Exploring 100 Ways Canadian Men Die Differently (and mostly faster) than Women

Last Updated: June 9, 2021

New research shows Canadians are living longer than ever. With an average life expectancy of 82.2 years, Canada now ranks 12th in the world.

Sadly for men, Canadian women live an average of 3.9 years longer. This means a life expectancy of 80.2 years for men, and 84.1 years for women.

Longer lifespans for women are one of the reasons that when it comes to the end of life, Canadian men and women often die of different causes. Recently, researchers at Opportunity Health mined 23 years of data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) to tease out exactly what these differences are.

How Canadian Men and Women Die Differently

Because women simply live longer, they are much more likely to die of diseases of old age, including stroke and Alzheimer’s.

In addition to lifespan, other major contributing factors to the difference in death rates include biology. For example, while men technically have breast tissue-and a handful of men die each year from breast cancer-this is predominantly a disease that afflicts women.

Lifestyle factors also contribute. Men are much more likely to die of suicide, road injuries, and lung cancers-all of which have a behavior based component.

Here are the top 100 causes of death, ranked in order for Canadian women (the list for men is slightly different.) Each column compares the relative difference between the sexes for each cause of death.

Cause of Death Women% Men% Difference
1. Ischemic heart disease 19.35 19.25 0.49%
2. Alzheimer disease and other dementias 12.10 9.39 28.90%
3. Stroke (Cerebrovascular disease) 7.87 4.94 59.23%
4. Tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer 6.49 8.89 -26.98%
5. Breast cancer 4.30 0.04 9788.84%
6. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 4.30 4.94 -13.15%
7. Colon and rectum cancer 3.61 3.91 -7.79%
8. Lower respiratory infections 3.48 2.88 20.94%
9. Diabetes mellitus 2.96 2.99 -1.18%
10. Chronic kidney disease 2.09 2.00 4.42%
11. Falls 2.08 1.63 27.55%
12. Pancreatic cancer 1.84 1.75 4.67%
13. Other cardiovascular and circulatory diseases 1.44 1.09 32.23%
14. Ovarian cancer 1.43 0.00
15. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 1.18 1.44 -17.89%
16. Atrial fibrillation and flutter 1.17 0.70 66.06%
17. Other neoplasms 1.13 1.06 5.93%
18. Stomach cancer 0.92 1.31 -29.96%
19. Leukemia 0.84 1.15 -27.46%
20. Self-harm 0.79 2.38 -66.82%
21. Endocrine, metabolic, blood, and immune disorders 0.77 0.77 0.48%
22. Aortic aneurysm 0.76 0.92 -17.38%
23. Urinary diseases and male infertility 0.76 0.48 59.51%
24. Road injuries 0.73 1.43 -48.92%
25. Interstitial lung disease and pulmonary sarcoidosis 0.72 0.96 -24.73%
26. Parkinson disease 0.70 0.96 -27.62%
27. Cirrhosis due to hepatitis C 0.65 0.84 -22.81%
28. Brain and nervous system cancer 0.61 0.86 -28.78%
29. Other digestive diseases 0.57 0.31 84.09%
30. Other neurological disorders 0.56 0.69 -18.82%
31. Uterine cancer 0.55 0.00
32. Vascular intestinal disorders 0.55 0.33 68.00%
33. Multiple myeloma 0.54 0.63 -14.02%
34. Paralytic ileus and intestinal obstruction 0.51 0.32 60.91%
