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During 2001–2006, heart disease and cancer were the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for nearly half of all deaths each year.

During this period, the age-adjusted death rate for heart disease declined 19.5%, from 247.8 per 100,000 standard population to 199.4, and the age-adjusted cancer death rate declined 7.8%, from 196.0 to 180.8.

Changes in the other leading causes of death were less pronounced.

SOURCE: Heron M, Hoyert DL, Xu J, Scott C, Tejada B. Deaths: preliminary data for 2006. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2008;56(16).

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20June2008, MMWR Weekly / 57(24);666]