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Leading causes of death in the USA

Clinical bottom line

This is a rich source of risk information. It demonstrates that the biggest risks come from lifestyle decisions - particularly smoking and being overweight. No other risk even approaches then effect of these two factors on risk of dying.


Data source

American Council on Science and Health

What the sources tell us

This is a particularly useful source of a number of useful statistics on risk - including the leading causes of death in the USA, different cancer deaths, and deaths associated with different exposures.

Table 1 shows leading causes of death. Heart disease, cancer, and strokes are the leading causes, as expected. The annual risk for these 15 leading causes ranks from 1 in 430 to 1 in 20,000 for aortic aneurysm. The four leading causes of death are likely to be related to smoking and other lifestyle decisions.

For the risk of dying from different cancer (Table 2), lung and associated cancers are way more frequent than the next most frequent, which is cancer of colon and rectum. Both leadng cancers are highly influenced by lifetsyle decisions.

For exposures (Table 3), it is smoking and obesity that dominate, with risks way greater than other agents like carbon monoxide, pollution, or firearms.

Give us the odds

The three tables give the information as it is.

Table 1: Risk of dying from leading 15 causes of death in the US in 2002


Cause of Death
Deaths

Crude rate

per 100,000 population

Annual odds

(1 in )

Heart Disease
696,947
232.3
430
Cancer
557,271
185.8
538
Cerebrovascular Disease
162,672
54.2
1,844
Chronic Lung Disease
124,816
41.6
2,404
Unintentional Injury
106,743
35.6
2,810
Infectious Diseases
91,787
30.6
3,268
Diabetes Mellitus
73,249
24.4
4,096
Alzheimer's Disease
58,866
19.6
5,096
Intentional Injury
49,293
16.4
6,086
Nephritis
40,974
13.7
7,322
Septicemia
33,865
11.3
8,859
Liver Disease
27,257
9.1
11,006
Hypertension
20,261
6.8
14,807
Parkinson's Disease
16,959
5.7
17,690
Aortic Aneurysm
14,818
4.9
20,246

 

Table 2: Risk of dying from different types of cancer in the US in 2002


Type of cancer
Deaths

Crude rate

per 100,000 population

Annual odds

(1 in )

Lung, Bronchus and Trachea
157,713
525.7
1,902
Colon and Rectum
56,604
188.7
5,300
Breast
41,883
139.6
7,163
Prostate
30,446
101.5
9,854
Pancreas and Pancreatic Ducts
30,264
100.9
9,913
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
22,294
74.3
13,457
Leukaemia
16,317
54.4
18,386
Liver and Bile Duct
15,346
51.2
19,549
Ovary
14,682
48.9
20,433
Brain and Nervous System
12,988
43.3
23,098
Oesophagus
12,701
42.3
23,620
Urinary and Bladder
12,628
42.1
23,757
Stomach
12,198
40.7
24,594
Kidney and Renal Pelvis
12,165
40.6
24,661
Multiple Myeloma
10,996
36.7
27,283
Oral cavity and Pharynx
7,737
25.8
38,775
Melanoma of the Skin
7,514
25.0
39,925
Corpus Uteri
6,853
22.8
43,776
Cervix Uteri
3,952
13.2
75,911
Larynx
3,723
12.4
80,580
Thyroid Gland
1,367
4.6
219,459
Hodgkin's Disease
1,327
4.4
226,074
Testis
393
1.3
763,359
Kaposi's Sarcoma (all sites)
54
0.2
5,555,556

 

Table 3: Risk of dying from different exposures in the US in 2002


Exposure
Deaths

Crude rate

per 100,000 population

Annual odds

(1 in )

Active Smoking
389,290
129.8
771
Adult Obesity
111,909
37.3
2,681
Unintentional Injury
106,743
35.6
2,810
Medical Errors
98,000
32.7
3,061
Nosocomial Infections
90,000
30.0
3,333
Alcohol
85,000
28.3
3,529
Intentional Injury
49,293
16.4
6,086
Passive Smoking
38,000
12.7
7,895
Firearms
29,699
9.9
10,101
Sexual Behaviours
20,000
6.7
15,000
Illicit Drug Use
17,000
5.7
17,647
Ionizing and UV Radiation
11,145
3.7
26,918
Pollution (all forms)
11,145
3.7
26,918
Smokeless Tobacco
7,430
2.5
40,377
Medication Errors
7,391
2.5
40,590
Asbestos
3,750
1.3
80,000
Home Fire
2,670
0.9
112,360
Nature
1,554
0.5
193,050
Carbon Monoxide
200
0.1
1,500,000
Halogenated Hydrocarbons or Organic Solvents
51
0.02
5,882,353
Arsenic
50
0.02
6,000,000