What we died of, then and now

I am thankful I live in such an age of progress in medicine and public health.  The chart above shows the top 10 causes of death in the United States, in 1900 and 2010, as reported by the New England Journal of Medicine.  Nephropathy is kidney disease.  Cerebrovascular disease is stroke.

Infectious diseases such as diphtheria and influenza are no longer a major cause of death.  Tuberculosis has been conquered.  Alzheimer’s disease has replaced “senility.”   But diabetes is now a major cause of death.  Heart disease and cancer took more lives in 2010 than in 1900.  I don’t know how much that is due to bad diet, smoking and lack of exercise, and how much is due to the fact that more of us live long enough to die of these characteristic diseases of old age.

In all, though, I’m glad I live now rather than a century ago.

Click on The Burden of Disease and the Changing Task of Medicine for the full article.  Hat tip to Wonkblog.

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One Response to “What we died of, then and now”

  1. Atticus Finch Says:

    I agree.

    I suspect that dying of “cancer” in 1900 was just called getting sick and dying of old age. Today we are so well equipped to diagnose things that we have a name for it.


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