"Diseases of affluence" such as heart disease and strokes are killing more people in the developing world than in richer countries, according to a report published Thursday.

Such diseases also kill more people in poorer countries than infections like malaria, said the report, summarized in an article for the Lancet medical journal.Dr. Christopher Murray of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and Alan Lopez of the World Health Organisation were commissioned by the World Bank to investigate the causes of death worldwide.

Their startling findings are that heart disease - mostly heart attacks - and strokes kill more people everywhere than anything else.

Measles and traffic accidents kill more people than war, and China has more than half of all female suicides in the world.

One surprising finding, they said, was that heart disease and stroke were such big causes of death in the developing world. Most people thought "diseases of affluence" caused by high-fat, high-sugar diets and lack of exercise would be restricted to "better-off" populations"

But in cancer deaths this was untrue. About 2.4 million of the 6 milllion cancer deaths were in industrialized countries and Eastern Europe.