We all want to live long and prosper, and this post will analyze how we might improve our chances. But first it is important to look at the fatal risks we actually face. We worry a lot about atomic radiation, and that may be real if there is an atomic war, but this year in the US there wasn’t a single death, at least in the general public directly attributed to radiation. However, there is a huge risk for cardiovascular death, but almost no mention of its relative risk in the media. Compare 113,073 cardiovascular deaths to 113,074 cardiovascular deaths including one radiation death, and ask which will get the most media coverage. Almost certainly the one radiation death even though it is insignificant and would be invisible in a data base of over one hundred thousand people. What we imbibe via the media is so distorted as to be viewed by a responsible, thinking person as far worse than worthless; it is intentional falsehood leading many people astray and thus degrading their lives and even killing some of them.
The data below is derived from World life expectancy.com. I can’t verify the accuracy of the data, but it appears to come from documented sources. It lists the 50 most common deaths in the US by age and cause. You should click on that list to see your personal risks. What this post will do is compare total lifetime risk to that of 75+ year-old persons to attempt to observe and compare unavoidable risks to avoidable ones, and then to comment on specifics for minimizing the death risk for each cause. These are obviously generalized suggestions, but they should be helpful. The data below is based on male data. Total number of living adolescents divided by total number of geriatrics gives a value of 3.06. So large deviations from that number should require an age related explanation. Perhaps the bolded-datas are indicators to watch to identify avoidable deaths in those two groups. Only a few numbers are greater for youths, notably traffic accidents, violence, suicide and poisonings and these have a component of countability.
1. Coronary heart disease: 210,050/113,073=1.86 – 24/134,917=.00018 (total deaths from this cause/deaths to those over 75 years old). (Avoidable deaths? age 15-24/75+ = X – Total population 22,144,841/7,230,170=3.06 ) – This is the greatest risk to your life, and most of these deaths are caused by large blood clots. These clots can form on the walls of veins and arteries bringing blood to the heart and when these clots peel off and go with the flow to the heart and they cause a blockage, which if they don’t clear out cause death of the heart tissue down stream. — Eat lower fat foods, get physically active at least once an hour and when symptoms appear such as chest and arm pain occur take two aspirin immediately and get to an emergency room quickly. If you are quick enough you may be back to your normal condition in a few hours; if not you could soon be dead or crippled.
2. Lung disease: 63,631/35,568=1.789 – 10/45,362=.00032 Probably smoking-related. — Quit smoking and avoid toxic inhalants especially asbestos.
3. Lung cancers: 87,738/34,047=2.58 – 8/30418=.00026 These were rare before smoking became common. — Quit smoking! (The cancers as a group are almost as common as cardiovascular problems, but this chart separates them into more specific diseases.)
4. Stroke: 52,072/31,819=1.64 – 85/59,841=.00142 Nine tenths of strokes are caused by clots. The symptoms are a sudden loss of vision or sensation or movement or some other normal bodily action. — The treatment is the same as for #1. If it’s the less common bleeding stroke expect loss of function. But it is impossible to tell if its a clot or bleeding without extensive tests, so if you can’t get to a hospital soon, the aspirin is your best bet. It’s a poor choice to be forced to make because aspirin will increase the bleeding if the stroke is caused by bleeding and make the injury worse.
5. Alzheimer’s: 23,900/21,697=1.10 – 0/52,362=.00000 Old-age-related mental decline. — There are some hopeful drugs for delaying symptoms. This is slow but steady, so enjoy life while you have the chance.
6. Prostate cancer: 28,088/19,601=1.43 – 0/19,601=.00000 — Get your exams and tests.
7. Influenza & pneumonia: 24,464/16,069=1.52 – 183/16,069=.011 — If you are old get flu shots, avoid people with colds and especially groups of sick children during flu season.
8. Kidney disease: 24,373/15,089=1.62 – 45/15,089=.001 — Avoid infections by caring for urinary tract infections immediately and never hold your urine when it’s time to pee, because it will back up into the kidneys and cause infections. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep the flow going smoothly and regularly.
