We’re all fairly familiar with the leading causes of death today: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza/Pneumonia, kidney disease, and septicemia. (As an aside, you can querythe leading causes of death in detail from 1981 to present at CDC’s WONDER database.) But what were the leading causes of death in the last century?
In 1950 we find the top 10 causes of death were, in order, heart disease, cancer, stroke, accidents, infant death, influenza/pneumonia, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, kidney disease, and diabetes. Skipping farther back to 1920 the leading causes are influenza/pneumonia, heart disease, tuberculosis, stroke, kidney disease, cancer, accidents, diarrhea/enteritis, premature birth, and childbirth related conditions.
The earliest data, that from 1900, give influenza/pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhea/enteritis, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, accidents, cancer, senility, and diphtheria as the leading causes of death.
The leading causes of death from 1900 through 1998 is located here.