Have you ever wondered what will kill you?

It's a morbid thought, but an intriguing new graphic reveals how the chance of dying from different causes changes at different stages of their life.

Using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA statistician Nathan Yau has plotted how cause of death varies across gender and race, based on mortality data from 2005 through to 2014.


Published on his Flowing Data website, the causes include death in young children, those due to infection, cancer, endocrine (hormonal) diseases such as diabetes and mental and behaviour disorders.


Diseases of the nervous system, such as epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are also charted along with circulatory system problems such as heart disease.

He also included respiratory diseases, digestive problems, diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, diseases of the genitourinary system, congenital defects, external causes and other diseases.

The graph shows that while less than 10 per cent of 20-year-olds die of cancer, it kills around 40 per cent of 50-year-old women and more than 30 per cent of men the same age.

Less than 20 per cent of men die from from congenital, genitourinary, respiratory, nervous and endocrine (hormonal) causes in their teenage years, only to rise to above 40 per cent by the time they are 60.

External causes - such as road traffic accidents - are the single most likely cause of death until people reach their mid 40s. But men are twice as likely to die of them than women throughout their lives - at 10 per cent overall compared to 5 per cent for women.

There were also notable differences between races. For example, while five per cent of black or African American people die from infectious and parasitic diseases, only two per cent of white people do.

Professor Yau has also created a test which reveals what you are most likely to die from once factors such as gender and race have been considered.

The test, which can be taken by clicking here, works by asking users to enter details including age, gender, and ethnicity before they can watch how their life and death may unfold.

It shows how the age you are today can affect what you are most likely to die of at various stages in your life.

So while a baby born today is most likely to die in the first few years of life from a congenital problem, a man who is 30 today who dies at the age of 80 is most likely to be killed by a circulatory problem - such as a heart attack or stroke - or by cancer.

Writing on his website, Professor Yau explains how the different dots relate to the various causes of death, listed right.

"Colour corresponds to cause of death, and the bars on the right keep track of the cumulative percentages. By the end, you're left with the chances that you will die of each cause," he writes.

By changing the age, the number of dots changes with a much lower mortality rate among children leading to fewer colourful circles.

For example, the leading causes of death in someone who is less than 12 months old are perinatal or congenital i.e. a condition inherited from birth.

However, this compares to circulatory problems, such as heart disease and stroke, being the most likely cause of death for both men and woman in their 50s.

The infographic, based on data from US death certificates between 1999 and 2014, shows how an-eight-year-old boy is most likely to be killed by an "external factor", such as an accident, if they die at the age 18.

The chart calculates this cause to be behind 67 per cent of deaths in these circumstances, compared to respiratory causes like asthma coming in at 17 per cent.

The older people get, the more likely they are to die from disease with anyone over the age of 80 having a 40 per cent or higher change of dying from a circulatory problem, regardless of the demographic.

"This surprised me, because it seems like cancer would be the leading cause just going off general news, said Professor Yau.

"This is certainly true up to a certain age, but get past that and your heart can only keep going for so long," he said.

Across the globe, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death, accounting for 31 per cent of the total figure, according to the American Heart Association.

Figures issued by the World Health Organisation for 2012 revealed that 68 per cent of all deaths globally were from what are known as noncommunicable - rather than infectious diseases.

The main four noncommunicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (such as heart disease and stroke), cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.

Infectious diseases, pregnancy and childbirth and nutrition conditions collectively were responsible for 23 per cent of global deaths, while injuries caused 9 per cent of all deaths
Deaths from often preventable causes - such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and lung conditions - were most common in high-income countries, where they accounted for 87 per cent.

Tobacco use is a major cause of many of the world's top killer diseases - including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease and lung cancer.

The World Health Organisation estimates that tobacco use is responsible for the death of about 1 in 10 adults worldwide. Smoking is often the hidden cause of the disease recorded as responsible for death.