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CDC: Americans Living Longer as Death Rate Drops

Report Highlights Drops in Death Rates From Cancer, Heart Disease in 2010

By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 11, 2012 -- We are living longer these days.

Our average life expectancy increased by about one month from 2009 to 2010. In 2010, the average life expectancy rose to 78.7 years, up from 78.6 years in 2009. These are some of the findings from a new report by the CDC on death rates in the U.S. in 2010.

The death rate hit its lowest rate ever in 2010, at 746.2 deaths per 100,000 people. Overall 2,465,936 people died in the U.S. in 2010.

Heart disease and cancer still top the list of causes of death. Together, they accounted for 47% of all deaths in 2010, the new report shows.

For the first time since 1965, homicide fell from the top 15 causes of death. Homicide was replaced by pneumonitis, an inflammation of lung tissue, as the 15th leading cause of death.

Of the top 15 causes of death in the U.S., there were drops in seven of them, including:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Accidents
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Flu/pneumonia
  • Septicemia, or blood infection

There was also a decrease in infant mortality rates in 2010.

But there were increases in other causes of death, such as Alzheimer's disease, kidney disease, liver disease, Parkinson's disease, and pneumonitis, the new report showed.

The new data are based on 98% of death certificates from 50 states and the District of Columbia.

SOURCE: CDC: "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2010."

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