Mortality rates fell 18% for women and 21% for men between 1999 and 2019, when adjusted for changing age distributions.[1] But the annual death rate for men remains 40% higher than it is for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were 847 deaths per 100,000 men in 2019 compared to 603 deaths per 100,000 women.

Men die of heart disease and cancer — the leading causes of death for both genders — at higher rates than women. Fatal accidents and suicide are also more common among men. Data shows that men are less likely to see a doctor regularly or get a flu shot, and they are more likely to have a substance abuse disorder.

While mortality rates have dropped, men remain more likely to die each year than women.

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How do the leading causes of death vary by gender?

Men are 62% more likely to die of heart disease than women and 37% more likely to die of cancer. Accidents like car crashes, falls, and unintentional poisoning are the third most common cause of death for men but the sixth leading cause for women. Transport accidents are the most frequent, accounting for 26% of accidental deaths among men in 2019. Falls were responsible for 18%.

Men die of heart disease, cancer, and accidents more often than women.

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Suicide is the eighth most common cause of death for men, compared to the 14th most likely cause for women. Almost 56% of male suicides in 2019 used guns.

Men are less likely to see doctors, and they have other risk factors.

As of 2019, the CDC found that 80% of men had seen a doctor or other healthcare professional in the past year, compared to 90% of women. About 84% of men had a usual place of care, while 91% of women did. Men are also less likely to get flu shots, at a rate of 43% compared to 51% of women.

Men are more likely to engage in substance use. In 2019, 15% of men reported actively smoking cigarettes to the CDC, compared to 13% of women. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found that 4% of men and 2% of women had an illicit drug use disorder in 2019. That year, 7% of men and 4% of women had an alcohol use disorder.

Mortality rates among American men vary by race.

Black men die at the highest rates, though the gap between them and the next highest groups of men has shrunk in the past 20 years. Overall mortality rates among Black men fell 26% between 1999 and 2019.

Black men have the highest mortality rates.

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Black men are 26% more likely than white, non-Hispanic men to die of heart disease and 17% more likely to die of cancer. They are 86% more likely to die of prostate cancer, which kills 13.8 Black men per 100,000 and 7.4 white, non-Hispanic men per 100,000.

Some leading causes of death shift for men of different races and ethnicities. Homicide is the fifth most common cause of death among Black men.[2] It is also among the top 10 causes of death of Hispanic and Native American men, but not for Asian and Pacific Islander or white, non-Hispanic men.

The leading causes of death for men vary by race.

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Read more about health in the United States at the State of the Union in Numbers.

WONDER, Underlying Cause of Death by Bridged-Race Categories
[1]

Most common causes of death are ranked by the total number of deaths they lead to each year. Age-adjusted rates can alter these relative rankings. Homicide ranks fifth in absolute deaths but sixth according to age-adjusted death rates for Black men.

[2]

The CDC explains age-adjusted mortality rates as follows: "The rates of almost all causes of disease, injury, and death vary by age. Age adjustment is a technique for 'removing' the effects of age from crude rates so as to allow meaningful comparisons across populations with different underlying age structures. For example, comparing the crude rate of heart disease in Florida with that of California is misleading, because the relatively older population in Florida leads to a higher crude death rate, even if the age-specific rates of heart disease in Florida and California were the same. For such a comparison, age-adjusted rates are preferable."