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Press Release

Press Release # 120-06
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

(212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Andrew Tucker (; Sara Markt (


Colon Cancer Deaths Among People Under 65 Down 20% from 2004; Nearly 900 Fewer Smoking-Related Deaths in 2005 than in 2001; Despite Continued Improvements, Significant Racial Health Disparities Persist; Diabetes Deaths Continue to Rise; City Birth Rate at 25-Year Low

NEW YORK CITY – December 20, 2006 – The life expectancy of New Yorkers increased nearly 5 months in one year, the Health Department announced today as it released its latest Annual Summary of Vital Statistics. Life expectancy reached 78.6 years for a New Yorker born in 2004. This is 9.6 months more than the City's life expectancy in 2001 and 8.4 months more than the 2004 national life expectancy (77.9). On average, women live more than 5 years longer than men.

***Update: The Centers for Disease Control released final national life expectancy data for 2004. Life expectancy for a New Yorker born in 2004 (78.6 years) is 9.6 months longer than the 2004 national life expectancy of 77.8 years.***

Highlights of 2005 Vital Statistics Data
  • • Colon cancer deaths among adults aged 50-64 decreased by 18% since 2004.
  • • Females born in 2004 have a life expectancy of 81.1 years, 5.7 years longer than a male's life expectancy (75.7 years).
  • • While large disparities in death rates persist across racial/ethnic groups, the disparities have narrowed considerably since 1990.
  • • The average age of a mother giving birth has increased almost 2 years to 28.9 in 2005 compared to 27.4 in 1990, when the City's birth rate was at its most recent peak.
  • • Percent of teen mothers that are Hispanic increased from 43% in 1989 to 55% in 2005.
There were 57,068 deaths in 2005 – the lowest number of deaths recorded in more than 100 years. Heart disease, cancer and influenza/pneumonia remained the leading causes of death in 2005 despite modest declines in each. There was an 8% decline in deaths from stroke. In contrast, diabetes deaths increased 5% from 2004; diabetes deaths have risen nearly 20% over the past decade. The Summary is online at:

The number of New Yorkers who died before age 65 decreased slightly from 17,359 in 2004 to 17,232 in 2005. The top three leading causes of death for people under 65 did not change in 2005: cancer, heart disease and HIV. Colon cancer deaths among people under age 65 dropped 20%, from 443 in 2004 to 353 in 2005.

This year, the Health Department conducted a new analysis on smoking related deaths, which have been decreasing steadily. Smoking attributable deaths decreased from 8,960 in 2001? to 8,096 in 2005 (10%). Most of that decline was due to the impact of reduced smoking on heart disease deaths. Smoking-attributable deaths also include cancer of the trachea, lung and bronchus and chronic airway obstruction; these causes of death take longer to decline after people stop smoking.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said, "New Yorkers are living longer than ever. An additional 300,000 New Yorkers now have a regular doctor and are increasingly getting the screenings they need – including a 30% increase in colonoscopy – compared with just a couple of years ago. There are nearly 200,000 fewer New Yorkers smoking. But too many New Yorkers are still dying tragic deaths at early ages from preventable causes. Quitting smoking, making sure your blood pressure and cholesterol are under control, getting a flu shot every year, getting a colonoscopy and other cancer screenings, getting tested for HIV, and living free of dependence on drugs and alcohol are critical to the continued reduction of preventable illness and death in New York City."

Leading Causes of Deaths in New York City, 2005
  All Ages – 57,068 Deaths Under 65 – 17,232 Deaths
Rank Cause (Rank in ‘04) Deaths Cause (Rank in ‘04) Deaths
1 Heart Disease (1) 22,619 Cancer* (1) 4,652
2 Cancer (2) 13,366 Heart Disease (2) 3,487
3 Influenza/Pneumonia (3) 2,921 HIV (3) 1,352
4 Diabetes (5) 1,813 Psychoactive Substances** (4) 883
5 Stroke (4) 1,647 Accidents (6) 628

*Top cancer killers of people under age 65 are: 1. Lung (961 deaths) 2. Breast (577 deaths) 3. Colon (353 deaths), 80-90% of lung cancer is due to tobacco. Tobacco use also increases the risk of breast and colon cancer.

**Includes long term use of or acute poisoning by psychoactive substances

While the death rate among black New Yorkers remains significantly higher than among other racial/ethnic groups, the disparity has narrowed steadily between 1990 and 2005. In 2005, black New Yorkers had a death rate 23% higher than white New Yorkers, compared to nearly 40% higher in 1990. The death rate among men remains significantly higher than among women (9.4 vs. 6.2 per 1,000). The death rate for black and Hispanic men (11.9 and 9.8, respectively) remained higher than that of white (8.5) and Asian men (7.3). Similar trends were seen among women, with black and Hispanic women at (7.9 and 6.0, respectively) having higher death rates than white (5.7) and Asian women (4.9).

