This Scary Disease is the Leading Cause of Death Around the World

It turns out the leading causes of death, globally, are slightly different than the things most likely to kill you if you live in the United States. While chronic diseases populate the majority of our top 10 list, there are many preventable health conditions many victims never recover from that you might not expect.

Our World in Data put together a list of the most common causes of death around the world. Can you guess the most deadly of them all?

10. Liver disease

Drinking alcohol

Alcohol can be a killer. | Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 1.2 million

Cirrhosis and viral infections account for the majority of annual liver disease deaths, though liver cancers also impact many around the world. Hepatitis B and C, alcohol abuse, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can all contribute to a nonfunctional liver.

Next: This cause of death isn’t a disease, but it’s still devastating.

9. Road accidents

hands on steering wheel

Driving is more dangerous than most people realize. |

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 1.3 million

Traffic-related accidents can occur for a number of reasons, but drivers may be the ones least in danger. The World Health Organization warns that over half of road accident deaths around the world occur among pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists, who are least protected from danger.

Next: Some of the world’s most preventable diseases still take lives every day.

8. Diarrheal diseases

Closeup photo of woman sitting on toilet and using toilet paper

Dehydration is the main concern, especially for kids. | Artfoliophoto/iStock/Getty Images 

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 1.7 million

Diseases like cholera are not only preventable, but totally treatable. Not everyone around the world has access to proper treatment, though. Unfortunately, many of these unnecessary deaths occur among children under 5, who are more susceptible to the affects of dehydration.

Next: This cause of death might be the most heartbreaking.

7. Neonatal deaths

Babies need extra care and attention. |

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 1.7 million

Babies’ chances of survival increase the older they get. Sadly, thousands never make it past their first few months of life. Don’t worry, though — there’s some good news. Neonatal and child mortality rates have gone down significantly in the past few decades. There’s a good chance they’ll continue to drop.

Next: You may have encountered this disease firsthand before.

6. Pneumonia and similar infections

Hospital nurse helps a senior woman breath through an oxygen mask

Infections should be monitored closely.| lisafx/ Getty Images

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 2.4 million

Infections of the lower respiratory tract can include bronchitis, influenza, or pneumonia. Though they are treatable with antibiotics (in the case of pneumonia), medications, or rest and fluids, they spread easily, and vulnerable populations might not be able to survive the symptoms.

Next: This disease first takes over a person’s mind, then takes their body.

5. Dementia

Senior couple in the park

There are habits you can form to help avoid dementia. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 2.4 million

Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia impact both those directly affected as well as their loved ones. Complications develop slowly and progress unpleasantly. You’re actually more likely to develop dementia if you already have one of several chronic health conditions.

Next:You might be surprised to know this disease can actually kill you.

4. Diabetes and related diseases

Man checking blood sugar level

This disease impacts millions. |

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 3.2 million

Hormone and blood-related diseases such as diabetes affect millions of lives annually around the world. Without the proper care, regardless of the type of diabetes or hormone irregularity, the body’s organs can actually shut down.

Next: These diseases can make it difficult, if not impossible, to breathe.

3. Lung disease

man coughing as he stands outside

Keep an eye on your lung health. |

Number of annual deaths worldwide: 3.5 million

Chronic respiratory diseases obstruct the airways of millions every year. They affect many different areas of the lungs, and can deprive people of the oxygen they need to survive. Asthma, COPD, and obstructive sleep apnea are among the most common conditions in this category.

Next: You’re likely to experience this disease in your lifetime.

2. Cancer

Senior woman in hospital

Cancer is a top killer across the world. |

Number of annual deaths worldwide: About 9 million

Approximately 8.9 million people lost their lives to some form of cancer in 2016. In 2012, lung, breast, and colorectal cancers were the most common types worldwide. Breast cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women around the globe.

Next: This type of chronic disease is responsible for more deaths than any other around the globe.

1. Heart disease

Stethoscope sitting on an red ECG printout

And the No. 1 killer is … |

Number of annual deaths worldwide: Over 17 million

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 18 million people died as the result of some type of heart disease in 2015. It accounted for about 31% of all deaths globally that year, killing more people than anything else in every single country.

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