New research reveals that death rate for all causes in the U.S. has dropped aided by reduction in fatalities from leading causes such as cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease.

In a new study published in the journal JAMA on Oct.27, Jiemin Ma, from the American Cancer Society, and colleagues looked at the U.S. national vital statistics data covering the years between 1969 and 2013 and found that during this period, the death rate for all causes dropped by 43 percent.

From about 1,259 deaths for every 100,000 people in the population in 1969, the death rate dropped to about 730 per 100,000 in 2013.

Of the six leading causes of death, five saw reduction in fatality rate during the study period. Stroke saw the highest decline in death rate with 77 percent reduction. Fatality rate for heart disease dropped by 88 percent; unintended injuries, 40 percent; cancer, 18 percent; and diabetes, 17 percent. Mortality rate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, doubled during the study period.

The researchers said that the reduction in death rates could be attributed to tobacco control, improvements in treating stroke, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, as well as measures to prevent and manage high blood pressure.

"The progress against heart disease and stroke is attributed to improvements in control of hypertension and hyperlipidemia, smoking cessation, and medical treatment," the researchers wrote in their study. "The reduction in cancer deaths since the early 1990s is also an outcome of tobacco control efforts, as well as advances in early detection and treatment."

Ma and colleagues, however, noted that the declining death rates have flattened in the last few years of the study period. Between 2010 and 2013, the average drop was only 0.4 percent per year, which is deemed statistically insignificant.

The researchers said that while death rates had also slowed in earlier periods, these were not as substantial as the most recent slowdown.

The researchers think that the delayed effect of the obesity epidemic, which has afflicted Americans since the 1980s could be to blame but some experts offered an alternative theory. Harvard economics professor David Cutler said that much of the significant gains from life-saving drugs such as statins may have already happened.

"At some point, everybody is taking a statin and you top out," Cutler said.

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