Heart disease and cancer persisted as the leading causes of death among all New Yorkers. Nearly 40% (22,619) of all deaths in 2005 were caused by heart disease. Cancer is the leading cause of death for people under 65. Many deaths from 3 major cancers - colon, breast, and cervical - can be prevented if people at risk get screened. Overall colon cancer deaths decreased from 1,495 in 2004 to 1,427 in 2005, decreases in colon cancer deaths among people age 50-64 were even more striking. The 50-64 year old age group – which is recommended for routine screening – has seen an 18% decline in colon cancer deaths in the past year. Similar decreases occurred among black and white New Yorkers.

Diabetes was the fourth leading cause of death in 2005. The number of diabetes deaths has increased nearly 20% in the past decade and has been closely following the obesity epidemic in New York City and nationally. Currently, one out of five New Yorkers is obese.

In 2005, 1,419 people died from HIV/AIDS, a decrease of 2% from 2004 and an 80% drop since HIV/AIDS deaths peaked in 1994, when there were 7,102 deaths. HIV remains the third leading cause of death among people under 65.

Dr. Frieden said, "As part of our Take Care New York policy, we set an ambitious target of reducing AIDS deaths in New York City to fewer than 1,000 per year by 2008 – about a 40% drop from 2002. Over the past year, we saw barely a 2% decline in deaths. If this trend continues, we won't reach our target of fewer than 1,000 deaths a year until 2018. We must do more to stop the AIDS epidemic in New York City."

Information on Births in New York City, 2005

The birth rate also reached a 25-year low in 2005, at 15.1 per 1,000 women. Reflecting national trends, the citywide birth rate declined almost 8% in the past decade, almost entirely due to a fall in the number of teen births. The number of total births decreased from 124,099 in 2004 to 122,725 in 2005, including 123 fewer teen births. While birth rates declined or remained stable in most community districts, increases were noted in a few neighborhoods, such as in Lower Manhattan and Borough Park in Brooklyn.

Rate of Live Births to Teenagers by Race, Borough of Residence

Since 1996, the number of live births to teens has decreased by 34%, from 13,020 to 8,579 in 2005, mirroring national trends. The New York City teen birth rate is 33.1 live births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19. However, rates vary by race/ethnicity and borough. In 2005, teen birth rates were 55.6 among Hispanics, 37.3 among blacks, 11.2 among whites, and 8.6 among Asians. By borough, teen birth rates were 48.4 in the Bronx, 31.4 in Brooklyn, 30.2 in Manhattan, 25.5 in Queens, and 22.4 in Staten Island. As in previous years, teen birth rates were higher among Hispanics and blacks, and highest in the Bronx compared to other boroughs.

The percent of teen mothers who are Hispanic increased from 43% in 1989 to 55% in 2005. This is partially attributed to the increase in the proportion of Hispanic teen mothers of non-Puerto Rican descent, which more than doubled from 15% in 1989 to 37% in 2005, while the percent of teen mothers of Puerto Rican descent decreased from 27% in 1989 to 18% in 2005.

Other Highlights of 2005 Vital Statistics Summary

  • Alzheimer's disease deaths increasing. Alzheimer's disease is now the 9th leading cause of death among New Yorkers 85 and older, up from the 10th leading cause of death in 2004.
  • Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) down slightly from 2004 to 2005. People who die before 75 can be thought of as dying prematurely. The number of years between 75 and the age of the person who dies before that is called the Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL). In 2005, causes of death that rank highest for YPLL are cancer, accounting for 119,980 years of potential life lost, followed by heart disease and HIV disease. For all causes of death, YPLLs decreased by about 1%.
  • Infant mortality rate (IMR) down slightly. As previously announced, deaths of infants under one year old decreased from 6.1 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 6.0 in 2005. Last year's infant death toll was the lowest in New York City history. However, significant racial and ethnic disparities persist. New York City's IMR is lower than the national rate of 6.8, according to preliminary 2004 national data.
  • Notable changes in causes of death. Deaths in 2005 from extreme heat (6) and cold (16) increased from 2004 heat (1) and cold (9) deaths. Fatal injuries in the workplace decreased to 88 in 2005, the lowest number that has been recorded since this statistic was first reported in 1996, when there were 148 recorded workplace deaths. While deaths increased from accidents (11%) and overdose (6%), these numbers have fluctuated in recent years.

The Summary is the Health Department's annual report of births, deaths, and other vital events in New York City, which is compiled by the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Health statistics are provided according to ethnic group, gender, age, health center district, community district and borough of residence. Deaths rates are age-adjusted where noted, which allows comparisons between rates to be made over time or between geographic areas. Reports for 1996 through 2005 are available online at Searchable vital statistics data will be available online in early 2007.

Printed copies will be available in early 2007. For more information on New York City Vital Statistics, please visit To learn how to obtain a birth or death certificate, visit or call 3-1-1. For information about the City's progress to a healthier New York, visit for the City's most recent Take Care New York progress report. Additionally, for more information about your community's health, visit


Important Links:
Download the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics