The top two causes of death in Israel between 1999-2008 were cancer and heart disease, the Health Ministry revealed in a report documenting trends for major causes of death issued on Wednesday.
The rate of cancer deaths in Israel has remained steady since the end of the 1990s, measured at 25.4 percent among men and women. The overall rate of death from heart disease dropped from 22.3 percent in 1999 to 18 percent in 2008. Among men, it dropped by 29 percent whereas among women it dropped by 23 percent.
In 2008, diabetes ranked as the third most prevalent cause of death at 6.3 percent, with stroke following at 5.2 percent. The fifth most common cause of death in Israel for men was accidents whereas the fifth for women was kidney disease. These five causes account for 60 percent of the deaths in Israel in recent years.
The report revealed a marked decrease in the rate of death from chronic lower respiratory diseases from 2000-2008, dropping by 31 percent for men and 28 percent for women. The number of diabetes-related deaths dropped by approximately one tenth.
Despite this, there was a rise in the number of deaths caused by strokes, lung infections and the flu. The latter rose by about 20 percent between 2000-2008. Flu-related deaths caused by fluid or solid lung aspirations rose by about a third.
The rate of deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of progressive dementia, rose strikingly: 35 percent increase for men and 47 percent increase among women.
Deaths from kidney diseases rose from the end of the 1990s to the early 2000s; though in recent years, a slight decline has been observed.
Among children and youth under the age of 25, the causes of death are quite different. The major cause of death in this age bracket is accidents, especially among young men ages 24-25. For women in this age range, accidents are the second or third cause of death and the third ranking cause for young children ages 0-4.
Suicide ranks as the second most common cause of death among young men aged 15-24. Cancer rates as the number one cause of death among girls aged 15-24, while it is the second or third cause among young men in this age bracket as reported at the end of 2008.
“Cancer is the main cause of death, partly due to rising life expectancy and the fact that the disease is common in old age,” said Miri Ziv, director general of the Israel Cancer Association. Ziv also said, “with the development of new technologies and treatments, there is a higher rate of survival for some forms of cancer.”
“We can decisively say that we will reduce cancer-related deaths by 50 percent with types such as skin, lung, colon and breast cancer if the public heeds warnings to stay out of the sun, avoids smoking, maintains a healthy weight, consumes less alcohol and generally aims to live a healthier lifestyle, as well as getting regular medical check-ups to ensure early detection,” Ziv added.