Leading causes of death, 2009

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Cancer, the leading cause of death in Canada, was responsible for 30% of the 238,418 deaths in 2009. Heart disease was the second leading cause of death, followed by stroke. These three causes combined accounted for 56% of all deaths in 2009, a decrease from 61% observed in 2000.

From 2000 to 2009, age-standardized mortality rates declined for all 10 of the leading causes of death. The largest relative decreases were in rates for heart disease and stroke, which both fell 33% over this period. Globally, the age-standardized mortality rate fell from 616 per 100,000 population to 515, a 16% decline.

Cancer and heart disease were the first and second leading causes of death for those over 35 years of age, while accidents and suicide were the two leading causes of death among children and younger Canadians (aged 1 to 34).

Men and women shared 9 out of 10 leading causes of death in 2009. Cancer was the leading cause for both sexes, followed by heart disease. There were, however, some differences: accidents and suicide ranked higher for men than for women; and, Alzheimer's disease figured more prominently among the leading causes for women than for men.

Note to readers

To control for the impact of population aging on death rates, comparisons over time are made using the "age-standardized mortality rate." This removes the impact of differences in the age structure of populations between reference periods.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table102-0561 to 102-0563.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers survey number3231 and survey number3233.

The publication Leading Causes of Death in Canada, 2009 (Catalogue number84-215-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications. The following publications featuring the latest mortality data are also available: Deaths, 2009 (Catalogue number84F0211X, free), Causes of Death, 2009 (Catalogue number84-208-X, free), Mortality, Summary List of Causes, 2009 (Catalogue number84F0209X, free), and the article "Suicide rates: An overview" in Health at a Glance (Catalogue number82-624-X, free). From the Key resource module of our website, choose Publications.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or the Media Hotline (613-951-4636; statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@canada.ca).