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Public Health Rep. 2006 Nov-Dec;121(6):746-54.

The contribution of specific causes of death to sex differences in mortality.

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Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, 911 Broxton Ave., Ste. 101, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.



Men have higher mortality rates than women for most causes of death. This study was conducted to determine the contribution of specific causes of death to the sex difference in years of potential life lost (YPLL).


The authors examined data from the National Health Interview Survey with linked mortality data through 1997. Using survival analysis estimates, a stochastic simulation model to simulate death events for cohorts of white, African American, and Latino adults was created.


YPLL from all causes were greater among men than women. Homicide, motor vehicle accidents, and suicide accounted for 33% of YPLL sex difference among whites, 36% among African Americans, and 52% among Latinos. For all three racial/ethnic groups, cardiovascular disease (principally ischemic heart disease) was the second largest contributor to the sex difference in YPLL (29% among whites, 23% among African Americans, and 25% among Latinos). Lung cancer was also important among whites and African Americans, accounting for 15% and 17% of the sex difference in YPLL from all causes, respectively.


Ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, and traumatic deaths account for as much as three-quarters of the excess YPLL among men, suggesting that a few modifiable behaviors such as the use of tobacco, alcohol.

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