Risk Factors That Kill the Most Americans

We all take risks. Day-to-day life, such as driving to work, can be dangerous or even deadly -- accidents are a leading cause of death in the U.S. But it's the gambles we take with our health, and children's health, that take the most Americans' lives. A risk factor is something that increases your chance of developing a disease. Some you can control, such as diet or smoking, other risk factors may be genetic or age-related.

These are the total annual number of deaths in the U.S. by risk factor, measured across all age groups and both sexes, according to Our World in Data. Data is from 2016, sourced from the Global Health Data Exchange.

1. High Blood Pressure
1. High Blood Pressure

1. High Blood Pressure: 481,501 Deaths

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2. Smoking
2. Smoking

2. Smoking: 479,696 Deaths

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3. High Body-Mass Index (Obesity)
3. High Body-Mass Index (Obesity)

3. High Body-Mass Index (Obesity): 385,965 deaths

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4. High Blood Sugar
4. High Blood Sugar

4. High Blood Sugar: 376,498 Deaths

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5. High Cholesterol
5. High Cholesterol

5. High Cholesterol: 233,233 deaths

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6. Outdoor Air Pollution
6. Outdoor Air Pollution

6. Outdoor Air Pollution: 93,376 deaths

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7. Diet Low in Fruits
7. Diet Low in Fruits

7. Diet Low in Fruits: 92,231 Deaths

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8. Low Physical Activity
8. Low Physical Activity

8. Low Physical Activity: 91,670 Deaths

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9. Alcohol Use
9. Alcohol Use

9. Alcohol Use: 90,014 Deaths

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10. Diet Low in Vegetables
10. Diet Low in Vegetables

10. Diet Low in Vegetables: 78,288 Deaths

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11. Drug Use
11. Drug Use

11. Drug Use: 67,820 Deaths

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12. Low Bone Mineral Density
12. Low Bone Mineral Density

12. Low Bone Mineral Density: 25,994 Deaths

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13. Secondhand Smoke
13. Secondhand Smoke

13. Secondhand Smoke: 15,628 Deaths

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14. Unsafe Sex
14. Unsafe Sex

14. Unsafe Sex: 13,465 Deaths

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15. Low Birth Weight
15. Low Birth Weight

15. Low Birth Weight: 7,413 Deaths

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16. Poor Sanitation
16. Poor Sanitation

16. Poor Sanitation: 884 Deaths

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17. No Access to Hand-Washing Facility
17. No Access to Hand-Washing Facility

17. No Access to Hand-Washing Facility: 849 Deaths

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18. Household Air Pollution
18. Household Air Pollution

18. Household Air Pollution: 806 Deaths

Asbestos, mold and mildew, wood stoves, and formaldehyde are frequent causes of indoor air pollution.

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19. Unsafe Water Source
19. Unsafe Water Source

19. Unsafe Water Source: 469 Deaths

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20. Non-Exclusive Breastfeeding
20. Non-Exclusive Breastfeeding

20. Non-Exclusive Breastfeeding: 240 Deaths

Non-exclusive breastfeeding is giving an infant food or drink (even water) other than breast milk. According to the World Health Organization, exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the optimal way of feeding infants.

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21. Child Wasting
21. Child Wasting

21. Child Wasting: 208 Deaths

Wasting, or low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. It is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease, according to Unicef.

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22. Iron Deficiency
22. Iron Deficiency

22. Iron Deficiency: 45 Deaths

Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. Common symptoms are fatigue, paleness, and shortness of breath.

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23. Discontinued Breastfeeding
23. Discontinued Breastfeeding

23. Discontinued Breastfeeding: 36 Deaths

According to La Leche League, it's best to end breastfeeding gradually; ending it suddenly or too early can create problems for both the mother and child.

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24. Child Stunting
24. Child Stunting

24. Child Stunting: 19 Deaths

Impaired growth and development is caused by poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation, according to WHO.

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25. Zinc Deficiency
25. Zinc Deficiency

25. Zinc Deficiency: 4 Deaths

With a varied diet, your body usually gets enough zinc, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sources of zinc include chicken, red meat and fortified breakfast cereals. It is an uncommon deficiency in the U.S.

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26. Vitamin-A Deficiency
26. Vitamin-A Deficiency

26. Vitamin-A Deficiency: 1 death

This is a rare deficiency in the U.S. Vitamin A is found in meat, dairy and eggs, as well as red, orange, yellow and green plant foods, according to Healthline.

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These Are the 5 Leading Causes of Death in the U.S. (2016)
These Are the 5 Leading Causes of Death in the U.S. (2016)

These Are the 5 Leading Causes of Death in the U.S. (2016):

1. Cardiovascular Diseases: 901,411

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2. Cancers
2. Cancers

2. Cancers: 685,162

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3. Dementia
3. Dementia

3. Dementia: 238,895

Photo: vuqarali / Shutterstock

4. Diabetes, Blood and Endocrine Disease
4. Diabetes, Blood and Endocrine Disease

4. Diabetes, Blood and Endocrine Disease: 202,935

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5. Respiratory Disease
5. Respiratory Disease

5. Respiratory Disease: 190,691

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Source: Our World in Data, CC BY 4.0.

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