Causes of death around the world

March 6th, 2019

About 56 million people in the world died in 2017.

This is 10 million more than in 1990, as the global population has increased and people live longer on average.

More than 70% die from non-communicable, chronic diseases. These are not passed from person to person and typically progress slowly.

The biggest single killer is cardiovascular disease, which affects the heart and arteries and is responsible for every third death.

This is twice the rate of cancers – the second leading cause – which account for about one in six of all deaths.

Other non-contagious diseases such as diabetes, certain respiratory diseases and dementia are also near the top of the list.

Preventable deaths
What may be more shocking is the number of people who still die from preventable causes.

About 1.6 million died from diseases related to diarrhoea in 2017, putting it in the top 10 causes of death. In some countries, it’s one of the largest killers.
Neonatal disorders – the death of a baby within the first 28 days – claimed 1.8 million newborns in 2017.

The frequency of these deaths varies greatly from country to country. In Japan, fewer than 1 in 1,000 babies die in the first 28 days of life, compared with just under one in 20 in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Other preventable deaths are high up the list.

Road accidents incur a high death toll in the richest and poorest countries alike, claiming 1.2 million lives in 2017.

While many high-income countries have seen significant falls in road deaths in recent decades, globally the number dying on the roads has almost stayed the same.
Meanwhile, almost twice as many people around the world died from suicide as from homicide – the killing of one person by another.

In the UK, suicide deaths were 16 times higher; it is the leading cause of death for men aged 20-40.

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