Cancer was ranked the No. 1 cause of death in Taiwan last year for the 35th year in a row, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday, adding that pneumonia became the third leading cause.
A total of 172,418 deaths were reported last year, an increase of 5.4 percent, or 8,844 people, compared with the year before, according to the statistics released by the ministry.
The annual increase rate was an average of 2.5 percent over the past 10 years, the ministry said.
Of the people who died last year, 69,433 were female and 102,985 were male, it added.
“The high rate increase is mainly due to the aging population. There was an increase of 7,567 deaths in elderly people last year,” Statistics Department head Tsai Yu-tai (蔡鈺泰) said.
The top 10 causes of death last year were cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, hypertension, nephritis and kidney disease, and chronic liver disease and liver cirrhosis, the statistics showed.
The causes of death and their ranking were little changed from 2015, with only pneumonia rising in the list last year, pushing cerebrovascular diseases down to the No. 4 spot.
A total of 12,212 people died of pneumonia last year — an annual increase of 13.5 percent — and about 90 percent of them were aged 65 or above, Centers for Disease Control Deputy (CDC) Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.
“The main reasons include severe cold weather in late January last year and an aging population,” Chuang said.
An increase in flu outbreaks early last year, which caused 578 deaths, is also another reason for the increase, he added.
Deaths reported in February and March last year increased by about 20 percent from a year earlier, Chuang said, adding that the increases were highest for cardiovascular disease and pneumonia.
The ministry also announced the top 10 causes of death from cancer.
The deadliest cancer type last year was bronchial and lung cancers, followed by liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancers. Colon, rectal and anal cancers; breast cancer; oral cancer; prostate cancer; gastric cancer; pancreatic cancer; esophageal cancer; and ovarian cancer were the other eight deadliest cancer types.
The reason that ovarian cancer has entered the list, replacing cervical cancer, might be the government’s efforts to promote government-funded Pap smear tests over the past decade, thus decreasing cervical cancer cases, Health and Promotion Administration Deputy Director-General Yu Li-hui (游麗惠) said.
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