Interactive Atlas Of The Leading Causes Of Premature Death

Tyler Durden's picture

While some may think trading these manipulated capital markets has become a leading cause of premature death over the past year, that is not the case. At least not yet. Instead, the leading causes of early death are shown on the chart below compiled by Wired. It maps "the global cost of early mortality - some 1.7 billion years of potential human life forefited annually - sorted by cause of death."

Not surprisingly, Wired notes that heart disease and stroke cause more than a quarter of all deaths. But since they hit mainly older people, the cost in years of life lost is relatively small. Curiously, one of the biggest net contributors to premature loss of life is Malaria, which is one of the biggest killers of children across the developing world. Also surprising: while not large (yet) in absolute terms, natural disasters are by far the fastest-growing contributor to the death toll.

The good news: the big yellow block representing infectious diseases and birth problems, is showing a rapid decline. Which means that "we're making progress; deaths from disorders that could be avoided with basic medications, clean water and neo-natal care, are on the decline."

Some additional perspectives are provided from the below two interactive maps by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, analyzing Disability Adjusted Life-Years (DALY) impact from various noted causes. A quick primer:

The disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.


Originally developed by Harvard University for the World Bank in 1990, the World Health Organization subsequently adopted the method in 1996 as part of the Ad hoc Committee on Health Research "Investing in Health Research & Development" report. The DALY is becoming increasingly common in the field of public health and health impact assessment (HIA). It "extends the concept of potential years of life lost due to premature include equivalent years of 'healthy' life lost by virtue of being in states of poor health or disability." In so doing, mortality and morbidity are combined into a single, common metric.

An interactive treemap of all causes:


A different perspective, this time broken down by risk factors. The far and ahead leader: "dietary risks", which makes sense for a nation which every day roll sever further into record obesity land.


The best news: clicking too fast on the SPY heatmap in order to benefit from Bernanke's "Wealth Effect" is still not a leading cause of premature death.

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Zero Point's picture

How tough is it to boil water?


Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Depend on fuel... coal, electricity, fission...

Zero Point's picture

Damn. If you can't gather a few twigs, you really ARE up shit creek.

ronaldawg's picture

We obviously need more war.

The Alarmist's picture

Nah, we just need more field latrines so people quit shitting in the creeks.

Anusocracy's picture

Being poor decreases lifespan by seven years.

Thank you elites, thank you government.

tickhound's picture

To hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat... same as worms.

The Machine

knukles's picture

Gotta love the elegance:  Cirrhosis of the liver noted in an article on ZH the by line of which is from Fight Club, itself an allegory of the man facing his ego as exemplified in the 12 Steps....
Oh, the humanity of it all; it's just too sweet!

markmotive's picture

Leading cause of death in the future will be lack of food.

- End of cheap transportation

- Erosion of top soil

- Climate change

Beware of the coming food stamp riots

Anusocracy's picture

Leading cause of death in the future will be T-2000 Terminators.

akak's picture

I always suspected that "pains in the neck" could be fatal --- there it is right in that chart!

Ignatius's picture

Smoking is 3rd, can you believe it?

C'mon smokers, we can do this...

We're #1, we're #1, we're....

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Funny thing. Today I diagnosed Nocardia in a patient's lung biopsy. I thought this was going to be good news( i originally thought he had TB)when I looked up his information. He had just died at age 38 from stage 4 adenocarcinoma lung cancer. He had never smoked a day in his life. I'm seeing this more and more. I used to think smoking was a scourge that should be eliminated to end all lung cancers. I am changing my mind and am sorry I was so smug in my beliefs.


Headbanger's picture

At that point the leading cause of death will become LEAD poisoning.  Of the high velocity kind.

All Risk No Reward's picture

The #4 premature cause of death is FDA approved drugs per the FDA website.

*100,000 DEATHS yearly ADRs 4th leading cause of death ahead of pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia, accidents and automobile deaths

Another 2,000,000 are maimed, sometimes permanently, every year.

Ooops, forgot that one, didn't ya fake establishment media!

Anyone who thinks the media is controlled by the Money Power Agenda is ignorant of one of the most important aspects of modern society.

FredFlintstone's picture

Mr. Josey Wales, great quote.

A Nanny Moose's picture

how many people die because of medical mistakes? Infections, drug interactions, the drug war, etc.?

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Iatrogenesis is the second or third leading cause of premature death. Can't remember which. Maybe even the leading cause, can't be bothered to google it.

The fact that this graphic completely omits it destroys its credibility.

boogerbently's picture

Whoa !!

