The things that will kill me.

So I had my annual physical this week.  I expected this meeting consisted of me going into the doctor with all sorts of data about the top ten things that kill American white men aged 40 and asking to be tested, and him refusing.  This being a new doctor, I was ginger about how I approached these questions.  I started, as we all should, with the CDC’s website.  Instead of the puffery, I went straight to the research and got the data, the most important of which is "National Vital Statistics Report: Deaths, Leading Causes for 2004". 

It takes a couple of years to compile this data, and it was just released and updated in November 2007, so it was the most current.  I picked it up and then dug into find what’s been killing American men.  I only focused on the top 10, figuring that the more obscure the cause of death, the less likely I am to succumb to it, and the less practical it is to screen for.  Though if I die of #11 on the list, it will be aggravating.

So the top 10 things that are likely to kill a white* male aged 40 are:

  1. Accidents
  2. Diseases of the heart
  3. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
  4. Intentional self-harm (suicide)
  5. HIV
  6. Chronic liver disease and cirhosis
  7. Assault (homicide)
  8. Diabetes-related maladies
  9. Cerebrovascular disease
  10. Influenza and pneumonia

*(No, I’m not white, but economically I think I am, and in fact, I’m
ethnically half white.  And there’s no table of what kills people of
‘cracker/Pakistani origin, so this will have to do)

This items are 80% of the causes of death.  I ticked off the stuff I’d done to address them.

"Doc, I avoid hard liquor (#6), sold both my motorcycles (#1), gave up snowboarding (#1), don’t cheat on my wife (#5), and try and focus on the things that make me happy (#4).  Also I’m more than happy to give up my wallet in a mugging (#7) which I know I can do, because I’ve been mugged in Brooklyn."

He seemed pretty comfortable with my list and started a list of his own.  He pulled out the complete blood and urine test sheet he was filling out and started checking off the items he was testing for.  When he was done we’d covered my list between the two.  The only other one is a flu shot.  I need to get one to deal with the influenza risk.

What I found amazing is that there’s no website business for this.  I would think that someone would have created a website where you put in your age and it tells you what you’re likely to die of, but it hasn’t been done yet.  So if you’re the kind of entrepreneur who wants to do this, call me to beta test.  I’ll be your evangelist.


  1. billfrog on January 13, 2008 at 5:28 pm