AIDS May Become No. 3 Cause of Death
But Tobacco Bigger Killer as Experts Predict World's Top Causes of Death, Disease in 2030
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 28, 2006 -- By 2030, AIDS may be the world's third leading cause of
That's according to World Health Organization (WHO) experts, including Colin
WHO predicts the world's top 10 causes of death in 2030 will be:
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lower respiratory infections
Lung cancer and
cancer of the trachea (windpipe)
- Road traffic accidents
- Perinatal conditions (deaths around the time of birth)
The researchers also say the worlds' most common diseases in 2030 will be
HIV/AIDS, depression, and heart
Their report appears in Public Library of Science Medicine.
In the future, tobacco will likely be a bigger killer than HIV/AIDS, the
"Tobacco is projected to kill 50% more people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS, and
to be responsible for 10% of deaths globally," Mather's team writes.
The researchers also predict that from 2002 to 2030:
- Global life expectancy will rise.
- Women in Japan will have the greatest life expectancy: more than 88
- Kids' odds of dying by age 5 will drop by nearly half.
Certain infectious diseases (such as tuberculosis), malnutrition, and
maternal and perinatal conditions will likely fall, according to the
Mather's team also tweaked the forecasts based on countries' incomes.
They expect malaria and diarrhea to be among the
leading causes of death in 2030 in low-income countries, but not high-income
The researchers predict colon cancer, prostate cancer,
and Alzheimer's disease
will make the list of top causes of death in high-income countries, but not in
low-income ones in 2030.
Of course, no one can know the future, and the researchers admit their
predictions may miss the mark.
For instance, they say HIV/AIDS might become the No. 4 cause of death -- not
No. 3 -- if anti-HIV drugs become more widely available and if HIV prevention
Also, economic development may affect death trends, note Mathers and
For example, if cars become more common in low-income countries, traffic
deaths may rise there.
A breakthrough disease treatment could also change the cause-of-death
In an editorial, the journal's editors say the WHO report should "help
set the agenda for policy and establish the priorities for research."
"But will it?" the editors ask. "Sadly, it is all too clear that
the greatest needs are generally not those that receive the greatest
The editorialists also note that "things could be much worse... [or] much
better" than the projections.