Cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, and diabetes are the four main groups of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). They’re also a main cause of preventable, premature deaths.
New research shows that over 15 years 37 million premature deaths due to NCDs can be prevented. How? By reducing or curbing only six modifiable risk factors: tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, salt intake, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity. As in, if you keep up your bad habits, chances are you won’t live as long. If you drop them, and get healthier, you’ll likely live longer, and our guess is your quality of life will improve too.
How, exactly would changing these 6 factors improve your life expectancy and reduce your risk of premature death?
Tobacco Use – Kick the habit to reduce risk of death by at least 30 percent, and up to 50 percent
- Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death, and is responsible for 5 million deaths per year worldwide.
- By reducing tobacco use by 50 percent, risk of dying from the four main NCDs would drop by 24 percent in men and 20 percent in women.
Alcohol Use – Sticking to one or two drinks a day could reduce risk of death by 10 percent
- Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million deaths per year.
- Alcohol is the world’s third largest risk factor for disease burden.
Salt Intake – Curbing your salt habit could reduce your risk or early death 30 percent
- Too much salt intake increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
- The CDC recommends consuming no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
High Blood Pressure – Taking steps to reduce your blood pressure could reduce your risk of premature death by 24 percent
- High blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths worldwide.
- In 2008, the overall prevalence of high blood pressure in adults 25 and older was around 40 percent.
Diabetes/Obesity – Stopping growth in diabetes and obesity rates would result in a large reduction in early death rates
- 347 million people worldwide have diabetes.
- More than 80 percent of diabetes deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries.
- Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980.
- 65 percent of the world’s populations live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
Researchers believe meeting these levels would reduce the risk of premature death by 22 percent in men and 19 percent in women by 2025.
Professor Majid Ezzati, PhD, from Imperial College London headed up the study, and feels reducing the risk factors could have an immense positive impact on the world’s overall health.
“Most of the benefits will be seen in low-income and middle-income countries where as many as 31 million deaths could be prevented,” he said.
The study is the first to examine what reducing globally targeted risk factors would do to help meet the United Nations’ call to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25 percent relative to 2010 levels by the year 2025.