Surprisingly, the diseases that affect and kill the highest amount of people are not always the diseases that we donate the most money to. Although ALS affects a small fraction of the population, an extraordinary amount of money has been raised to support research into the disease. For example, the Ice Bucket challenge has thus far raised $70 million and increased public awareness and media attention. Listed here are the five leading causes of death in 2011, contrasted with the 5 diseases that have been granted the most donation money within the past few years. There are a variety of ways to classify causes of death, including preventable factors like obesity and smoking, diseases, or accidents like car crashes. This list is comprised of which causes of death kill the most people in the USA, compared with which diseases receive the highest amount of public donations. As this list reveals, the diseases that aren’t as “popular” often receive fewer donations and media attention, even if they affect less of the population. However, it’s also important to note that many of the “bigger” diseases receive support without donations from the general public. For a variety of reasons, the diseases that kill us aren’t always the ones we choose to give our hard-earned money to.
5. Diseases that Received the Most Donation Money in 2014
5. HIV/AIDS $14 million
HIV was first discovered in the USA in 1981, and most likely originated in primates before being passed to humans. It is primarily passed through sexual activity. In the USA alone, roughly 7,600 people died from HIV/AIDS in 2011, but the problem is a global one: according to data from 2012, there are approximately 35 million people infected with HIV throughout the globe. To combat this frightening and deadly disease, in 2013, the Ride to End AIDS raised $14 million. Various charities have been attempting to raise awareness and funds to combat HIV/AIDS, and luckily, great strides have been made. However, there’s still a long way to go before HIV/AIDS is eradicated.
4. Heart Disease $54.1 million
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, but only the fourth most donated to disease. In 2013, Jump Rope for Heart raised $54.1 million to combat the disease. One reason behind the lower donations for this disease include the fact that it’s typically more government-funded than some lesser-known diseases that affect fewer people. Additionally, heart disease is largely preventable through basic lifestyle factors like healthy diet and moderate exercise, while some diseases like ALS are genetic or hereditary and thus, lack any preventative measures.
3. Motor Neuron Disease – $70 million
This is where ALS, a type of motor neuron disease that is arguably the current most visible disease, comes in – by August 24, donations to ALS had reached $70 million, despite the fact that this disease currently affects a maximum of 30,000 Americans. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up in the air – on one hand, any amount of donations to a cause that detrimentally affects thousands of people is a good thing, while on the other hand, the money donated to ALS could potentially be diverted from charities that need them as well. After all, thirty years of research into ALS haven’t improved the lot of those with ALS by all that much.
2. Prostate Cancer – $147 million
The phenomenon Movember, which aims to increase awareness of prostate cancer and donations towards eliminating it, has had an incredibly positive impact. Every November, men are encouraged to grow a mustache in support of this disease. Prostate cancer is a deadly type of cancer: it obviously only affects men, and is the fifth deadliest type of cancer for men. In 2012, 307,000 men globally died from this disease. In the USA, however, the five-year survival rate is 99%. Additionally, nearly 99% of cases affect men over 50, so young men are mostly safe from the disease.
1. Breast Cancer – $257.85 million
With Komen Race for the Cure at the forefront of raising awareness and money for breast cancer, this disease has become one of the most donated to charities: it’s apparent that the donations to Komen have surpassed number two on this list, by roughly $110 million. In 2012, Komen raised $257.85 million to support research into the disease – however, it’s argued that Komen spends more of their money on merchandise, than actually helping to fight breast cancer. Breast cancer is the third most common type of deadly cancer in the USA, and part of the reason this disease has gained so much support is probably because it most commonly affects those we care deeply about: mothers, daughters and wives.
5. Leading Causes of Death
Suicide is an action that stems from mental illness and, sadly, is the fifth most deadly disease for Americans. A variety of mental illnesses can contribute to causing suicide, including bipolar disorder, depression and drug abuse. Almost 40,000 Americans committed suicide in 2011, and thus ended their lives. Over half of these deaths are committed with firearms, while a quarter choose suffocation and approximately 6,000 choose poisoning. While completion rates are higher for men, women have a higher frequency of attempts. Luckily, awareness and understanding of mental illness and suicide have been increasing. Hopefully, one day, suicide will be a relic of the past.
4. Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is certainly a deadly disease, which is one of the reasons why it’s the most donated to diseases. Although breast cancer most commonly affects women, it does affect a small number of men as well; breast cancer is 100 times more commonly found in women than in men. Survival rates in the developed world are generally quite high, tending to range from 80% to 90%. However, breast cancer remains the third deadliest cancer for women within the USA, and is the most common type of cancer for women throughout the world.
Diabetes is one of the top killers in the USA, yet, it doesn’t even make the list of the top 5 charities that receive the most donations. Diabetes is characterized by excessively high blood sugars and often results in death. There are three types of diabetes: type I occurs as the body is unable produce adequate amounts of insulin, type II occurs chiefly through a lack of exercise and unhealthy body weight, and gestational diabetes afflicts pregnant women. Each type can be extremely deadly, and just over 8% of the world’s population is afflicted with some type of diabetes. Like the majority of America’s deadliest diseases, avoiding diabetes largely begins through proper diet and exercise.
2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease refers to an array of lung diseases that are characterized by difficulty breathing. Bronchitis and emphysema both play a role in COPD. The most common factor in this disease is tobacco usage, but other factors like air quality and genetics also come into play. In 2011, nearly 143,000 Americans died from this disease, earning it second place in the list of deadly diseases. Wordlwide, COPD has the rank of number three killer, as it has an effect on roughly 5% of the global population. However, it didn’t make the list for most-donated-to diseases.
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease covers an incredibly broad range of afflictions that are both hereditary and lifestyle-caused. Heart disease tops this list because it killed roughly 600,000 Americans in 2011, over four times as deadly as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Heart disease is far from being just an American problem – it’s the number one killer worldwide as well. Heart disease generally affects the older population, but young people can also begin developing symptoms and become victims to heart disease. Prevention is key to avoiding heart disease, but isn’t always enough to keep the illness at bay, as some people are genetically predisposed.
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