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Murder’s Off the List of Top 15 U.S. Causes of Death
January 12, 2012
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Murder is no longer one of the top 15 leading causes of death in the U.S., according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has issued the report each year since 1951. This is the first time in 45 years that homicide hasn't made the top 15 - it slipped to 16th place in 2010.

The CDC suggests a couple of reasons for the change: one is that there were fewer murders last year - 16,056, down from 16,799 in 2009. Another is the aging of the population, and the resultant increase in deaths from certain diseases. In fact, the killer that took over the number 15 spot from murder is pneumonitis, seen mainly in people 75 and older. Pneumonitis is caused when food or vomit goes down the windpipe and causes deadly damage to the lungs.

Here's the full, depressing list. As it was last year, heart disease is still the number one cause of death. But there's some positive news as well: average life expectancy is up to 78.7 years from 78.6 in 2009.

1. Heart disease (595,444 deaths)

2. Malignant neoplasms (573,855)

3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (137,789)

4. Cerebrovascular diseases (129,180)

5. Accidents (118,043)

6. Alzheimer's disease (83,308)

7. Diabetes (68,905)

8. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (50,472)

9. Influenza and pneumonia (50,003)

10. Suicide (37,793)

11. Septicemia (34,843)

12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (31,802)

13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (26,577)

14. Parkinson's disease (21,963)

15. Pneumonitis due to solids or liquids (17,001)

Related stories on

Siddhartha Mukherjee on the Sanitization of Death

A Greener Way to Die? Body Liquefaction and Freeze-Drying


USA Today on the CDC Report


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