20 Most Dreaded Diseases in the World

According to The World Health Organization, there are officially more than 12,420 different, documented diseases in the world. Most of us, especially in this part of the world, have it narrowed down to just a few.

Despite all those dreaded diseases, there’s good news. Life expectancy rates have been on the rise for decades and big credit goes to researchers and pharmaceutical companies for the many pills, serums and other continually improving treatments that help us fight disease.

Also, credit must go to people being better educated about how lifestyle choices influence disease risk. Increased health awareness has been crucial to both increasing the average life expectancy and improving Americans’ quality of life.

That said, diseases are still out there. Here are 20 of the most dreaded diseases in the world today:


Cancer is the undisputedly the most dreaded disease in America. Although stats show that cancer is actually the No. 2 leading cause of death behind heart disease, it’s still the most dreaded disease. This is likely due to cancer directly or indirectly touching so many lives, constant publicity and news reports, and because of how quickly cancer can strike and the suffering it can cause.

While research and treatments have brought encouraging advancements for the treatment and survival rates of some cancers (like breast and skin cancer), treatment for many cancer types can involve painful surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy that can lead to unpleasant side effects. Some common cancers, like lung and pancreatic cancer, have low five-year survival rates.

Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia is a dreaded disease, but often misunderstood. It is NOT one single disease, but a general term to describe impaired memory, communication and thinking. Dementia risks increases with age but it is NOT a normal part of aging.

Alzheimer’s disease is probably the most commonly known, and most dreaded form of dementia. Recent censuses estimate 5 million Americans aged 65 years or older are living with Alzheimer’s, and that Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80 percent of all cases of dementia. It’s dreaded because it’s one of the most misunderstood and relatively untreatable forms of dementia. Plus, it taps into the common fear of unable to care for oneself, burdening others and losing memory about life and family.

Ocskay Bence / Shutterstock.com
Ocskay Bence / Shutterstock.com

Coronary Heart Disease

The numbers confirm that coronary artery disease is the deadliest disease in the world.  It happens when the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become narrowed. The risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, smoking, other lifestyle factors and family history. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year.

Kzenon / Shutterstock.com
Kzenon / Shutterstock.com
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