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Growth through Natural Increase: Deaths, Current Trends

homicide rates, homicide victims, new diseases, unhealthy lifestyle, leading causes of death

Since those days of miracle drugs, however, the rates for cancer have risen, despite considerable improvements in treatment. Cancer and heart disease were the leading causes of death in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, in part due to the aging of the American population and the successes in curing other diseases. Another reason these diseases became more common is the unhealthy lifestyle of many Americans, who eat high-fat foods and high-calorie snacks and do not exercise enough. In addition, pollution is a suspected cause of cancer.

Additionally, new diseases emerged and old diseases resurfaced in the last quarter of the 20th century. The most serious of the new diseases was acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In 1995 it ranked as the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, but it has since declined significantly. Some diseases—such as tuberculosis, thought to be nearly wiped out because of antibiotics—developed resistance to drugs most commonly used to treat it. Cases of tuberculosis increased during the 1980s, and decreased only after 1991, when the government started taking aggressive steps to halt the increase.

A significant cause of death in the United States in the 20th century is unrelated to disease. During the span of the 20th century, homicide rose from insignificant levels to become a major cause of death. It was, in 1998, the number-three cause of death among children from the ages of 1 to 4, the number-four cause of death among children from 5 to 14, and the number-two cause among young adults from 15 to 24. Only after age 45 does homicide disappear as a major cause of death. While homicide rates in the United States remain higher than in other industrialized nations, in the 1990s the homicide rate began to fall dramatically. In 1991 there were 9.8 homicide victims for every 100,000 people in the United States; by 1999 the rate had decreased to 5.7 victims per 100,000.



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