Do Amish get cancer (Health among the Amish)?

I have always been intrigued by the simple lifestyles of isolated communities such as the Amish since my days at theology school. An article claiming that the Amish are immune to cancer and numerous other diseases caught my attention two years ago. So, I decided to visit Ohio State University and speak to professional scholars about the health statistics among the Amish. While at it, I also interacted with the Amish Community to learn more. Last week, my theology students wanted to know if the Amish got cancer. Having analyzed health records provided to the researchers at Ohio State University, I was ready to eliminate all the myths about Amish health. So, do Amish get cancer?

Yes, the Amish get cancer. According to research conducted in Amis communities, certain types of cancer are rampant among the Amish. For instance, reports indicate an increase in the rate of breast cancer among Amish women. That said, the Amish are exempt from many other forms of cancer thanks to their dedication to clean living.

In this article, we will discuss the findings of various studies conducted within the Amish community. Join me as we debunk the numerous myths about cancer and other illnesses among the Amish.

What is the average cancer rate among the Amish compared to the rest of the world?

Do Amish get cancer?
Average cancer rate among the Amish. Image source: Freepik

Studies show that the cancer rate among the Amish is considerably low compared to the rest of the world. Based on Ohio’s age-adjusted rate, the total degree of cancer for the Amish is 60%. Additionally, the overall rate of cancer among the Amish makes up 56% of the countrywide rate. Due to their conservative beliefs, Amish people do not partake in Alcohol or tobacco. This has contributed to their immunity to certain types of cancers. Data shows that cancers unrelated to tobacco account for 72% of the rate for Amish adults. Tobacco causes about 37% of cancer diagnoses in the Amish community.

Researchers at the University of Ohio embarked on a prototype study of the cancer rates in Ohio’s largest Amish community. These scholars used records between 1996 and 2003 to analyze the occurrence of 24 types of cancer among the Amish. The study found that Lung, melanoma, cervical, prostate, and breast cancer rates are very low for Amish people, especially when you compare the figures to the rates in the rest of Ohio state. This can be attributed to lifestyle choices such as limited sexual promiscuity, protective clothing in the fields, and increased physical activity.

What is the main cause of cancer among the Amish?

Lack of awareness and an aversion to preventative medical procedures have contributed to the cases of cancer among the Amish. The general rule of thumb for all types of cancer is early detection which gives the patient a better chance of beating the disease. Cancer patients must also be open-minded enough to try extreme treatment approaches such as mastectomies and chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, the Amish are very distrustful of modern medicine and technology. This is why Amish women are opposed to getting mammograms, pulp smears, and other procedures meant to identify any signs. Mobile healthcare providers in Oho have expressed concern with the high rate of breast cancer-related deaths among Amish women.

Amish ladies avoid innovative cancer-detection methods such as mammograms for several reasons. First, most of them cannot afford healthcare. The Amish do not participate in or believe in the business of health insurance. In its place, they collect money from a community fund and use it to cater to pricey medical procedures. As you can imagine, this is not a reliable method to pay for the long-term cancer-related expenses. Second, numerous misconceptions about technology discourage women from getting mammograms and pulp smears. A great majority of them believe that these procedures can expose you to cancer if you’re healthy. Social health workers have had a difficult time changing this backdated mentality. That’s because some Amish believe that breast cancer is a modern construct that they can avoid by isolating themselves.

What kinds of cancer do Amish people get?

Do Amish get cancer?
What kinds of cancer do Amish people get? Image source: Freepik

Breast Cancer

Amish people are susceptible to various types of cancer, albeit at a lesser rate than the rest of the world. Although this community is not great at record-keeping, the available data shows increased cases of certain types of cancer. Studies reveal that Amish women are prone to developing breast cancer. This is especially true for women under 60 years, who seem to succumb to breast cancer at a high rate. As mentioned earlier, these women rarely get tested due to the distance between the Amish community and civilized society. The Amish believe that God’s plan is bigger than theirs. This is why some of them decline treatment, citing that it is God’s will for their lives to end in that way.

Leukaemia (blood cancer)

In very rare cases, the Amish get blood cancer. One of the most famous cases of Leukemia involved a 10-year-old girl, Sarah, whose family opted out of chemotherapy in 2013. The doctors diagnosed Sarah with the most common type of Leukemia, known as Lymphoblastic lymphoma. Her cancer was quite advanced at stage three, and she needed immediate care. However, her parents opted out of chemo treatments due to the severe side effects. Sarah’s case caught society’s attention because the hospital sued her parents for stopping treatment.

Tobacco-related cancers

While most Amish stay away from tobacco, there is still a percentage of Amish men who indulge in smoking cigars and pipes. Research reveals numerous tobacco-related complications, including reduced lung function. Tobacco is the leading cause of lung and throat cancer among Amish men. According to statistics, 37% of Amish cancer patients have tobacco to thank for their condition. Amish women are also exposed to lots of second-hand smoke, which has dire consequences for their health. A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center reveals that secondhand smoke makes Amish women more susceptible to heart disease.

What is the main cause of death for the Amish?

Do Amish get cancer?
The main cause of death for the Amish. Image source: Pinterest

Cardiovascular illnesses

While the Amish lifestyle protects them from various types of cancer, it does not prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. Studies show that cardiovascular diseases cause the most deaths within the Amish community. An article published in the Progress in Pediatric Cardiology Journal contains some worrying facts about the rate of cardiovascular illnesses among Amish children. According to the article, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy has increased the mortality rate for children under the age of one. These issues are rooted in the genetic composition of the Amish. Due to the limited options in the genetic pool, Amish are prone to genetic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Over time these conditions become fatal and eventually cause death.


As mentioned earlier, the Amish suffer from several cancer types of cancer. Because they rarely get cancer screening early enough, the majority of Amish cancer patients succumb to the disease. It does not help that some of them think that treatment procedures are causing more harm than good.

Traumatic injuries

Although it is not talked about enough, trauma injuries account for a significant number of deaths in the Amish community. A study conducted at a level I Trauma facility revealed that children and older adults were more likely to get hurt through falls or farm equipment accidents. Data also shows that Amish people are prone to pedestrian road accidents, especially when they leave the confines of their communities.

Leave a Comment