The countries with the highest mortality rates from diseases like cancer and heart disease have been revealed — and the United States has landed in the top ten.
Researchers analyzed data on death rates from six common non-communicable diseases — conditions not caused by an infection and that cannot be spread from person to person — across 38 mostly high income countries.
The diseases investigated were cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, liver disease and kidney disease. The team assigned each country a mortality score out of 10, with one being the best and 10 being the worst, for each disease and overall.
Turkey took the top spot with the highest overall mortality score, the researchers found, and the United States ranked ninth overall — overtaking the United Kingdom and seemingly less developed nations like Colombia and Costa Rica. Data showed the UK ranked 24th while Australia fared even better in 37th place.
America’s poor position was blamed on a combination of high obesity rates — raising the risk of multiple diseases — and previously higher smoking rates.
Researchers also looked at mortality scores within the US, and found Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia had the highest rates and Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York came in with the lowest mortality rate.
The research was carried out by life insurance experts at William Russell earlier this year using the most up-to-date figures from the World Health Organization and World Bank.
Figures were converted into deaths per 100,000 people to allow for comparison between nations.
A fascinating interactive map published by Our World in Data illustrates the huge divide in obesity rates.
Countries were then ranked on their mortality rates for each disease, with scores then averaged to give an overall figure out of 10.
All countries included in the analysis are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a forum of 37 countries with market-based economies founded in 1961.
Of the countries studied, Turkey had the highest mortality score, earning 8.34 out of 10, from the selected diseases — driven by its high death rate from kidney disease, strokes and lung disease.
Rounding out the top five were Hungary (8.29), the Slovak Republic (7.57), Mexico (7.39) and Poland (7.25).
But the US ranked ninth overall, which researchers attributed to the fact it had the third highest rate of deaths from lung disease and the sixth highest from kidney conditions.
The high rate of lung disease was linked to increased rates of cigarette smoking in parts of the country and could also be from increasing rates of vaping, which is being linked to serious lung conditions.
Studies suggest being from a lower economic background also raises the risk for lung disease, which may be linked to worse indoor air quality and exposure to dangerous particles in certain professions such as construction and manufacturing.
A higher rate of kidney problems — medically termed nephrosis — was linked to higher rates of obesity in patients, which can cause diabetes that damages the kidneys — raising the risk they stop functioning. There is also evidence suggesting higher opioid use raises the risk of death from kidney disease.
The US did had lower mortality scores, however, for deaths from cancers — where it ranked 27th — and stroke — where it ranked 21st.
The UK out-ranked the US in every measure except cancer death rates — where it came in 19th overall.
The country with the lowest mortality rate score was Switzerland at 2.03. It was followed by Australia (2.57), Israel (2.7), Spain (2.75) and France (2.79).
Following up on their analysis, researchers then looked at the fatality rates from the same six diseases across all 50 states in the US based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).