Question: What disease is most commonly found in people

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  1. Let’s narrow the question down a little. I’ll restrict it to Australia, for one thing, and I’ll restrict it to the current time (as the answer to this question will depend on where you ask it, and when you ask it).

    There’s also two ways to answer this question: with causes of death, and prevalence. Causes of death means what people are actually dying from, while prevalence means what percentage of the population is living with a given disease. Thus, a disease with a higher prevalence is more common.

    In terms of causes of death, the most common disease in people (in Australia, right now), is heart disease followed by cancer. (You can see the source of my numbers here if you want; look for Table 2.10 and 2.12; I’m ignoring some subtleties here, too). You might have meant ‘infectious disease’ when you asked the question, which is disease caused by something foreign to the body, like AIDS or the flu. By that measure, that most common disease in Australians would be flu, as it kills the most people after heart disease, cancer, and (in men), suicide.

    It’s important to note that cancer and heart disease have become the most common disease in humans in developed nations. This has been a process over time as health care has gotten more and more effective, and people have lived longer and longer lives. In fact, you can see this changing over time in the first table of this page showing that from 1921 to 1995 deaths from all causes have gone down, but infectious disease has taken a sharp fall compared to heart disease or cancer.

    Finally, if we look at prevalence instead, the question becomes a lot more difficult to answer. For one thing, it’s hard to compare ‘prevalence’ of something like the flu, which lasts for a few days to a few weeks in any one person, to the prevalence of something like cancer or heart disease, which can last for weeks, months, or years. I don’t have the space to untangle those sorts of things here, so instead I’m going to refer to a statistic published by the Australian government called the burden of disease. As they state, it measures…

    […] mortality, disability, impairment, illness and injury arising from 176 diseases, injuries and risk factors using a common metric […]

    Measured that way, you can see in Figure 2.6 of this report that the burden of disease is still highest for cancer and heart disease (though they reverse positions from the cause of death statistics), and infectious diseases come in way down the list.

    I hope that helps answer your question; I’ve had to throw a bunch of new things at you, so feel free to comment if you need a better explanation!


  2. great question…

    But, major diseases in the Western world (=rich, lots of food, good life) are very different to that in the developing countries (=poor, lack of food and clean water, no so good life).
    But overal, the biggest killer is cardiovascular disease (30.5% of all deaths every year is due to this). It’s not surprising….loads of people eat too much and don’t exercise, they get fat (in Australia more than 50% of adults are overweight or obese) and the fat clogs up the arteries and the heart.

    If you ever need to do any school projects on disease etc, the website from the World Health Organization is the best to use.

    Some “fun” facts about death:
    1. Most deaths happen in middle and south Africa (lack of food and clean water, infectious diseases)
    2. Average life expectancy for everybody in the world is 68
    3. Most common disease causing death PER YEAR. From all people dying,
    30.5% die from cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks and strokes in brain biggest killers)
    15.3% die from infectious and parasitic disease (diarrhoea is biggest killer, leads to dehydration)
    13.3% die of cancer (lung cancer is the biggest killer)
    9% die from injuries (traffic accidents and suicide biggest killers)
    7.4% die from lung problems
    6.2% die from lung infections
    4.6% die as a newborn baby (born too early is biggest killer)
    3.9% die from problems with their digestive system (a dysfunctional liver is biggest killer)
    2.3% die from brain diseases (Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are biggest killers)
    2.2% die from diabetes (!!!!! uncontrolled diabetes can kill you!)
    the rest is made up of people dying while giving birth, not enough vitamins/minerals in their food,
    or problems with other organs

    The biggest killer in Africa is diarrhoea (no clean drinking water)
    The biggest killer in the USA, Europe and Western Pacific countries is cardiovascular disease (too much fatty foods), the second biggest killer for the USA, Europe and Western Pacific is cancer
    The biggest killers in Asia are cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases

    In South East Asia, they have the most amount of people that die from injuries (traffic accidents and falling off stuff)……

    Top 10 most common diseases (not death) from high to low in the entire world:
    1. Iron deficiency (not enough iron in your body, your red blood cells need iron to transport oxygen)
    2. Iodine deficiency (that’s why it’s often added to food products, you can’t live without it)
    3. Migraines (and researchers still don’t know what causes a migraine and how to fix it)
    4. Vision problems
    5. Schistosomiasis (a parasite you get from dirty water, often happens in Africa)
    6. Malnutrition (not enough proper food)
    7. Asthma
    8. Diabetes
    9. Hearing loss
    10. Edentulism (it means tooth loss, having no teeth!)

    Top 3 diseases in Africa: Schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS and iron deficiency
    Top 3 diseases in USA & Europe: iron deficiency, migraine and asthma
    Top 3 diseases in Asia: iron deficiency, iodine deficiency, not enough vitamins/minerals