MEDICAL RESEARCH

CDC: 3 of 5 leading causes of death in US fell from 2010 to 2014

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Premature, or preventable, deaths from three of the five leading causes in the United States declined from 2010 to 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced with new data estimates Friday. Those causes of death are cancer, stroke and heart disease, according to a news release. However, deaths by other causes, such as drug poisoning and falls, increased during that four-year period.

"Fewer Americans are dying young from preventable causes of death," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a news release. "Tragically, deaths from overdose are increasing because of the opioid epidemic, and there are still large differences between states in all preventable causes of death, indicating that many more lives can be saved through use of prevention and treatment available today."

In 2014, the five leading causes of death for people under age 80 were stroke, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD) and accidents— accounting for 63 percent of deaths from all causes that year, according to the release. CLRDs include asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, while accidents, or unintentional deaths, include falls and drug poisonings. Of the number of people who died of those causes in 2014, the CDC estimates that 15 percent of the cancer deaths, 30 percent of the heart disease deaths, 36 percent of the CLRD deaths, and 28 percent of the stroke deaths were preventable. Forty-three percent of the unintentional deaths were preventable, the CDC estimated.

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However, from 2010 to 2014, potentially preventable deaths from cancer decreased by 25 percent, driven by a 12 percent decrease in the age-adjusted death rate from lung cancer, while potentially preventable deaths from stroke decreased by 11 percent, and potentially preventable deaths from heart disease decreased by 4 percent.

Those potentially preventable deaths by accidents increased by 23 percent and from CLRD by 1 percent, which the CDC clarified was not statistically significant.

According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids, and more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving those drugs.