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Booster Shots: Oddities, musings and news from the health worldHomicide no longer a leading cause of death

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Booster Shots: Oddities, musings and news from the health worldHomicide no longer a leading cause of death

Homicides are no longer one of the top 15 leading causes of death in the United States. (Edel Rodriguez / For The Times)

January 11, 2012, 11:25 a.m.

Homicide was not one of the nation's top 15 causes of death in 2010, according to new government statistics. That's the first time since 1965 that homicide has not ranked as a major killer of American citizens.

The top 15 list, released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzes data from death certificates. The report is preliminary; a more detailed analysis will be released later.

The death rate fell the most from 2009 to 2010 for non-Latino black males with a nearly 2% decline in deaths. The death rate for non-Latino black females decreased 1.5%.

The preliminary homicide rate for 2010 was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

Overall, life expectancy inched upward, from 78.6 in 2009 to 78.7 in 2010. Heart disease and cancer still account for about half of all deaths. HIV death rates fell 13.3% from 2009 to 2010. But the disease "remains a public health concern, especially for those between the ages of 15-64," the authors wrote.

The leading causes of death are:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Lower respiratory diseases
  • Stroke and related cerebrovascular diseases
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries)
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney diseases
  • Influenza and pneumonia
  • Suicide
  • Septicemia
  • Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
  • Hypertension and related renal disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids.

Number 15 on the list -- pneumonitis -- refers to inflammation of the lungs caused by medications or other exposures, such as breathing something harmful over time. Death rates increased in 2010 for five conditions: Alzheimer's, kidney disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, Parkinson's and pneumonitis.

The infant mortality dropped 3.9% from 2009 to 2010.

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