35. Liver cancer 0.49 0.80 -38.46%
36. Hypertensive heart disease 0.47 0.27 77.36%
37. Cardiomyopathy and myocarditis 0.46 0.65 -28.16%
38. Cervical cancer 0.46 0.00
39. Diarrheal diseases 0.44 0.28 58.62%
40. Foreign body 0.44 0.43 2.54%
41. Bladder cancer 0.43 1.03 -58.05%
42. Kidney cancer 0.42 0.86 -50.79%
43. Gallbladder and biliary tract cancer 0.41 0.21 97.28%
44. Congenital anomalies 0.38 0.41 -6.24%
45. Other musculoskeletal disorders 0.36 0.17 108.64%
46. Peripheral vascular disease 0.36 0.27 32.99%
47. Cirrhosis due to alcohol use 0.35 0.82 -57.83%
48. Esophageal cancer 0.32 0.98 -67.81%
49. Malignant skin melanoma 0.30 0.49 -38.31%
50. Drug use disorders 0.30 0.59 -49.71%
51. Rheumatic heart disease 0.28 0.12 132.96%
52. Multiple sclerosis 0.26 0.16 65.83%
53. Gallbladder and biliary diseases 0.26 0.20 27.46%
54. Peptic ulcer disease 0.25 0.21 22.27%
55. Inflammatory bowel disease 0.23 0.13 82.67%
56. Iron-deficiency anemia 0.22 0.08 174.37%
57. Adverse effects of medical treatment 0.21 0.18 17.15%
58. Lip and oral cavity cancer 0.20 0.37 -46.36%
59. Rheumatoid arthritis 0.19 0.06 214.55%
60. Skin and subcutaneous diseases 0.18 0.12 50.30%
61. Asthma 0.16 0.07 132.42%
62. Pancreatitis 0.16 0.17 -2.35%
63. Alcohol use disorders 0.15 0.48 -69.30%
64. Preterm birth complications 0.14 0.19 -24.81%
65. Cirrhosis due to hepatitis B 0.14 0.11 25.71%
66. Endocarditis 0.13 0.14 -6.17%
67. Protein-energy malnutrition 0.12 0.10 17.88%
68. Fire, heat, and hot substances 0.12 0.15 -18.62%
69. Other infectious diseases 0.12 0.12 0.63%
70. Non-melanoma skin cancer 0.11 0.17 -36.32%
71. Epilepsy 0.11 0.12 -13.46%
72. Interpersonal violence 0.08 0.27 -70.23%
73. Thyroid cancer 0.08 0.06 40.90%
74. Neonatal encephalopathy due to birth asphyxia and trauma 0.07 0.08 -10.27%
75. Other neonatal disorders 0.07 0.09 -22.16%
76. Mesothelioma 0.07 0.30 -76.64%
77. Hemoglobinopathies and hemolytic anemias 0.07 0.06 12.56%
78. Inguinal, femoral, and abdominal hernia 0.07 0.06 18.64%
79. Larynx cancer 0.06 0.28 -76.94%
80. Other pharynx cancer 0.06 0.24 -72.72%
81. Cirrhosis due to other causes 0.06 0.06 8.40%
82. Drowning 0.05 0.23 -76.96%
83. Schizophrenia 0.05 0.03 57.83%
84. Tuberculosis 0.05 0.06 -11.97%
85. Hodgkin lymphoma 0.05 0.06 -22.27%
86. Exposure to mechanical forces 0.04 0.18 -75.84%
87. Meningitis 0.04 0.05 -4.51%
88. Sudden infant death syndrome 0.04 0.06 -27.59%
89. Poisonings 0.04 0.06 -26.85%
90. Other chronic respiratory diseases 0.04 0.05 -11.72%
91. Nasopharynx cancer 0.04 0.08 -48.51%
92. HIV/AIDS 0.04 0.19 -78.69%
93. Gastritis and duodenitis 0.03 0.03 10.91%
94. Hepatitis 0.03 0.05 -39.05%
95. Other transport injuries 0.03 0.19 -84.33%
96. Appendicitis 0.03 0.02 13.46%
97. Encephalitis 0.03 0.03 -9.63%
98. Other nutritional deficiencies 0.02 0.03 -5.10%
99. Neonatal sepsis and other neonatal infections 0.01 0.02 -31.54%
100. Other unintentional injuries 0.01 0.04 -61.48%

If you’re as fascinated as we are by these numbers, check out these charts showing more detail about how Canadians die differently.

The study will be run again next year to look for further changes.