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The methodology used in this publication to select the leading causes of death was developed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services1 .
- From 2000 to 2007, the 10 leading causes of death in Canada have been the same since 2000, but not the ranking. These 10 leading causes accounted for 77% of all deaths in 2007, continuing a decreasing trend since the year 2000, when it was 80%.
- Cancer, heart disease and stroke, the three leading causes of death, accounted for 57% of all deaths in 2007, down from 61% in 2000.
- In 2007, men and women shared six out of 10 leading causes of death. However, only four leading causes of death had the same ranking: cancer, heart disease, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease.
- The relative burden of the 10 leading causes of death was higher for males than for females, 78% of all male deaths and 76% of all female deaths.
- In 2007, cancer and heart disease remained the two leading causes of death for both men and women. Stroke was still the third leading cause of death for women, but not for men. Accidents moved up to rank third for men.
- There were three times more suicides among men than among women and twice as many more deaths caused by liver disease among men than women.
- In 2007, women accounted for 7 out of every 10 deaths from Alzheimer's disease.
- There were also differences in ranking of lower respiratory diseases and diabetes between men and women.
Sex ratio, ranking, number and percentage of male and female deaths for the 10 leading causes, Canada, 2007
Age and sex profile
- In 2007, accidents and suicide ranked first and second respectively, as leading cause of death for the young people aged 15 to 34, a trend observed since 2000.
- The relative burden of cancer was highest for individuals aged 55 to 64, when it accounted for almost half (48%) of deaths in this age group.
- In contrast, the relative burden caused by heart disease increased steadily as population aged. It surpassed the proportion of deaths caused by cancer for those aged 85 and older, where it accounted for 27% of deaths.
- In 2007, the leading cause of death for men aged 1 to 44 was accidents. However, the highest proportion (44%) of male deaths due to this cause occurred in the 15 to 24 age group. For women, accidents was the leading causes of death only for those aged 1 to 34 and the highest proportion (37%) was in the same age group as men (15 to 24).
- Among young men aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death while for young women, suicide ranked second only for those aged 15 to 24.
- Cancer, the leading cause of death for those aged 35 to 84, reached its highest proportion of deaths among men aged 55 to 74 (42%) and among women aged 55 to 64 (56%).
- Heart disease was the leading cause of death for men and women aged 85 and older, where the proportion of deaths was 27% for each sex.
Age-standardized mortality rates
- To control for the impact of population aging on death rates, comparisons over time are made using the "age-standardized mortality rate." This removes the impact of differences in the age structure of populations among areas and over time.
- From 2000 to 2007, age-standardized mortality rates generally declined for all 10 leading causes of death.
- The standardized mortality rate for cancer decreased from 180 per 100,000 population in 2000 to 166 in 2007. Conversely, the standardized rate for heart disease decreased at a faster pace for from 152 per 100,000 to 111. Thus, the gap between the standardized rates for these two causes of death widened over this period.
- From 2000 to 2007, the standardized mortality rate for heart disease also declined faster than that for cancer for both men and women.
- For the same period, the decrease in the standardized mortality rates of both leading causes of death was sharper for men. As a result, the gap between men and women for these two leading causes of death narrowed over this period.
- In 2007, cancer was the leading causes of death in all provinces and territories, except Prince Edward Island and Northwest territories.
- Heart disease was the leading cause of death in 2007 in Prince Edward Island and Northwest territories, and the second leading cause of death in all other provinces and territories except Nunavut.
- Stroke ranked third in all provinces except Quebec, where the third leading causes of death was Chronic lower respiratory diseases.
- Diabetes was among the five leading causes of death in Newfoundland and Labrador (4th) and in Manitoba (5th).
- Accidents was among the five leading causes of death in all provinces and territories, except Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.
Ranking and number of deaths for the five leading causes, Canada, provinces and territories, 2007
Comparison between Canada and Unites States
- In 2007, 9 out of 10 leading causes of death were the same for both countries, although the ranking was different. In Canada, deaths caused by cancer outranked those caused by heart disease, while in the United States the results were reversed.
- In the United States, 23% of all deaths were caused by cancer, compared with 30% in Canada. In contrast, 25% of all deaths were due to heart disease in the United States, compared with 22% in Canada. Stroke was the third leading cause of death in both countries.
- In Canada, suicide outranked homicide as a leading cause of death among young adults aged 15 to 24, while homicide ranked higher than suicide in the United States.
- In Canada, suicide and homicide ranked second and third, respectively as leading cause of death among young adults. In the United States, homicide was the second leading causes of death and suicide the third.
Ranking, number and percentage of deaths for the 10 leading causes, Canada and United States, 2007
- Heron, M. Deaths: Leading Causes of Death for 2004. National Vital Statistics Reports (National Center for Health Statistics) 2007; 56 (5).
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