Concern about Cancer and Heart Disease Top LI Residents' List

June 30, 2022

In a new analysis, Suffolk County and Nassau County respondents both note their greatest health concern for their community is cancer.  This was the same result seen in the previous year’s analysis.  However, when asked about their greatest concern for themselves, cancer remains at the top for Suffolk County respondents, but for Nassau County residents heart disease/stroke  is the most pressing concern. These results are the product of an analysis of community health data collected by the Long Island Health Collaborative (LIHC).  The data were collected January through December 2021 using the Community Health Assessment Survey (English Version) and Spanish version , an ongoing survey that collects primary data about Long Islanders’ health concerns for themselves and their communities.  The data is used by hospitals, county health departments, community-based organizations and other social and health services providers to offer programs that best meet the needs of local communities.

Drugs and alcohol abuse followed by mental health depression/suicide were the second and third issues of most concern among the community in Suffolk County, while in Nassau County these were the third and fourth issues of most concern with heart disease/stroke in the number two spot.

When asked what are the biggest ongoing health concerns for yourself, mental health depression/suicide ranked second in Suffolk County, but did not appear in the top five in Nassau County.

However, when asked what is most needed to improve the health of your community, residents in both counties say mental health services.

When asked what health screenings or education/information services are needed in your community, Suffolk County respondents said mental health/depression, followed by cancer and then drug and alcohol. Nassau County respondents said blood pressure followed by mental health/depression and then cholesterol.  Identification of these services mostly align with responses related to respondents’ greatest concerns for their own health needs, especially the identification of blood pressure and cholesterol screening and education noted by Nassau County respondents. .

Heart disease remains the number one killer of men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lifestyle habits and environmental factors contribute to the incidence of heart disease and, in fact, all chronic diseases, including many cancers. Unhealthy diets and lack of exercise are modifiable risk factors. The Long Island Health Collaborative and its partners support access to affordable and nutritious foods and encourage residents of all ages to walk. Numerous studies support the physical and mental health benefits of walking. The LIHC’s public awareness campaign – Live Better – promotes the importance of nutrition and physical activity to better manage and/or prevent chronic diseases.

Residents in both counties continue to see obesity/weight loss as a major personal health concern. This issue has consistently appeared in the top five rankings for the past four years, either as an individual concern and/or a concern for community health.  Obesity is a prevailing risk factor for almost all chronic diseases. 

Individuals are encouraged to complete the Community Health Assessment Survey online. To date, about 13,500 individual surveys have been collected and analyzed since 2013. These analyses offer a window into this region’s healthcare landscape.