List of preventable causes of death

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The World Health Organization has traditionally classified death according to the primary type of disease or injury. However, causes of death may also be classified in terms of preventable risk factors—such as smoking, unhealthy diet, and sexual behavior—which contribute to a number of different diseases. Such risk factors are usually not recorded directly on death certificates.[1]

Leading causes worldwide[edit]

It is estimated that of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds—100,000 per day—die of age-related causes.[2] In industrialized nations the proportion is much higher, reaching 90%.[2] Thus, albeit indirectly, biological aging (senescence) is by far the leading cause of death. Whether senescence as a biological process itself can be slowed down, halted, or even reversed is a subject of current scientific speculation and research.[3]

Leading causes of preventable death worldwide as of the year 2001, according to researchers working with the Disease Control Priorities Network (DCPN) and the World Health Organization (WHO).[4] (The WHO's 2008 statistics show very similar trends.)

Cause Number of deaths resulting (millions per year)
Hypertension 7.8
Smoking tobacco 5.0
Malnutrition 3.8
Sexually transmitted diseases 3.0
Poor diet 2.8
Overweight and obesity 2.5
Physical inactivity 2.0
Alcohol 1.9
Indoor air pollution from solid fuels 1.8
Unsafe water and poor sanitation 1.6

In 2001, on average 29,000 children died of preventable causes each day (that is, about 20 deaths per minute). The authors provide the context:

Leading causes in the United States[edit]

Annual number of deaths in the United States and causes
Cause Number Percent of total Notes
Preventable medical errors in hospitals 210,000 to 448,000[8] 23.1% Estimates vary, significant numbers of preventable deaths also result from errors outside of hospitals.
Smoking tobacco 435,000[5] 18.1%
Being overweight and obesity 111,909[9] 4.6% There was considerable debate about the differences in the numbers of obesity-related diseases. The numbers reported in the referenced article have been found to be the most accurate.[10]
Alcohol 85,000[5] 3.5%
Infectious diseases 75,000[5] 3.1%
Toxic agents including toxins, particulates and radon 55,000[5] 2.3%
Traffic collisions 43,000[5] 1.8%
Firearms deaths 31,940[11] 1.3% Suicide: 19,766; homicide: 11,101; Accidents: 852; Unknown: 822
Sexually transmitted infections 20,000[5] 0.8%
Drug abuse 17,000[5] 0.7%

Leading causes among children worldwide[edit]

Various injuries are the leading cause of death in children 9 – 17 years of age. The top five worldwide unintentional injuries in children are as follows:[12]

Leading causes of death by injury among children worldwide.[12]
Cause Number of deaths resulting
Traffic collision

260,000 per year

Drowning

175,000 per year

Burns

96,000 per year

Falls

47,000 per year

Toxins

45,000 per year

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Preventable causes of death in North Carolina". N C Med J 63 (4): 196. 2002. PMID 12970957. 
  2. ^ a b Aubrey D.N.J, de Grey (2007). "Life Span Extension Research and Public Debate: Societal Considerations" (PDF). Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1, Article 5). doi:10.2202/1941-6008.1011. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ "SENS Foundation". 
  4. ^ a b Lopez AD, Mathers CD, Ezzati M, Jamison DT, Murray CJ (May 2006). "Global and regional burden of disease and risk factors, 2001: systematic analysis of population health data". Lancet 367 (9524): 1747–57. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68770-9. PMID 16731270. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Mokdad AH, Marks JS, Stroup DF, Gerberding JL (March 2004). "Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000". JAMA 291 (10): 1238–45. doi:10.1001/jama.291.10.1238. PMID 15010446. 
  6. ^ Harvard School of Public Health, 2009 press releases
  7. ^ a b National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 50, No. 15, September 16, 2002 as compiled at [1]
  8. ^ "A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care". Journal of Patient Safety. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  9. ^ Flegal, K.M., B.I. Graubard, D.F. Williamson, and M.H. Gail. (2005). "Obesity". Journal of the American Medical Association 293 (15): 1861–1867. doi:10.1001/jama.293.15.1861. PMID 15840860. 
  10. ^ "Controversies in Obesity Mortality: A Tale of Two Studies". RTI International. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  11. ^ "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2011". CDC. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  12. ^ a b "BBC NEWS | Special Reports | UN raises child accidents alarm". BBC News. December 10, 2008. Retrieved May 8, 2010.