What do we die from? Human nature is such that we have misconceptions about what real threats are. We exaggerate the risk for some threats and minimize the risk for the real killers. This is partly fueled by media focus on sensational events. Consequently, we tend to worry more about shark attacks and terrorist events but not too much about slips, trips and falls, which don’t make headlines but take a far greater toll in terms of deaths and injuries.

Here’s what really kills us:

1. Heart disease: 611,105
2. Cancer: 584,881
3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
4. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
5. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
6. Alzheimer’s disease: 84,767
7. Diabetes: 75,578
8. Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
10. Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149

In the U.S., illnesses dominate the top 10 list of leading causes of death, but weighing in at #4, we find accidents. June Is National Safety Month. The focus is on reducing leading causes of injury and death at the workplace, on the road and in our homes and communities. The National Safety Council issued a great infographic to highlight the risk perception vs reality, which we’ve included below.

The top three accidents are:

  • Unintentional poisonings (think prescription drugs)
  • Motor vehicle and traffic related accidents
  • Unintentional falls

As with many of the illnesses that rank high on the mortality list, we have within our power the ability to improve our odds of a long life by mitigating the risk at work and at home, and in our road travels to and fro.

For a more detailed lists, see

10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2013

10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Unintentional Injury Deaths, United States – 2013

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