15 top killers of Americans
January 11th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

15 top killers of Americans

The leading killers of Americans continue to be non-infectious diseases like heart disease, strokes and lung diseases.

But one of the perpetual causes of death fell off the top 15 list this year: Homicides.

“Most of the changes were positive,” said Sherry Murphy, a statistician at the National Center of Health Statistics and one of the authors of the annual mortality report.  “Homicides fell from among the 15 leading causes for the first time since 1965.”

The rest of the common killers remained fairly consistent compared with 2009, according to the report released Wednesday. The death rate in the United States dropped slightly from 749.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2009 to 746.2 deaths per 100,000.

The life expectancy in the United States inched up a tiny bit from 78.6 years in 2009 to 78.7 years in 2010.

The leading causes of death in 2010 remained nearly the same as in 2009  - kidney diseases became the 8th leading cause of death –- it had been 9th in the previous year.  It swapped spots with flu and pneumonia.

The 15th leading killer is pneumonitis due to solids and liquids, an illness more likely to strike the elderly.  This is inflammation of the lungs due to inhaling substance inside the lung such as dust, mold or inhalants.

Here are the top 15 killers:

1. Diseases of heart
2. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma)
4. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
5. Accidents (any injuries that are unintentional)
6. Alzheimer’s disease
7. Diabetes mellitus
8. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)
9. Influenza and pneumonia
10. Intentional self-harm (suicide)
11. Septicemia
12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease
14. Parkinson’s disease
15. Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids

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soundoff (3,073 Responses)
  1. larry5

    Looks like a lot of us die because of what we eat and drink. Real food is more expensive in the short run and cheap in the long run. Problem is that good food is not as profitable for business and high calorie junk. There's a lot of marketing behind the cheap calorie food business. The switch in diet from the cave man to the modern agrarian was an economic change not a nutritional improvement.

    January 12, 2012 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daniel

      What happen to guns. Heck that is not even in the top 50. Medical malpractice and wrongful distribution of pharmaceuticals, alcohol related deaths are over 25,000 every month. Heart, 270 per day from prescription drugs. Suicide, asthma, heart disease, cancer, air pollution. Over 200,000 air pollution related. Truth be told, guns will become a huge cause of death when a corrupt government is the only one with them. Look at history. Gun control is about government enslaving its people. Wake up America.

      September 7, 2012 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      Yep, Daniel, I specifically Googled leading causes of death in America to find out where gun deaths fall into a ranking. I suppose in this list, it is combined with all accidents, and I would be curious to find out how many accidents are gun related. Not likely as many as something like falling off a roof or being involved in a vehicle crash. My husband and I collect guns and go target shooting, and have hand guns ready for self protection in the home (we do not "carry"). It's amazing to me how many of our friends, family and co-workers are against this. It's some of the same people who would think nothing of shoving some fast food meal down their throats while driving on the interstate. I was three car lengths away once from being clipped by a fat guy whipping out of a burger joint, turning left across a highway in a rainstorm, and demolishing the other driver's car from the side. People who own cars are a lot more careless with their 2 ton moving objects than gun owners are with their guns. Horrible diet and laziness are going to kill a lot more people than are firearms.

      September 8, 2012 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
  2. Divine

    Chickenhawks kill more Americans than any disease.

    January 12, 2012 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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  3. borisjimbo

    Is there a classification overall for gunshot wounds, whether self-inflicted or accidental? I'd sure love to show that to the gun lovers.

    January 12, 2012 at 04:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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  4. Jimbob

    So, where is "Iatrogenic"? Do they not mention that for a reason, hmm? hahha

    January 12, 2012 at 06:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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  5. abby

    unhealthy food and habits - self-indulgence and neglect - bad genes....

    January 12, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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    #1 should be the FDA

    January 13, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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  8. Roberto

    They missed abortion. That is a tremendous killer of those who would be Americans had they been afforded the opportunity to live in the first place. And maybe one of them could have found a cure for some of these other diseases ... but we'll never know.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • erik

      you're right

      December 11, 2012 at 11:04 | Report abuse |
    • Morga Landcaster

      No its best they were never given the chance to live, its more peaceful that way, I think about it hough when i eat eggs, its like each one is an abortion, still the yolks really help me out.

      October 23, 2015 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • Monster

      Because abortion is NOT a disease... stupid.

      June 21, 2016 at 12:05 | Report abuse |
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    Excellent article – protection of our health is so vital!

    January 19, 2012 at 14:50 | 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.