CDC Announces Leading Causes of Death

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Let’s face it: death is a difficult subject. Most of us like to put into the “let’s not think about” folder in our brains. But knowing the most likely causes of death may just help you avoid them and, therefore, live a longer, healthier life. Some enlightening new research has been done on the subject and the results are quite surprising.

A list of the top 15 causes of death was recently complied from records of deaths, which were received from state vital statistics offices and processed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The top 2 leading causes didn’t come as a shock, diseases of the heart (mainly heart attack) and cancer, but the influence tobacco has on this list is a bit of a plot twist.

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use is a major cause of many of the world’s top killer diseases – including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease and lung cancer. In total, tobacco use is responsible for the death of almost one in 10 adults worldwide. Smoking is often the hidden cause of the disease recorded as responsible for death.

When looking at lists broken down by age, the causes differ: in general, youth is more vulnerable to violent death (accidents and homicide); middle age is more vulnerable to disease conditions affecting high risk individuals (cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.); and old age is more vulnerable to diseases related to general debility (infection, dementia, chronic disease and accidental falls).

The ethnicity factor is also interesting when determining which group of people are affected more by certain factors. The National Vital Statistics Report released the following pie charts detailing the death factors among select ethnicities:

Top 15 Causes of Death

The final results for 2007 were just published, the causes here are the preliminary numbers for deaths in the United States for 2009. The preliminary number of deaths for the year was 2,436,68–here is how the numbers are represented:

15. Assault (homicide): 16,591

14. Parkinson’s disease: 20,552

13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (high blood pressure, kidney failure caused by high blood pressure): 25,651

12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: 30, 444

11. Septicemia (systemic infection): 35,587

10. Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,547

9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease): 48,714

8. Influenza and pneumonia: 53,582

7. Diabetes mellitus (diabetes): 68,504

6. Alzheimer’s disease: 78,889

5. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 117,176

4. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke): 128,603

3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (emphysema, chronic bronchitis): 137,082

2. Malignant neoplasms (cancer): 568,668

1. Diseases of heart (mainly heart attack): 598,607
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