While Swine Flu is nothing to sneeze at, it pales in comparison to things like cancer and heart disease in terms of deadliness. What’s more, your standard, run-of-the-mill flu is more deadly in the U.S. than Swine Flu.
U.S. death rates from major causes between 2005 and 2006, according to the National Center for Health Statistics:
1. Heart disease: 629,191
Poor diet, use of tobacco and lack of exercise, among other things, put many Americans at risk for heart disease. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for heart disease, lung cancer and lung disease.
2. Cancers: 560,102
There are over 200 varieties of cancer, each differing in severity and treatment options. According to a 2008 paper published by the American Cancer Society, cancer kills about 1,500 people per day. The good news is that advancements in detection have resulted in a dramatic improvement in the 5-year survival rate, from 50 percent in the 1970s to 66 percent today.
3. Stroke: 137,265
Not only is stroke the third-leading cause of death, it is the number one cause of adult disability. Stoke, also known as ‘brain attack,’ is the result of a clot blocking the flow of blood to an area of the brain. The National Stroke Association identifies smoking, obesity and excessive alcohol consumption as lifestyle stroke risk factors.
4. Respiratory diseases: 124,614
Common respiratory diseases include lung disease, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis and tuberculosis. Tobacco smoking, allergens, and indoor and outdoor air pollution are important risk factors, according to the World Health Organization.
Poor diet increases one’s vulnerability to stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
5. Accidents: 117,748
Car accidents, poisoning, falls (especially among the elderly), drowning and choking (common among infants are the most common lethal accidents. The National Safety Council reports that in 2005 over 45,000 people died from car accidents alone. Guns
6. Alzheimer’s disease: 72,914
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is characterized by the deterioration of nerve cells in the brain. The cause of Alzheimer’s is not yet known, but the disease has a strong correlation with the elderly. Most Americans who suffer from the disease are over age 65. There is currently no treatment for Alzheimer’s.
7. Diabetes: 72,507
Diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce (Type I) or properly use (Type II) insulin, which is necessary to convert sugars and starches in food into energy. The disease is caused by a variety of genetic and lifestyle factors. The American Diabetes Association recommends maintaining a healthy diet and weight and getting regular exercise.
The CDC says the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.
8. Influenza/pneumonia: 56,247
Garden-variety flu kills about 36,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC says this figure includes ‘flu-related deaths,’ cases in which influenza was a contributor but not necessarily a primary cause of death. Nearly 200,000 are hospitalized from related complications. The majority of fatalities are among the young and elderly.