tombstones in a field

What Do We Die From?

Graphic of leading causes of death

Death is an inevitable part of life. But have you ever wondered what exactly causes our demise? In this blog post, we will explore the leading causes of death and shed light on the statistics behind them. Let's dive in!

What are the leading causes of death worldwide?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)¹, the top three leading causes of death globally are:

  1. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) - accounting for 31% of all deaths
  2. Cancer - responsible for 17% of global deaths
  3. Respiratory diseases - causing 10% of all deaths.

Cardiovascular diseases: The silent killers

Cardiovascular diseases² encompass a range of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. These include coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokeRisk factors⁴ such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity contribute to the development of CVDs.

Did you know that CVDs claim the lives of approximately 17.9 million people each year? That's a staggering 31% of all deaths worldwide!

The battle against cancer

Cancer⁵ is a complex group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. It can affect any part of the body and has various risk factors, including genetic predisposition⁶, exposure to carcinogens⁷, and lifestyle choices.

With approximately 9.6 million deaths annually, cancer accounts for 17% of global mortality. The most common types of cancer⁸ include lung, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer.

The impact of respiratory diseases

Respiratory diseases⁹, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia, pose a significant threat to global health. These conditions affect the lungs and can impair breathing, leading to severe complications.

Responsible for 10% of all deaths worldwide, respiratory diseases claim the lives of approximately 5.6 million people each year. Factors such as smoking, air pollution, and respiratory infections contribute to the development of these diseases.

Other notable causes of death

While cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases top the list of global mortality, there are other significant causes of death worth mentioning. These include:


Understanding the leading causes of death is crucial for public health initiatives and individual well-being. By addressing risk factors and promoting healthy lifestyles, we can strive to reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, and other significant causes of mortality. Remember, knowledge is power, and together, we can work towards a healthier future.



1. World Health Organization

2. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) | WHO

3. Heart, stroke and vascular disease: Australian facts | AIHW

4. Heart disease | Mayo Clinic

5. What is cancer? | Cancer Council

6. What does it mean to have a genetic predisposition to a disease? | MedlinePlus

7. Carcinogens | Safe Work Australia

8. Worldwide cancer data | WCRF

9. Chronic respiratory diseases | WHO

10. Infections of the Respiratory System | NIH

11. Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia | New York State DoH

12. Diabetes - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

13. Kidney Disease | NIDDK

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