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skfinkel's avatar

I heard that more people die of anorexia than cancer...did I hear wrong?

Asked by skfinkel (13506points) October 13th, 2012

At my reunion, a woman who said she almost died while in high school almost died when she was a sophomore. Then I thought she said more people died of that than cancer. Is that true? or did I mishear?

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10 Answers

tom_g's avatar

I can’t see how that could possibly be true.

Here are the leading causes of death in the US (2009):

Heart disease: 599,413
Cancer: 567,628
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 137,353
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,842
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 118,021
Alzheimer’s disease: 79,003
Diabetes: 68,705
Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,935
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909

Sunny2's avatar

I think you heard wrong or heard incorrect information.

zenvelo's avatar

That might be true of girls ages 13 to 18, but it is in no way a major cause of teenage girl mortality. if it were, there’d be a lot more attention paid to it.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t even see why this would be a “need to know” thing. Everyone has to die of SOMETHING! I agree with @zenvelo anorexia seems to be a disease of mostly younger females while cancer, heart disease, etc. while non-age discriminating, tends towards being diseases of people 40 and over.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@zenvelo According to the South Carolina department of mental health The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.

I looked at a couple of recent studies and that calculated mortality rates and I was surprised by how high they were. So while more people obviously die of other diseases like cancer (because more people have them) more people with anorexia die from the complications of anorexia than people with cancer dying from the complications of cancer.

Sunny2's avatar

Perhaps they’re saying that more people who have anorexia nervosa percentage-wise, die of it than people who have heart problems or cancer die of their disease. Say, of 20 people with anorexia, 12 die of anorexia; and of 20 people with cancer, 7 die of cancer. In other words, cancer and heart disease are more easily cured or treated than anorexia.
Anorexia does kill; no question.

gailcalled's avatar

Apparently, anorexia and related eating disorders have the highest fatality rate among mental illnesses.

“Anorexia nervosa takes an enormous toll on the body. But that’s not all. It has the highest death rate of any mental illness. Between 5% and 20% of people who develop the disease eventually die from it.One of many sources

zenvelo's avatar

@gailcalled @Lightlyseared I read those statistics too. But they also are a bit deceptive in how they present the facts. Girls are not dying when they are 13 to 17, they are dying twenty years later. While that is very concerning to me, it is not a direct correlation to mortality.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@zenvelo I don’t see what your point is. People don’t always die the year they are diagnosed with cancer but it is generally accepted that they are more likely to die sooner than would be expected.

zenvelo's avatar

@Lightlyseared Everyone dies. But someone who gets cancer and is “cured” does not have a shortened life because they had cancer ten years ago. I know women that were anorexic in their teens that are in perfectly good health now that they are in their fifties.

I know that severe eating disorders can damage internal organs, and I am not trying to minimize the problem amongst teen age girls. But this statement:The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. means that 92% of girls 15–24 are dying because of anorexia. I don’t think that is quite happening.

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