Cancer and heart disease were responsible for just over half of Canada's 238,617 deaths in 2008, a new report says.

And Statistics Canada reports cancer was the leading cause of death in every province and territory for the first time.

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Cancer blogger Derek Miller's final blog went viral this year. Cancer was the leading cause of death in every province and territory for the first time in 2008, Statistics Canada says. (Courtesy of Derek Miller)

The agency says heart disease was the second-leading cause of death in every province and territory in 2008 — except Nunavut, where suicide ranked second.

Cancer accounted for 30 per cent of all deaths in 2008, followed by heart disease (21 per cent) and stroke (6).

Ranked in order, the other seven leading causes of death were:

  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents (unintentional injuries).
  • Diabetes.
  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Influenza and pneumonia.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Suicide.

StatsCan says these 10 leading causes accounted for 77 per cent of all deaths in 2008, compared with 80 per cent in 2000.

By age group, there were differences in the leading causes of death.

Congenital abnormalities were the leading cause of death for infants under one year of age, accidents (unintentional injuries) for people aged one to 34, cancer for those aged 35 to 84 and heart disease for those aged 85 and over.

For young adults aged 15 to 24, the top three causes of death in order were accidents, suicide and homicide.