Causes of death

Added August 2020

How long will I live? What is most likely to kill me?

Average U.S. life expectancy is currently 78.6 years. Here are some life expectancy calculators.

In the U.S., the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer. (See also this cool visualization.) The greatest risk factor for all major life-threatening disorders is aging.

Heart disease

Heart disease involves inadequate blood flow to and from your heart. It is caused by high blood pressure and cholesterol.

High blood pressure (hypertension) can damage your arteries, decreasing the flow of blood to your heart. The build up of cholesterol in the arteries also decreases the flow of blood.

This can lead to heart attack (a part of the heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood) or heart failure (the heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen to the rest of your body).

Things you can do to decrease your risk of heart disease include eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise (more). You can also reduce blood pressure by fasting, and by donating blood.


Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. In the U.S., the leading cancer deaths are caused by lung, breast, prostate, colon, and pancreatic cancer.

The CDC supports screening for breast, cervical, colon, and lung cancers. You can lower your risk of cancer by not smoking and by being generally healthy.


The most promising antiaging interventions are caloric restriction and fasting, and drugs which mimic the effects of caloric restriction.


CDC, NHS, longevity interventions