Cancer remains leading cause of death

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Cancer remains leading cause of death

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The leading cause of death among Koreans is cancer, while suicide, often ranked high on the list, has fallen compared to the past to fifth, new government data shows.

A total of 275,895 Koreans died last year, up 3.1 percent from the previous year, according to figures released by Statistics Korea on Tuesday. The agency said the increase was largely due to an aging population.

An average of 150.8 out of 100,000 people in the general population died last year from cancer, the No. 1 cause of death, followed by cardiovascular diseases with 55.6 people and cerebrovascular diseases with 48 people.

“The number of people who died from pneumonia continued to rise, and it was the fourth-ranked cause of death in Korea, whereas it was 10th back in 2004,” said Lee Jee-yeon, a director at Statistics Korea. “Fewer people died from suicide, while more people died from pneumonia and cardiovascular diseases.”

By type of cancer, most died from lung cancer, followed by liver and stomach. Of the total number of people who passed away from cancer last year, 34.1 had lung cancer, a 0.6 percent drop from the previous year.

Stomach cancer was most prevalent among those who died from cancer in their 30s. Koreans also had the highest rate of stomach cancer in the world.

Among those who died from cancer in their 40s and 50s, liver was the most prevalent type. Lee cited Koreans’ high rate of drinking as a factor.

Those over the age of 60 died mostly from lung cancer.

The number of men dying from cancer was 160 percent higher than the figure for women, but for both, the leading type was lung.

The number of Koreans who killed themselves dropped 2.3 percent from the previous year to 13,513. The average number of suicides per day was 37.

“May was the month with the highest number of suicides; 10.1 percent of the total number of people who killed themselves committed suicide in May,” Lee said.

April came in second with 9.9 percent, and December had the lowest with 7.2 percent of total suicides, matching a worldwide trend of suicides peaking in late spring and bottoming out in the winter months.

The number of men who committed suicide was 240 percent higher than the figure for women.

Suicide continues to be the leading cause of death among those in their teens, 20s and 30s. Cancer led in other age groups.

The death rate was lowest in Seoul, with 306.6 deaths per 100,000 people last year, followed by Gyeonggi with 328.7 deaths.

The figure was highest in the southern port city of Ulsan, with 383.9 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by North Chungcheong and South Gyeongsang, both with 381.8 deaths.

The number of people dying from alcohol-related diseases rose 5.4 percent year on year to 9.3 people per 100,000 who died last year.

The number of men dying from such diseases was 680 percent higher than the figure for women and was highest among those in their 30s, 40s and 50s.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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