Jan 18, 2012 2:46 AM GMT
ATLANTA — For the first time in almost half a century, homicide has fallen off the list of the nation's top 15 causes of death, bumped by a lung illness that often develops in elderly people who have choked on their food.
The 2010 list, released by the government Wednesday, reflects at least two major trends: Murders are down, and deaths from certain diseases are on the rise as the population ages, health authorities said.
Homicide was overtaken at No. 15 by pneumonitis, seen mainly in people 75 and older. It happens when food or vomit goes down the windpipe and causes deadly damage to the lungs.