"Iatrogenesis or iatrogenic effect, (/a??ætro??d??n?k/; "originating from a physician") is preventable harm resulting from medical treatment or advice to patients. Professionals who may sometimes cause harm to patients are: physicianspharmacistsnursesdentists psychiatristspsychologists, and therapists. Iatrogenesis can also result from complementary and alternative medicinetreatments.

In the United States an estimated 225,000 deaths per year have iatrogenic causes, with only heart disease and cancer causing more deaths."


My initial impression was "More news media ignorance or lies", then I wondered if "Wiki" may be misinformed???

It's sad and frustrating to have no where to go for the truth.

Dr. Sandi's picture

To find truth, go within. If it's not there, go without.

zerozulu's picture

"Iatrogenesis is the second or third leading cause of premature death" sounds right, but ACA will be the first in comming days.

Zero Point's picture

Spot on Alarmist.

How fucking hard is it to dig a hole?

I'd still be boiling water though, after seeing the shit NATURE puts in creeks.

Seer's picture

And then there's still the issue of animals continuing to shit in the creeks...

muleskinner's picture

Pelicans can turn a clean water small lake into one huge shithole.

Cormorants are even worse.

Don't drink tap water.

Zero Point's picture

Seems it's fifty fifty on what I thought was a pretty simple observation.

I've camped in some of the most arid regions in Australia, including open desert.

Haven't failed to light a fire yet.

I'm guessing the rice eating Africans, whose kids are dropping from disentery like flies, aren't eating their rice uncooked.

Not a big stretch to filter your muddy scum water through a peice of cloth, boil it, then let it stand overnight, tipping off the good water for drinking the next day, I would have thought.

Pretty fucking simple guys, it ain't rocket surgery.

Red triangle that bitchez.

Kobe Beef's picture

You probably have an IQ higher than 70. Apples to Oranges.

kaiserhoff's picture

Natural disasters are the fastest growing category?

Naw.  Has to be disputes over drug turf.

Pool Shark's picture



You can thank the movie: "Silent Spring"

We're more concerned with thin egg shells than millions of children dying of malaria each year.

DDT could easily have wiped out malaria in sub-Saharan Africa by now...


Zero Point's picture

Yeah, that horseshit about DDT is one of the greatest crimes in history.

Bill Gates would love it.

Trucker Glock's picture

What is this "horseshit" you speak of?

NoDebt's picture

DDT was one of the best, cheapest pesticides ever created.  It was used to control things like Malaria, Head Lice and other nasty critters.  After WWII it pretty much completely eradicated Malaria from Italy in about 3 years.  From almost half a million cases to NONE in 3 years.  Yeah, it's THAT good.

They were worried about that fact that it accumulates in the environment (doesn't break down easily- which is one of the reasons it actually works so well- it sticks around, not requiring regular re-applications) as well as being a possible carcinogen (what isn't in high enough dosage?)

Cheap, effective, easy to manufacture, doesn't even smell bad.  Unless you eat it, it won't do you any harm.  So, naturally, it was declared unsafe and banned by the EPA (mid-70s, if I recall correctly).  

kchrisc's picture

I saw a quote a few years ago that said, paraphrasing, "Funny how things suddenly become bad and banned when the patent is about to expire and a new one is waiting in the wings."

The speaker was quoting how Freon's patent was expiring and all of a sudden was bad, bad, bad.


"Is it time for the guillotines yet?"

malek's picture

 it was declared unsafe and banned by the EPA

Conveniently after the US had successfully eliminated Malaria themselves mainly by using DDT

zerozulu's picture

I remember using DDT but after 3 or 4 years of use flys were immune and were not dying any more.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Antibiotics were to eliminate all pathogenic disease. Scientists were convinced of this. Now we have more pathogens than ever that are resistant to ALL antibiotics in every class.

You are naive to think DDT would have eliminated Malaria. Nature would have come back with a vengeance and there would be highly resistant Anopheles mosquitos right now. Virulence of malaria skyrocketed after modernization of Africa. There are multitudes of reasons for this. Previous to this, malaria was endemic with a population that had natural immunity. Sickle Cell trait in Africans aided the population to live with malaria. Malaria has an extraordinarily complex life cycle. Because of the insect vector involved it is difficult to eliminate unlike Small Pox. A mosquito must bite an infected individual to receive both male and female gametocytes to continue the cycle. Then, when the sexual cycle is complete in the mosquito, it must bite a person to release the sporozoites (asexual stage).

It seems to me there must be better ways to disrupt this cycle than poisoning the environment with pesticides. Finding ways to stimulate the immune system against malaria would be good. It can hide from the immune system in the liver (cryptozoites).


NoDebt's picture

Yeah, you drain swamps and wetlands to eliminate their habitat.  You can imagine the rousing cheer the environmental types give to that idea.

Seer's picture

So, this is how it works, provide demonization of others to make one's point look like it's credible...

