Heart ailments, infectious diseases and cancer remain the world's top three killers, the UN health agency said Monday.
Heart attacks and related problems are the top killer, claiming 29 percent of people who die each year, the World Health Organization said in a report on the global burden of disease. In second place, infectious diseases led to 16.2 percent of worldwide deaths.
Cancer, in third, claims 12.6 percent of global deaths, said the 146-page report, which is based on death registration data from 112 countries and estimates where reporting is incomplete.
The figures are from 2004, the most recent records available on a wide scale, officials from WHO said. But the rankings are unchanged since 1990 when WHO first did a global check.
Colin Mathers, WHO expert and lead author of the report, said he believed infectious diseases used to be the leading killer 20 to 40 years ago, but that he did not have statistics to back it up.