Death index: Top 50 ways Americans die

  • Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the number of deaths in the United States and the causes of those deaths. In 2017, the latest year available, there were more than 2.8 million.

    The CDC also breaks down data for selected causes of death. The CDC’s data lists most specific causes, though it doesn’t break out details on rarer diseases and accidents. 

    We ranked the top 50 causes of death in America, from the CDC’s selected causes.

    Credit: Raquel Zaldivar/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

  • Credit: Kimura Sisters via CBSNews

  • In 2017, 5,547 people in the U.S. died from hardening of the arteries.

    This billboard outside San Francisco urges people to lower their high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease.

    Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed viral hepatitis for 5,611 deaths in 2017.

    Karen McKenzie of the Orange County, Florida Health Department prepares to administer the hepatitis A vaccine at an inoculation event on August 1, 2019.

    Credit: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • Health care providers listed HIV as the cause of death for 5,698 Americans in 2017.

    Activists marched in support of people with HIV during the Queer Liberation March on June 30, 2019 in New York City.

    Credit: Getty Images

  • In 2017, 6,118 people died from inflammation of the colon and small intestine caused by infection with the Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, bacteria, which is often resistant to antibiotics.

    This micrograph film scan shows an up-close view of C. diff bacteria in a stool sample.

    Credit: CDC via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 6,554 people died by deliberately ingesting or inhaling toxic substances. The CDC includes drug overdoses in this category.

    According to the CDC, oxycodone is one of the drugs most associated with suicide by drug overdose.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, representatives are available 24 hours a day at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

    Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • Statistics showed 6,946 people died from accidental strangulation or suffocation.

    Many unexpected infant deaths are attributed to accidental suffocation during sleep.

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  • Doctors blamed 7,740 deaths on complications related to obesity.

    Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • Nutritional deficiencies — disorders that prevent people from absorbing nutrients — killed 7,846 people in 2017. 

    Credit: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 8,056 people died from skin cancer

    Lizzie Tenney, who suffers from a severe sun allergy, shows her latest scar from skin cancer surgery.

    Credit: Sohrab Mirmont/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

  • Congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities killed 9,902 people in 2017.

    Abby Eveson died in 2018, at age 5, of a congenital heart defect.

    Credit: Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 9,928 people in the U.S. died from aneurysms and ruptures of the main blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.

    This image from 1971 shows a ruptured aortic aneurysm due to syphilis.

    Credit: Susan Lindsley/CDC via Getty Images

  • Cancers of the lips, mouth and throat accounted for 10,126 deaths.

    Credit: Oral Cancer Foundation via Facebook

  • Perinatal conditions such as birth injuries, prematurity, neonatal jaundice and neonatal drug withdrawal caused 11,108 deaths in 2017.

    This 2-week-old West Virginia boy was treated for opioid withdrawal in June 2019.

    Credit: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 11,158 people died from stomach cancer.

    Credit: No Stomach for Cancer via Facebook

  • In 2017, 12,809 people died from blood cancers, such as multiple myeloma, a disease that causes cancer cells to build up in the bone marrow.

    This multiple myeloma sufferer takes an array of medications to treat his condition.

    Credit: Gerry Melendez/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

  • Statistics showed 13,075 people died from suicide by strangulation or suffocation in 2017. 

    Star chef Anthony Bourdain was found dead from hanging in his hotel room in France in June 2018.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, representatives are available 24 hours a day at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

    Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • In 2017, 13,960 people died from cancers of the kidney and renal pelvis.

    Here, a health care worker reviews scans as doctors treat a patient with kidney cancer.

    Credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed 14,193 deaths on ovarian cancer in 2017.

    “Saturday Night Live” comic Gilda Radner died from ovarian cancer in 1989. 

    Credit: Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

  • According to CDC statistics, 14,542 people in the U.S. died from homicides by gunshot.

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Anthony Borges showed his scars during an interview in Coral Springs, Florida, in August 2019.

    Credit: Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

  • Cancer of the esophagus was listed as the cause of death for 15,321 Americans in 2017.  

    Televangelist Robert Schuller died in 2015, at age 88, from esophageal cancer.

    Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed benign and other non-malignant tumors for 15,824 deaths in 2017. Such tumors can block intestines, cause bleeding or otherwise prevent systems from functioning.

    This scan shows a benign brain tumor on the auditory nerve.

    Credit: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 16,657 deaths were caused by bladder cancer.

    Andrew Archuleta of Morrison, Colorado, takes an immunotherapy drug called BCG to help treat his bladder cancer, but there is a global shortage of the drug.

    Credit: Timothy Nwachukwu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed brain cancer and cancer of the tissue around the brain for 16,804 deaths in 2017.

    Brain cancer survivor Isaija Pantic met Sacramento Kings forward Harry Giles before a game in January 2019.

    Credit: Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

  • According to statistics, 19,497 deaths were caused by non-alcoholic chronic liver diseases.

    The NASH Education Program works to spread awareness of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, an advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This plush, named Mac’Liver, is a mascot.

