This Tennessee City Has Been Named The Highest Cancer Rates In The State

Memphis, Tennessee, has garnered attention as the city with the highest cancer rates in the state, as reported by the Tennessee Cancer Registry. The city faces a daunting overall cancer incidence rate of 598.9 cases per 100,000 people, a significant disparity from the state average of 549.6 cases per 100,000 people. Several factors contribute to this alarming statistic, shedding light on the challenges confronting this vibrant community.

This Tennessee City Has Been Named The Highest Cancer Rates In The State

The Following Factors  Contribute To Memphis, Tennessee Having The Highest Cancer Rates In The State:

Industrial Heritage:

Memphis hosts numerous refineries, chemical plants, and industrial facilities, releasing pollutants that elevate cancer risk. Notably, benzene, a common industrial chemical, has been linked to leukemia, posing a considerable health hazard to residents.


Memphis is a diverse city, home to a substantial minority population that bears a disproportionate burden of cancer. African Americans and Hispanics are at greater risk for specific cancer types, such as lung and colorectal cancers, influenced by various factors including socioeconomic disparities, healthcare access, and lifestyle choices.

Socioeconomic Status:

Memphis contends with a higher poverty rate compared to the state average. Individuals in poverty often face increased exposure to environmental toxins and limited access to quality healthcare, compounding their risk of developing cancer.

Access To Healthcare:

The city has fewer healthcare providers per capita than the state average, creating obstacles for residents seeking preventive care, including cancer screenings. This can lead to delayed diagnoses and poorer outcomes.

Lifestyle Choices:

Smoking, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption are established risk factors for cancer. In Memphis, these risk factors are more prevalent compared to the state average.

Air pollution:

Memphis has some of the worst air quality in the state, due to emissions from industrial facilities and vehicles. Exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of developing a number of types of cancer, including lung cancer.

Soil contamination:

Memphis’s soil is contaminated with a number of harmful chemicals, including lead, arsenic, and PCBs. Exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Proximity to hazardous waste sites:

Memphis is home to a number of hazardous waste sites, which can release harmful chemicals into the air, water, and soil. Exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of developing cancer.

It’s crucial to recognize that cancer is a complex disease with no single cause, and Memphis’s high cancer rates are likely the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The Tennessee Department of Health is actively working to address the issue, implementing programs aimed at reducing exposure to environmental toxins, enhancing access to cancer screening and treatment, and promoting healthier lifestyles in the community.

For Memphis residents and individuals concerned about their cancer risk, several proactive measures can be taken to reduce potential health hazards:

Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke:

Smoking is a significant risk factor for multiple types of cancer. Eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke is equally important.

Embrace a healthy lifestyle:

Making informed dietary choices, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular physical activity can significantly lower cancer risk.

Prioritize regular cancer screenings:

Consistent screenings, such as mammograms, Pap tests, and colonoscopies, facilitate early detection and better outcomes.

Minimize exposure to environmental toxins:

Awareness of potential sources of environmental toxins and taking steps to limit exposure is crucial in cancer prevention.


In conclusion, Memphis, Tennessee, faces the challenge of having the highest cancer rates in the state. The combination of environmental factors, healthcare disparities, and lifestyle choices contributes to this issue. By actively addressing these factors and implementing preventive measures at both the community and individual levels, Memphis aims to create a healthier, cancer-aware environment. If you reside in Memphis or have concerns about your cancer risk, consulting with a healthcare professional is a prudent step toward prevention and early detection.

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