To celebrate an impressive 200 years in circulation, The New England Journal of Medicine has gone back through its vast archive to look at the incidence, meaning, and social nature of disease since 1812.
In particular, the image above charts the top 10 causes of death in the United States between 1900 and 2012. Head here for the interactive version.
It’s a fascinating way to understand the scope of human disease and visualise its evolving burden as we continue to struggle to develop suitable treatments and therapeutics.
Notably, one editorial comment published in 1912 suggested:
Perhaps in 1993, when all the preventable diseases have been eradicated, when the nature and cure of cancer have been discovered, and when eugenics has superseded evolution in the elimination of the unfit, our successors will look back at these pages with an even greater measure of superiority.
While we haven’t exactly reached the point of total eradication, several of the diseases described in the early 19th century, including death by cannonball, “spontaneous combustion of brandy drinking men and women”, and death by drinking cold water, are thankfully no longer a cause for concern.
Head to The New England Journal of Medicine to read more.