More than 7,000 people died from natural disasters in 2016, and 34,676 died from terrorism, but these are not leading causes of death on the planet. Causes of death vary significantly by country and income levels across the world. Even so, as living standards improve, life expectancy is increasing and the most common causes of death have changed over time. In 1900, a leading cause of death was pneumonia and influenza, these and other communicable diseases fall farther down the list today.
Based on the report Causes of Death by Hannah Ritchie, a researcher at Our World in Data and Max Roser, the site's founder, these are the leading causes of death in the world. Data is from 2016.
1. Cardiovascular Diseases
Number of deaths: 17.65 million
Share of deaths: 32.26%
Number of deaths: 8.93 million
Share of deaths: 16.32%
Above, runners raise money for cancer in Sussex, England in 2017.
Photo: Ian_Stewart / Shutterstock
3. Respiratory Disease
Number of deaths: 3.54 million
Share of deaths: 6.48%
Respiratory diseases include deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a disease of the lungs due to inhalation of dust.
Photo: Andrew Babble / Shutterstock
4. Diabetes, Blood and Endocrine Disease
Number of deaths: 3.19 million
Share of deaths: 5.83%
Number of deaths: 2.38 million
Share of deaths: 4.36%
These are the deaths attributed to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
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6. Lower Respiratory Infections
Number of deaths: 2.38 million
Share of deaths: 4.35%
Acute lower respiratory infections include pneumonia.
7. Neonatal Deaths
Number of deaths: 1.73 million
Share of deaths: 3.16%
Neonatal death is when a baby dies in the first 28 days after birth.
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8. Diarrheal Diseases
Number of deaths: 1.66 million
Share of deaths: 3.03%
Diarrheal disease remains one of the largest causes of death in children, and in some countries, such as Kenya, it is the top mortality cause, according to the report. Diarrheal diseases are typically a symptom of infections within the intestinal tract and is contracted through poor hygiene, sanitation, unsafe water sources, or contaminated food. Most deaths result from dehydration. Diarrheal deaths disproportionately affect the young and the old: 42% of global deaths were from those aged 70 years or older, with 27% under 5 years old, the report says.
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9. Road Incidents
Number of deaths: 1.34 million
Share of deaths: 2.45%
This includes deaths from all road vehicles, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
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10. Liver Disease
Number of deaths: 1.26 million
Share of deaths: 2.3%
Number of deaths: 1.21 million
Share of deaths: 2.22%
The World Health Organization estimates that up to one-quarter of the global population has latent TB, meaning they have been infected with the disease but are not ill with the disease (although this does not inhibit it from becoming active in the future). Above, children in Malaysia are vaccinated for TB.
Photo: Yusnizam Yusof / Shutterstock
12. Kidney Disease
Number of deaths: 1.19 million
Share of deaths: 2.17%
Above, people undergo hemodialysis.
13. Digestive Disease
Number of deaths: 1.09 million
Share of deaths: 2%
Digestive diseases refers to all deaths resultant from ulcer diseases, pancreatitis, gallbladder, bowel disease, gastritis and intestinal diseases. Above, people go through a ride at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum that shows how the digestive system works.
Photo: Air Elegant / Shutterstock
Number of deaths: 1.03 million
Share of deaths: 1.89%
Photo: De Visu / Shutterstock
Number of deaths: 817,148
Share of deaths: 1.49%
Number of deaths: 719,551
Share of deaths: 1.32%
Number of deaths: 390,794
Share of deaths: 0.71%
18. Nutritional Deficiencies
Number of deaths: 368,107
Share of deaths: 0.67%
Above, children wait for food from a relief team in Lahore, Pakistan in 2012.
Photo: gary yim / Shutterstock
Number of deaths: 318,400
Share of deaths: 0.58%
Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, usually caused by bacterial or viral infection. Injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections also can cause meningitis, according to the CDC.
20. Protein-Energy Malnutrition
Number of deaths: 308,394
Share of deaths: 0.56%
Protein-energy malnutrition refers to energy or protein deficiency caused by insufficient food intake. It can also be exacerbated by infection or disease. Children under 5 are disproportionately affected, accounting for 54% of global deaths the report says.
Above, a monument to the Irish famine in Dublin, Ireland.
Photo: Giannis Papanikos / Shutterstock
Number of deaths: 302,932
Share of deaths: 0.55%
For every country in the world, drowning is among the top 10 killers for children
22. Maternal Deaths
Number of deaths: 230,615
Share of deaths: 0.42%
Pregnant women wait for an ultrasound scan at a hospital in Uganda.
Photo: Dennis Wegewijs / Shutterstock
23. Parkinson's Disease
Number of deaths: 211,296
Share of deaths: 0.39%
24. Alcohol Disorders
Number of deaths: 173,893
Share of deaths: 0.32%
This refers to death as a direct result of alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse.
25. Intestinal Infectious Diseases
Number of deaths: 155,449
Share of deaths: 0.28%
Above, a man takes anti-cholera medication in South Sudan.
Photo: punghi / Shutterstock
26. Drug Disorder
Number of deaths: 143,775
Share of deaths: 0.26%
This refers to direct death as a result of drug dependence and drug abuse.
Number of deaths: 134,045
Share of deaths: 0.25%
Number of deaths: 132,084
Share of deaths: 0.24%
Photo: Krista Kennell / Shutterstock
Number of deaths: 115,782
Share of deaths: 0.21%
Pictured is the city of Homs, Syria, damaged in the country's civil war. The United Nations estimated that more than 400,000 people died in the war.