9. Diabetes mellitus: 35,054/14,054=2.49 – 90/14,464=.006 — Especially when young stay active and eat properly with moderate sugar in your diet.
10. Hypertension: 27,661/12,250=2.26 – 58/12250=.005 — This is easily discovered with a routine blood pressure cuff, and usually it responds to treatment. However, if left untreated it can kill you.
11. Colon-rectum cancer: 26,970/11,180=2.41 – 29/11,180=.0026 — Get your exams. Eat less beef and more veggies, avoid charred foods and poop daily.
12. Parkinson disease: 12,088/10,138=1.12 – 1/10,138=.0001 ?
13. Lymphomas: 17,951/8,367=2.15 – 100/8,367=.012 ?
14. Inflammatory/heart: 17,410/7,831=2.22 – 240/7,813=.031 ?
15. Falls: 12,723/7,756=1.64 – 173/7,756=.022 — Set your living space up on one floor with plenty of hand grips, especially in the bathroom. Avoid climbing stairs, ladders or standing on folding chairs.
16. Pancreatic cancer: 17,870/6,728=2.66 – 4/6,728=.0006 ?
17. Bladder cancer: 10,042/6,179=1.63 – 2/6,179=.0003 ?
18. Leukemia: 12,977/6,041=2.15 – 259/6,041=.0423 ?
19. Endocrine disorders: 15,533/5,967=2.60 – 8/5,967=.0013 ?
20. Other neoplasms: 7,549/4,493=1.68 – 47/4,493=.0105 ?
27. Suicide: 29,077/2,552=11.4 – 3,595/2,552=1.409 — This is equally common at all ages and is helped with counsel and meaningful tasks. But this is the first number that jumps out as being a life threatening problem for youth which kills many of them. More kids with everything to live for, kill themselves than geriatrics who seem to have little to live for.
28. Liver disease: 19,760/2,256=8.76 – 20/2,256=.009 ?
29. Traffic accidents: 25,161/1,971=12.8 – 5,360/1,971=2.72 — This is a serious problem for young adults.— Avoid hitting things; avoid being hit; and leave plenty of time for doing what you are trying to do. In other words make a conscious effort to learn the habits of being careful. Pay attention to driving and don’t do stupid things just to impress your stupid friends.
35. Alcohol: 4,612/344=13.4 – 15/344=.0436 — The 12-step program works, so do it.
40. Poisonings: 20,572/281=73.0 – 2,329/281=8.288 — It is strange that old people have so few poisonings and middle-aged people so many. This demands careful research, because it seems totally unnecessary that adults should die from poison. Why are so many kids poisoned when the inattentiveness of old age would seem to kill more of them.
45. Violence: 13,113/196=67.0 – 4,205/196=21.45 This is a tragedy of young adults living in a poor social situation. — There are better places to live, so move there.
46. Drowning: 2,717/187=14.5 – 490/187=2.620 — There are many fun non-risky things to do and it is easy to avoid risky water activities.
50. Depression: 190/134=1.42 – 2/134=.015 — Life is meaningful when you have friends and meaningful things to do, so reach out and do something to help other people. They will appreciate it and you will feel better.
The total deaths divided by the deaths over age 75 was intended to highlight age-related deaths. There is some degree of control over these things, for example, #46 Violence is vastly greater with young adults than old ones, which obviously means it is a controlled and intentional action. Since most people do not get involved in those things it means those people who do could choose to move into communities where those things are rare. Since they choose not to move they are needlessly accepting the obvious risks. Wikipedia has a number of good multiply-linked articles on Life Expectancy. Basically take care of yourself, by eating well, exercising frequently, going for medical exams at reasonable intervals and avoiding needless risks. My earlier post on a similar subject: Transcend: Nine Steps to living well forever – review.
The take-away message is that you can improve your life expectancy with a few simple actions.