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HELENA (AP) - Heart disease and cancer continued to be the leading causes of death in Montana during 2002, robbing Montanans of an estimated 22,000 years of life, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The report, released Thursday, said heart disease and cancer each accounted for about 22 percent of the 8,473 deaths in the state that year. In 1992, those causes were similarly dominant, with heart disease blamed for almost 27 percent of deaths and cancer cited in 24 percent.

Cerebrovascular disease, usually stroke, was the No. 3 cause of death in 2002, responsible for 7.5 percent. Chronic lower respiratory disease, such as emphysema, accounted for about 7 percent; accidents, 6 percent; Alzheimer's disease, 3.4 percent; pneumonia and influenza, 3 percent; diabetes, 2.5 percent; suicide, 2 percent; and chronic liver disease, 1.5 percent.

The 175-page annual report called "Vital Statistics" provides a broad look at the lifestyle and health of state residents, using assorted measures such as birth rates, death rates, marriages and divorces.

As a means of gauging the toll that premature, preventable and unnecessary death takes in the state, the report assesses the "premature years of life lost" for people who die before age 75. The younger the age at which death occurs, the more years of life lost.

The tool, also used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adjusts for the fact that many deaths occur among more elderly residents.

The report said the average cancer victim less than 75 years old died at age 61 1/2, losing about 13 1/2 years of life. The same was true for those dying of heart disease.

Murders took away an average of 42 years, vehicle crashes denied the average victim 38 years of life and AIDS cut the average life short by 29 years, the report said. At the opposite extreme was Alzheimer's, which usually occurs among older people, took away an average of 7 1/2 years.

Accidents were the leading killer of Montanans for 33 of their first 34 years of life. They were particularly deadly for those between 5 and 24, when they accounted for about 58 percent of all deaths.

Accidents were the second most-common cause of death among American Indians, blamed in nearly 18 percent of the cases. Cancer was the No. 1 killer of Indians at 19 percent.

Montana had 182 suicides in 2002, the seventh leading cause of death among Indians and the ninth cause among whites. About half of all suicides were committed by men aged 25 to 54.

Other findings in the report:

_The marriage and divorce rates remained unchanged from 2001 to 2002. The state had 6,514 weddings, or 7.2 for every 1,000 residents, and 3,634 divorces, or four for every 1,000 residents.

_Two-thirds of all brides and grooms wed in 2002 were married for the first time.

_June, the traditional month for weddings, was not the most popular month for reciting vows. August accounted for the most marriages, or 1,117. July was second with 982 and June was third with 950. The least popular month was January, with 239 marriages.

_The number of lung cancer cases in 2002 dropped to 484, the lowest in at least a decade and a nearly 30 percent decline from the number reported in 2000.

_Breast cancer cases dipped to 609, also the lowest level in at least 10 years and almost 25 percent below two years earlier.

_The 790 prostate cancer cases reflect a slight increase over the previous four-year average of 774 cases.

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