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U.S Death Rates for Common Causes have Dropped, Report Finds

Update Date: Oct 28, 2015 05:19 PM EDT

Fewer Americans are dying from the common causes of death, a new study is reporting.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society reported that the overall rate of deaths linked to common causes have declined by 43 percent. More specifically, death rates declined by 77 percent for stroke, 68 percent for heart disease, 40 percent for injuries, 18 percent for cancer and 17 percent for diabetes.

Deaths from obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), however, have increased significantly between 1969 and 2013.

"We continue to make progress in reducing death rates from five of the six major causes of death," said lead researcher Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, the society's vice president for the surveillance and health services research program. "But the death rate from COPD doubled."

The researchers stated that smoking patterns in men and women help explain the increase in COPD deaths. For example, since women picked up smoking at a much later time than men, more women are dying from COPD today. Overall, the reduced smoking rates as well as better diagnostic tests and treatments, have led to decline of death from these common causes.

"Tobacco control, high blood pressure prevention and management, early detection and screening, and improvements in treating heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer have substantially contributed to reductions in death rates," lead study author Jiemin Ma, director of the surveillance and health services research program at the American Cancer Society, told Fox News via email.

In order to reduce these rates even further, people must focus on prevention.

"If we apply what we know in preventing cancer, heart disease, stroke, COPD and diabetes, we could reduce deaths by half," Dr. Jemal continued. "There is a huge opportunity to prevent these diseases."

Prevention mainly involves leading a healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising frequently and getting yearly health physicals.

The report was published in the JAMA.

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