Sept. 13, 2005 -- America's leading causes of death are changing, researchers report in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
During that time, these trends emerged:
- Stroke deaths: down 63%
- Heart disease deaths: down 52%
- Accident deaths: down 41%
- Cancer deaths: down 2.7%
- Diabetes deaths: up 45%
- COPD deaths: up 102%
The researchers included Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, of the American Cancer Society.
Keeping Death at Bay
The trends are based on the age-standardized death rate. That's the number of people who die per 100,000 people of different age groups (40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s or older).
The age-standardized death rate from all causes fell 32% from 1970 to 2002.
Of course, life doesn't last forever. As America's population grows and ages, the nation's total number of deaths from those conditions continues to rise.
But those deaths are striking at older ages than before, write Jemal and colleagues.
Reasons for the Trends
The drop in four of the six leading causes of death shows "progress" in disease prevention and life extension, write the researchers.
Stop-smoking efforts, speed limits, and seat belt laws probably helped more people live longer, write the researchers.
Jemal and colleagues list these leading causes of death in 2002:
- For adults younger than 40: accidents
- For people aged 40-74: cancer
- For people aged 75 and older: heart disease
A Long, Healthy Life
It may be possible to cut your risk of many of those deadly conditions by quitting smoking, getting in shape, eating healthfully, staying active, and getting recommended health screenings.
Check in with your doctor or health care provider to learn how to add years to your life and life to your years.