According to a 2009 study published in the journal, PloS Medicine, and led by Harvard School of Public Health, the top three causes of premature death in the United States (in order) are smoking, high blood pressure and excess weight.
When new statistics are published (generally every 5 to 10 years), it may be discovered that obesity ranks at number one, being that it officially became the most expensive source of medical costs in the nation – ringing in at $190 billion annually.
Smoking. If you don’t know the multiple harmful effects of smoking by now, you must be living under a rock. The CDC’s latest ad campaign makes certain you know all the potential disease and debilitation that accompanies this bad habit. Smoking may lead to heart disease, cancer, stroke, blood clots, low libido, impotence and so much more.
Quitting smoking is easier said than done, but nothing declines your health and your appearance faster than puffing on cigarettes. Tobacco stains your teeth, causes brittle hair and dry skin, initiates premature wrinkling and weakens your senses – particularly taste and smell. There is one cure and one cure only for this cause of death – STOP SMOKING!
High blood pressure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the first indicator of the potential to develop many adverse health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. The 2009 study found that women accounted for the largest percentage of deaths due to high blood pressure – killing more than breast cancer.
Many people who have high blood pressure do not even realize it. It can easily develop into heart disease – the silent killer. Keep an eye on your blood pressure – many fitness clubs have blood pressure cuffs, as well as your doctor’s office. Managing your weight, monitoring your sodium and fat intake, participating in routine physical activity and managing stress are imperative to keeping blood pressure within normal ranges.
Overweight/obesity. It should come as no surprise that excessive weight gain is among the top causes of premature death in the nation. With 65 percent of the population overweight or obese, chronic diseases afflict more and more people every day. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and so much more can attributed to unhealthy weight management. Make it a top priority to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Avoid processed foods, fast-foods and “junk” foods loaded with sugar and fat. Choose lean, whole foods with a variety of nutrients to support your health.
Be and stay active! Physical activity does not have to mean hours inside four walls of steel and concrete at an overpriced gym or running mile after mile on a treadmill or across your neighborhood – these are simply options –dancing, rollerblading, playing with your kids, joining a Yoga class, trying Pilates or riding a bike count as exercise too (and that’s only a very short list of options.) Choose something that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your life, grab a friend to make it more fun and share health!
Get some sleep. Without high quality and quantity of sleep, your metabolism slows to a crawl. Lack of sleep can also increase storage of deadly visceral fat around your organs and contributes to increased secretion of cortisol which lowers immunity and increases fat storage in the abdomen. As you may have previously read, a new study revealed poor sleep habits increase genetic influences associated with weight gain and obesity.
Not all diseases and conditions are in your control, but these top three causes of premature death are very much within your control. Strive to care for your health before it is too late – that’s what the preventive health lifestyle is all about. It’s cliché, but today is the first day of the rest of your life – strive for a high quality life by making healthy choices every day.