cause of death

There are three basic facts about death: (1) We all have to die. (2) All young deaths are tragic deaths. (3) Some of us die in ways that are more interesting than others, and those deaths often make their way into case reports. This story involves all three.

The CDC reports that a 29-year-old man in Wisconsin, along with 13 cattle, died from manure gas. Three more cattle were euthanized. The gas emanated from a manure basin that covered 60,400 square feet and was 15 feet deep. Because it was nearly full, the total volume of manure was 906,000 cubic feet (about 6.8 million gallons). The young man was mixing the manure prior to having it spread on fields as fertilizer.

His death was originally ruled as suffocation from methane. Methane, which is odorless and non-toxic,...

Your risk of death from a car crash, suicide, or homicide is different depending on the day of the week. That's the latest finding from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC calculated that, on the average day, 103 Americans die in car accidents, 121 from suicide, and 49 from homicide. But that's the average day. As it turns out, people die differently on Monday than they do on Saturday. (See chart.)

On every day of the week except Saturday and Sunday, people were most likely to die from suicide. The highest number of suicides occurred on Monday, which makes intuitive sense, since Mondays suck. The average number of suicides...

Watching an autopsy has a way of changing one's view on death. Every single one of us – rich, poor, white, black, male, female, religious, atheist – will one day be on a cold metallic cart with a tag on our toe. And the medical examiner will open us up, poke around, extract and weigh a few organs, then ship your lifeless corpse on to the funeral home.

So, the question isn't if we are going to die, but when and how. Science has little to say about the former, but it has collected quite a bit of data on the latter. That's what makes the CDC's weekly report on the dead and dying so morbidly fascinating.

This week, the CDC listed the top 10 causes of death for Americans based on sex. The top 10 causes of death are not the same for men and women. (...

Finally, some worthwhile data.  

In our current culture —especially in the medical sphere, acquiring data for data’s sake has become its own illness whose insidious contagion serves further to fracture and fragment our health care delivery.  

Though I don’t routinely find good news in the topic of death, being the skeptical optimist that I am enables me to see the potential in a new study published in JAMA detailing the mortality rates for major causes of death from 1980-2014.  

Why the cheer?  Because the report is documenting United States county-level trends.  Recognize it is a tempered one, but cheer nonetheless.  Until we start to recognize that policy decisions and implementation...