Alcohol and smoking cause 36 million deaths worldwide

   «Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide,» said Douglas Bettcher, one of the leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the last report about death causes in the world.

    According to the document, these diseases cause 36 million deaths per year, or 63% of all deaths worldwide. Of these 36 million people, nine million did not reach the age of 60.

    The main factors contributing to these deaths are alcohol, lack of exercise, poor diet and smoking, so Bettcher said. The deaths occur primarily in developed countries, but are also increasing in poor countries.

    Noncommunicable diseases caused specifically 91% of deaths, as reflected in that report.

    Of these deaths, 33% were due to cardiovascular disease, 27%to cancer, 9% to respiratory diseases, 5% to perinatal conditions, 3% to diabetes, 4% to accidents and the remaining 19% to other non-communicable diseases, according to this report, which covers all 193 WHO member countries.

    Leanne Riley, head of WHO’s Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, said that the predominance of these diseases, which are the leading cause of death in the world, is due to changes in lifestyle.

    Regarding physical activity, the report notes that 52.1% of the population does not perform any physical activity, a percentage that is higher among women (56.3%) than among men (47.7%).

    More alarming are the figures about overweight, which affects 62% of the population, reaching 67% among men and 56% among women.

    In Latin America, 69% of deaths are due to non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, although the percentage changes were significant depending of the economic and health development of each country. The ranking is: Uruguay (87%), Cuba (84%), Chile (83%), Costa Rica (81% ), Argentina (80%), Mexico (78%), Brazil (74%), Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay (69%), Dominican Republic (68%), El Salvador (67%), Colombia and Venezuela ( 66%), Ecuador (65%), Peru (60%), Bolivia and Guatemala (57%).

    In view of these data, it can be concluded that the best prevention against these diseases is a healthy lifestyle, including physical exercise, a balanced diet and family socializing, instead of watching television.

   Clemente Ferrer

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