And if the water table is near the surface YEAR-ROUND, where the fuck are you going to drain to?

I'm thinking that a lot of you are city boys...

And as ALWAYS the case, playing god has consequences.  Man has little grasp of the connectedness of things.  Mother Nature (and entropy) will offset all that man does.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Whenever I play God, God always wins.

I think he cheats.

yofish's picture

Think they are city boys? Lordy.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Seems like they could have studied SC Anemia a bit more, for a possible cure.

That which does not kill you...

malek's picture

You are naive to ignore the fact that DDT did eliminate Malaria in many regions.

akak's picture

Yes, temporarily, and only in the short term --- which is the only timeframe that most people nowadays seem to be able to consider or comprehend.  In the long term, of course, such tactics are only a single battle in a permanent and essentially unwinnable war.

There is not, and never has been, ANY pesticide, fungicide, herbicide or antibiotic which can or will wipe out 100% of its intended victims (not without being so devastatingly toxic as to also kill the intended beneficiaries, i.e. humanity, as well).  Some ALWAYS survive and/or adapt, spreading their resistent genes into the future population.

malek's picture

see my arrogance statement below

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

You are absolutely correct malek. This did happen. Fast forward a few years. The blow back was horrendous. MASSIVE increases in malarial infections. Way more than historical rates. Scientists were aghast. One theory that was put forth was the cessation of DDT. The other theory was the population had lost its innate immunity to malaria. Babies were breast feeding from mothers ( or being fed formula promulgated by Nestle) that were not imparting globulins against malaria because they were no longer sensitized to malaria. Mechanization may also have played a role. Tractors replaced livestock for farming. Anophales Mosquitos will bite anything for a blood meal but the more you eliminate animals the greater predilection for people. Think about it. For thousands of years Africans had live with malaria and the human population on the continent wasn't wiped out. Now the west decides to help and they have a worse disaster. Plasmodium has become resistant to antimalarials. And now we want to start DDT again and develop more antimalarials drugs? What did Einstein say was the definition of stupidity?

You must realize every area is a unique population that developes immunity from its natural pathogens. Here in San Diego and in other parts of Cali we have a mold called Coccidioides immitis. Approximately 80% of people who live here have been exposed to it and are immune to it. They might not have even realized they were infected, chalking it up as a bad cold.Often we have elderly people come here to retire. They have never been exposed to this fungus and being older their immune systems may not be hardy. It is not uncommon to have them die with fulminant infections that spread to the brain. Especially if theyre Asian ( very racist fungus) who are 20x likely to have a serious infection because they absolutely have no innate immunity.

It truly pisses me off to see haughty Westerners replete with all the answers, arrogantly pressing them on othersand causing more harm in the long term.


malek's picture


Point me to links on blow back in these areas:

You cannot only point to possible or real harm in the very long term while completely ignoring the definite harm by doing nothing in the short term.

I am now waiting for someone to postulate we should completely stop using antibiotics today because
a) we might need them much more in some unknown distant future
b) the possibility and even likelihood that at some point in the future immunity will show up in the targeted species.

What this effictively displays is the arrogance of the people who don't see/have any immediate problems from doing so, while ignoring the problems of many others.

akak's picture

I'm sorry to have to say this, Malek, but your comments in this thread simply reek to me of the typical and ever-increasing, blinkered, short-term, counterproductive thinking so prevalent in American and Western society nowadays.  "Do what works (or what seems to work, or what feels right) NOW, and to Hell with the down-the-road consequences".

malek's picture

That is your choice of thinking.

I however feel I take the freedom to think for myself, not just gobble up pieces by silent-springers or more recent do-gooders.

And absolutely no-effing-one has the right to declare 1 million avoidable deaths to be acceptable because of some *possible* harm by overuse of DDT, and not even trying to go a golden middle way such as lowering use as much as possible, at the very least after nobody has found anything halfway as effective, single or combined use, against Malaria after 30+ years of research!

I remember reading an long article in the NYT of my brother-in-law almost 6 years ago, on fighting Malaria. It laid out in much detail how R&D had tried all kinds of new ways to stop Malaria or its effects - all with very little success. And it ended with "we need to keep on researching." It was actually a very good article, but such purposeful blindness in connecting the dots - unfuckingbelievable. Well I knew then that I would never subscribe the NYT.
Since then 6 million more people have died of Malaria (and noone even talks about how many got badly sick, often with consequences for the rest of their lives) and to what I know the research has been resultfree once again.

You know Akak, the real strength of people comes into display when admitting errors. Or not.
And accusing me of proposing short-term thinking, I ask you directly: then why don't we need to stop use of antibiotics as well, in your opinion?