British Columbians can thank their healthy living for leading the nation's fight against cancer.

People living in B.C. have some of the lowest death and incidence rates for cancers across the country, statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society released Wednesday revealed.

"British Columbians lead the way because of our lifestyle habits -- we have lower tobacco and obesity rates and higher physical activity rates -- and this is paying off in lower cancer rates," said Kathryn Seely of the Canadian Cancer Society's B.C. and Yukon chapter.

This year alone in B.C., 21,600 new cases and 9,500 new cancer deaths are expected. This represents 1,000 more new cases and 100 more deaths than 2009. The agency attributes the increases to a growing and aging population.

Cases and deaths nationally rise to 173,000 and 76,000 respectively. The Canadian Cancer Society says the majority of cancer types have declined or stabilized in the past 10 years.

Prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancers continue to be the most prevalent cancers in B.C. and Canada. These four types account for 53.7 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in the province.

"The good news is that although the number of new cases for both prostate and breast cancer remain high, the estimated number of deaths for both is considerably lower," said Seely.

"More people are surviving these two cancers and it is a direct result of progress we have made."

Lung cancer incidence and mortality rates are the lowest in B.C., however, it accounts for 26.3 of all cancer deaths in B.C. It is the leading cause of cancer death for both sexes across Canada even though it is the second most common cancer for men and women.

The agency said the fact B.C. has the lowest smoking rates in the country account for the numbers.

"However, we continue to see higher incidence and death rates for lung cancer among women," said Seely.

"The difference between male and female lung cancer rates reflects the drop in smoking that began for males in the mid-1960's and much later- in the mid-1980's for females."

Mortality rates for colorectal cancer are approximately twice as high in Newfoundland and Labrador as they are in B.C.

An estimated 48.3 per cent of Canadian females and 51.7 per cent of males will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. The risk of cancer increases with age, with 61 per cent of cancer deaths occurring among people aged 70 or older.