In a recent study released by the Office for National Statistics, we can see the top causes of death from the start of the 20th century to 2015.

As the quality of life has improved in the last century, the life expectancy of women and men has increased, and the causes of death have changed dramatically.

What were the top causes of death?

In 1915, both men and women’s leading cause of death was infection. However, as vaccinations were introduced for tuberculosis in the 50s, we saw the decrease of this while heart diseases began to grow for men and Cancer for women.

With the amount of motor vehicle users on the road by the mid-1930’s reaching over 2,000,000, death from motor vehicle accidents became a top cause in 1945 and continued to grow until 1985, when seatbelt regulations were first introduced.

What is the top cause for Men today?

We are acknowledging the dramatic increase in suicide as a leading cause of death for men from 15-44, as the topic of mental health is being more widely discussed across the UK.

While children and older men are mainly lost due to Cancer, suicide and drug overdose are increasing risks for young men.

How has this changed for women since 2015?

Breast cancer is the top cause of death for 25-54 year old women, and has been for this way for over 50 years. As the most common cancer in the UK it has continued to rise with 1 in 9 odds of developing breast cancer in 1999 increasing to 1 in 8 just 9 years later.

However, although it is the leading cause of death for women, the survival rates have also increased to 2 in 3, compared to less than half in the 90s.

The evolving cause of death for children

The results in the Office for National Statistic’s study shows that while the number of deaths of one-to four-year-olds was 55,607 in 1915, it decreased to 460 in 2015.

Young boys and girls cause of death has been almost identical throughout the last century with infections, and motor vehicle accidents decreasing as we have introduced vaccinations and road safety laws over the last 6 decades.

Cancer is now the largest cause of death for young children, particularly within the brain.

The lifestyle change that’s affecting cause of death

In the mid 1970s 45% of Britons over 16 were record to smoke, and as we see these Baby boomers getting older this shows in their cause of death. The popularity of smoking may reflect in the increase of 60-79 year old men & women dying from bronchus and lung cancers between 2005 – 15.

However, as only around 17% of the UK are now smokers, and the average consumption of alcohol in England and Wales has declined since 2000 our lifestyles are improving, showing from a reduction in heart disease as a main cause of death.

Find out more about the report from the Office for National Statistics, here

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