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4 common killers in the world: Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes
September 13th, 2011
08:01 PM ET

4 common killers in the world: Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes

The major killers in the world are not infectious diseases,  insidious viruses or bacteria.

The leading causes of deaths worldwide are noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancers, lung disease and diabetes.  These diseases killed more than 36 million people in 2008, according a report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

Heart disease deaths were responsible for 48% of these deaths, cancers 21%, chronic lung diseases 12%, and diabetes 3%.  In many cases these are preventable deaths that are related to unhealthy habits such as smoking, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets.

Infectious diseases such as diarrheal diseases (2.46 million deaths) and HIV/AIDS (1.78 million deaths) trailed behind heart and lung diseases, according to the WHO's list of the top causes of death.

People who live in low-income countries are three times more likely to die from one of the noncommunicable diseases before the age of 60, than those who live in high-income countries, according to the report. And the data showed that unhealthy habits are increasing in most of the low and middle-income countries.

Each of the 193 WHO member states received the request for health data in 2009 and the WHO compiled this report. For only the second time in its history, the United Nation's General Assembly, which is meeting next week, has put a health issue on its agenda.  Nations will meet on September 19 through 20 to develop an international plan for preventing and controlling noncommunicable diseases.

WHO has tried to address the lifestyle problems associated with these diseases.  In 2008, the WHO passed a tobacco policy to discourage smoking, recommending that countries monitor tobacco use, offer smoking cessation help, put warnings about the dangers of tobacco, ban ads, and raise taxes on the products.

In high-income countries like the United States,  noncommunicable diseases account for 87% of all deaths.

Heart disease (35%) is the leading noncommunicable disease in the U.S., followed by cancers (23%), lung disease (7%) and diabetes (3%).  According to the WHO, 70% of Americans are considered overweight or obese.

Since the 1980s, the average blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar level and cholesterol have all increased.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that $40 million will go to health departments around the country for chronic disease prevention programs.  The federal agency announced a partnership Tuesday with the private sector called Million Hearts with the goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.


soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. sam

    How about the 2.5 Million who die from ALCOHOL ? and the other 5 million who die from Alcohol users on the higways,in the homes,etc ? ANd how about the COST of ALCOHOL use in the USA of $ 280 Billion a year ? Oh Im sorry Thats right BOOZE IS GOOD FOR YOU,And CONDONED worldwide,Just dont SMOKE it kills others.......NOT

    September 14, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Any average person

      oh yea your right, oh wait just kidding second hand smoking kills 53,800 people every year.

      September 15, 2011 at 01:29 | Report abuse |
  2. erich knox

    death is not preventable

    September 14, 2011 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      Amen

      September 14, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
    • george

      yes, death is inevitable but living without having these conditions would make death more satisfying and not filled with regrets

      September 14, 2011 at 22:17 | Report abuse |
  3. thizz

    Of course CNN can't go more than a day without having some kind of anti-smoking article. Everyone understands smoking is bad and can kill you, but us smokers simply don't care. According to the CDC 1/3 of smokers die from a smoking related death and every person will die eventually from one thing or another.

    September 14, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brent

      Nobody is arguing everybody is going to die at some point in their lives. The question is do you wanna die at 50 hacking your lungs out from lung cancer?

      September 14, 2011 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
    • Larry L

      After a career in public health I can comment on this with conviction. The biggest problem with smoking is it doesn't kill quickly enough. If it killed you before you passed your genes along or before you cost the medical system billions smoking would be a personal problem. Unfortuantely, as your spending months in horrible pain, slowly choking and gasping for just one more breath, the medical system has to pay to keep you alive. You also spread your death with second-hand smoke. I've yet to see a person dying from smoking-related illnesses (and I've seen many) who had any clever quips to deliver about smoking. Usually they just give you a sad look and devote their thoughts to anger at themselves, and death. They never look cool and sophisticated...

      September 14, 2011 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
  4. kakilicli

    Funny, I would have thought war/conflict, malnutrition, and weather/ecological related (flood, landslide, earthquake) would have made it into the top four.

    Silly me.

    September 14, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jamie

      You mean environmental, not ecological.

      September 14, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse |
  5. WellnessDrive

    Sad – most conditions could be avoided by Healthy diet but many do not. Not saying that all conditions can be resolved but eating properly and exercise can improve and extend our lives. I've been on a health kick for a long time and feel great.

    I also believe that we need extra natural supplements due to soil nutritional deficiencies, pollution, and stress. Go on a WellnessDrive.com Combat it with antioxidants, omega III, multivitamins, aloe juice, acai energy ... Live life and enjoy. :) Find what works for you.

    September 14, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Schmedley

    It's kind of interesting that we're so worried about killer bugs, wars, guns, global warming, etc. etc. and our biggest killers are the result of what we do to ourselves, i.e. smoke, eat too much...

    September 14, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Please

    Prescription drugs are #1 in the U.S.

    September 14, 2011 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ken

    A recent report said that the average life expectancy for a retired NFL player was under 60 years! Now would someone tell me why VIOXX has been banned and football is allowed – for little kids, for big kids, for college kids, for adults – when the data says it is 1000 times more dangerous than VIOXX?

    September 14, 2011 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Christianna

    Those who concern about the human overpopulation should not expect medical technology to provide a long human life. Be fair to the planet or stop talking non-sense. Overpopulation is NEVER the problem; humanity's toxic lifestyles are. Fear God and stop killing unborn humans.

    September 15, 2011 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chartreuxe

      Your post is incorrect and your ideas are wrong, Christianna. Overpopulation is the problem. Wars over water and countries that cannot feed their populations are already taking place. Darfur exists because of drought. Never heard of it? Look it up and learn what will be happening in this country in 20 years or so as drought arrives.

      Abortion has nothing to do with these issues since neither birth control nor abortion are available in the countries suffering from these problems. Humans outnumber rats on the planet now. It's true, we are more numerous than vermin. Think that's sensible or in any way sustainable?

      The coral reefs are dying now. The ocean is losing its ability to sustain the proper acidity. We may be doomed. As a Christian, I see that we've put ourselves in this situation with our greed and selfishness and the Lord expects us to get ourselves out of it.

      Unborn humans? What about the humans who are already here who are starving to death and dying from dirty water every single day? What do they deserve from us?

      September 15, 2011 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
    • Christianna

      @Char-, humans must never lay their hands on another for population control. Let God's nature takes its course but none of us should play His role. Read Genesis 4 and 6. The planet is dying because humans are doing abortion in massive scales. A murderous race deserves no life in God's viewpoint.

      September 17, 2011 at 05:08 | Report abuse |
  10. JR

    THEY FORGOT TO INCLUDE THE WORST DISEASE WITH NO CURE. GREED!! HOW MANY DEATHS DOES THIS KILL IN A YEAR AROUND THE WORLD. CANCER WILL BE CURED BEFORE THEY FIND A CURE FOR GREED.

    September 15, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. モンブラン ローラーボール

    4 common killers in the world: Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes – The Chart – CNN.com Blogs モンブラン ローラーボール http://www.pslcbi.com/montblanc.html

    November 30, 2013 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.