During the decade between 1999 and 2008, most of the widespread causes of death among Israelis declined. These includes stroke, which dropped by a third, heart disease declined 29 percent in men and 23% in women, and lower-respiratory tract diseases, which were about 30%, were also lower in 2008.While cardiovascular disease killed 18% of those who died in 2008 compared to 22.3% in 1999, cancer was most recently responsible for about one-third of deaths compared to 23.1% a decade before. This is not surprising, as people in general live longer, and cancer typically sets in at later ages.The Health Ministry’s latest report on the leading causes of death in Israel was released for publication on Wednesday.Death from complications of diabetes dropped by 10%, while those from kidney disease were reduced somewhat in recent years after an increase in the late 1990s. Mortality from influenza and pneumonia increased by 20% during the decade.A major hike – 35% in men and 47% in women – was reported of deaths from Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of progressive dementia. Among men, accidents are the third, diabetes, fourth and stroke the fifth most common cause, while in women, diabetes is third, cardiovascular diseases, fourth and accidents, fifth.The annual death rate in Israel is lower compared to the average rate in Europe and the US – 533.4 per 100,000 residents here compared to 642 in the US, 635 in Belgium and 549 in Norway. Israel’s mortality rate is similar to Sweden, where it is 533.1. The lowest rate is in Italy, at 511.6.Among babies and children up to age four, deaths connected to birth followed by congenital defects are the most common causes of death, while accidents are the leading cause of death in boys and young men aged 5 to 24. Cancer is the most common cause of mortality among girls aged five to 14 and second or third among boys.Half of the deaths among both men and women aged 25 to 64 were due to cancer. Heart disease has dropped from being the leading cause in middle aged men and women, and is now the second most common cause – a fourth of men and fifth among women.Between 65 and 74, cancer is the leading cause of death in both sexes, and it is also the main cause among men over 75, while heart disease remains first among women of that age group.