Causes of Death Among American Indians and Alaska NativesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent this bulletin at 04/22/2014 04:27 PM EDT
CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control sponsored a supplemental issue of the American Journal of Public Health about the leading causes of death among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. The authors are experts from many different fields.
Death records and cancer incidence records were linked with Indian Health Service registration data to identify AI/AN people correctly, as they are often incorrectly reported as being members of other racial groups. Previous studies show that nearly 30% of people who identify themselves as AI/AN when living are classified as another race at the time of death. This linkage resulted in the most reliable data to date on causes of death among AI/AN people.
- Among AI/AN people, cancer is the leading cause of death, followed by heart disease. Among other races, it is the opposite.
- Death rates from lung cancer have shown little improvement in AI/AN populations. AI/AN people have the highest prevalence of tobacco use of any population in the United States.
- Deaths from injuries were higher among AI/AN people compared to non-Hispanic whites.
- Suicide rates were nearly 50% higher for AI/AN people compared to non-Hispanic whites, and more frequent among AI/AN males and people younger than age 25.
- Death rates from motor vehicle crashes, poisoning, and falls were two times higher among AI/AN people than for non-Hispanic whites.
- Death rates were higher among AI/AN infants compared to non-Hispanic white infants. Sudden infant death syndrome and unintentional injuries were more common. AI/AN infants were four times more likely to die from pneumonia and influenza.
- By region, the greatest death rates were in the Northern Plains and Southern Plains. The lowest death rates were in the East and the Southwest.
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