5 Leading Causes of Death for Men in the U.S.

In honor of Men’s Health Month, we are highlighting the 5 leading causes of death for men in the United States. On average, American women live five years longer than men. Although men and women experience many of the same health issues (e.g., heart disease), certain conditions are more common for men than women (e.g., deaths from unintentional injuries). It’s important to acknowledge these unique health risks for men, in order to address and prevent early death. Read on for the top 5 causes of death for men in the United States, along with helpful tips to prevent these conditions.

1. Heart disease

Heart disease was the leading cause of death for men in the U.S. in 2017, causing nearly a quarter of all male deaths (24.2%). Heart disease refers to many different conditions of the heart including coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest, and high blood pressure. Most heart diseases are caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, and being overweight, which means that prevention includes taking steps to eat better and remain active.

2. Cancer

The second largest killer for men in 2017 was cancer, to which 21.9% of male deaths in 2017 could be attributed. Depending on the type of cancer, there are many causes of and methods to prevent cancer. The best ways to reduce your cancer risk include maintaining a healthy weight, using sun protection, eating nutritious, pesticide-free foods, exercising, and avoiding smoking, alcohol, and air pollution. 

3. Unintentional injuries

Around 8% of American male deaths were caused by unintentional injuries in 2017. Unintentional injuries include car accidents, occupational injuries, overdoses, falls, and gunshot wounds. Men are nearly twice as likely as women to die from unintentional injuries, which may be due to gender-related norms related to risk-taking behavior. To prevent these deaths, it’s important for men to avoid high-risk activities such as drunk driving and dangerous physical activities.

4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases

Chronic lower respiratory diseases include asthma, COPD, and bronchitis, and caused 5.2% of deaths for men in the U.S. in 2017. Chronic lower respiratory diseases are most typically caused by smoking tobacco, but can also be attributed to air pollution and occupational exposures (e.g., dust, chemicals). Most importantly, men should not smoke tobacco, or at least reduce tobacco use if stopping completely is unrealistic. Additionally, men should avoid exposure to allergens and other triggers as much as possible. 

5. Stroke 

Strokes led to 4.3% of American male deaths in 2017. Stroke is most often caused by blocked arteries or leaking/bursting blood vessels. Risks factors for stroke include diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure and cholesterol. Considering these risk factors, most stroke prevention measures involve basic healthy lifestyle choices such as healthy eating, exercise, and treating pre-existing health conditions (e.g., diabetes, atrial fibrillation). 


Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (2019, November 20). Leading Causes of Death-All races and origins-Males – United States, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/lcod/men/2017/all-races-origins/index.htm

Chughtai, B., & Zaidi, N. (2018, July). Unintentional injury in men: Trends and risk reduction. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.urologytimes.com/view/unintentional-injury-men-trends-and-risk-reduction

Simply Insurance. (2019). Average U.S. Life Expectancy Statistics by Gender, Ethnicity & State. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.simplyinsurance.com/average-us-life-expectancy-statistics/

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