    Credit: NASH Education Program via Facebook

  • Doctors blamed pneumonitis — blockage of the air sacs in one or both lungs — for 20,108 deaths in 2017.

    Studies have linked one form of pneumonitis to vaping oils with vitamin E acetate. Here, Gregory Rodriguez show scars on his neck from where oxygen tubes were inserted. He became seriously ill after vaping THC.

    Credit: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 20,460 people died from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer.

    Credit: Lymphoma Research Foundation via Facebook

  • Doctors blamed alcohol-related liver diseases for 22,246 deaths in 2017.

    These Minnesota fifth graders observe the visual differences between normal human liver tissue and that of a liver damaged by alcohol-related cirrhosis.

    Credit: Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 23,359 people died from leukemia.

    Sports commentator Craig Sager died of leukemia in December 2016.

    Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

  • According to CDC statistics, 23,854 people died of suicide by gunshot in 2017.

    In April 2015, the U.S. Capitol building was placed on lockdown after a person committed suicide with a gun.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, representatives are available 24 hours a day at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

    Credit: Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed 27,106 deaths on liver and bile duct cancer in 2017.

    In August 2018, the American Liver Foundation awarded Congressman Jerry Nadler their Distinguished Public Service Award for his work on the Living Donor Protection Act.

    Credit: American Liver Foundation via Facebook

  • Prostate cancer caused 30,488 deaths in 2017.

    Los Angeles-based hot sauce store and subscription club Fuego Box raises money for prostate cancer research with their spicy chocolate challenge.

    Credit: Prostate Cancer Foundation via Facebook

  • Doctors blamed Parkinson’s disease for 31,963 deaths in 2017.

    Former President George H.W. Bush, who died in November 2018, suffered from vascular parkinsonism, a condition similar to Parkinson’s disease.

    Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

  • This catch-all category includes deaths related to seizures, hyperglycemia and sudden infant death syndrome. These disorders accounted for 32,750 deaths in 2017.

    Seen here: Actor Greg Grunberg hosted the 2019 End Epilepsy Live benefit.

    Credit: Epilepsy Foundation of America via Facebook

  • In 2017, 35,316 people died from hypertension and hypertensive renal disease.

    Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

  • Accidental falls accounted for 36,338 deaths in 2017.

    Credit: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

  • According to CDC statistics, there were 40,231 deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents in 2017.

    Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed sepsis in the blood — also known as septicemia — for 40,922 deaths in 2017.

    Judith, a septicemia survivor, shows off her Sepsis Alliance T-shirt.

    Credit: Sepsis Alliance via Facebook

  • Breast cancer claimed 42,510 lives in 2017.

    Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman died from breast cancer in 1982.

    Credit: Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 44,012 people died from pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease.

    Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.

    Credit: MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

  • In 2017, doctors blamed 50,633 deaths on nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis. These disorders involve inflammation of the kidneys and surrounding tissue.

    Credit: National Kidney Foundation via Facebook

  • Doctors blame colon, rectal and anal cancers for 53,447 deaths in 2017. 

    Colon cancer survivor Heather Matson designs her own ostomy bags. This one features images from the Wonder Woman comic. The bags — which connect to her large intestine though a port called a stoma — collect food waste.

    Credit: Eva Moss/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 55,672 people died from pneumonia and influenza (the flu).

    Actress Brittany Murphy, seen here, died of pneumonia in December 2009.

    Credit: Toni Anne Barson Archive/Getty Images

  • Accidental poisoning accounted for 64,795 deaths in 2017. Accidental drug overdoses are also included in this category.

    Nearly a quarter of a million people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses between 1999 and 2017.

    Credit: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • In 2017, 83,564 people died from complications related to diabetes.

    Activists protested the price of insulin at a rally on Wall Street in New York City in November 2019.

    Credit: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed Alzheimer’s disease for 121,404 deaths in 2017.

    Helene Oppenheimer wheeled her husband, Martin Oppenheimer, a 91-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, around a senior living facility In Dedham, Massachusetts, in April 2019.

    Credit: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

  • Doctors blamed cancers of the trachea, bronchus and lungs for 145,932 deaths in 2017.

    Dr. John Maurice and Dr. Raymond Casciari pose with a CT scanning machine at a cancer treatment hospital in Orange County, California. CT scans are used to detect lung cancer.

    Credit: Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

  • In 2017, brain-related blood circulation problems, such as stroke, claimed 146,383 lives.

    An occupational therapist works with a stroke patient using a computer system called Pablo, which uses machine learning to help patients regain hand and arm function.

    Credit: Patrick Pleul/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

  • Chronic lower respiratory disease, including chronic bronchitis, asthma and emphysema, killed 160,201 people in 2017.

    In 2005, longtime “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson died from respiratory failure caused by emphysema.

    Credit: Douglas C. Pizac / AP

  • Doctors blamed heart disease for 647,457 deaths in 2017 — more than four times the number of deaths caused by the next most common cause, chronic lower respiratory diseases.

    Credit: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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