The effect of a reduction in leading causes of death: potential gains in life expectancy

S. P. Tsai, E. S. Lee, R. J. Hardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The potential gains in total expectation of life and in the working life ages among the United States population are examined when the 3 leading causes of death are totally or partially eliminated. The impressive gains theoretically achieved by total elimination do not hold up under the more realistic assumption of partial elimination or reduction. The number of years gained by a newborn child, with a 30% reduction in major cardiovascular diseases would be 1.98 years, for malignant neoplasms 0.71 years, and for motor vehicle accidents 0.21 years. Application of the same reduction of the working ages, 15 to 70 years, results in a gain, of 0.43, 0.26, and 0.14 years, respectively for the 3 leading causes of death. Even with a scientific break-through in combating these causes of death, it appears that future gains in life expectancies for the working ages will not be spectacular. The implication of the results in relation to the current debate on the national health care policy is noted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)966-971
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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