JAMA study finds half of current US deaths have preventable causes

March 11, 2004
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JAMA study finds half of current U.S. deaths have preventable causes



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Research finds drug free reduction of heart disease risk factors possible with TLC

Life Extension Update Exclusive

JAMA study finds half of current U.S. deaths have preventable causes
The March 10 2004 Journal of the American Medical Association reported that approximately half of all deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to preventable behaviors and exposures, such as tobacco use, and poor diet and physical inactivity.

Working from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in Atlanta, Ali H Mokdad, PhD, and colleagues sought to identify and quantify the leading causes of death in the United States by searching medline for studies that linked risk behaviors and mortality. Using CDC mortality data to identify the causes and number of deaths for the year 2000, heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease emerged as the major killers.

The researchers estimated that 18.1 percent of all deaths were attributable to smoking in the year 2000, including deaths caused by secondhand smoke. This was followed by poor diet and inadequate physical activity as a preventable cause of death with an 16.6 of all fatalities due to being overweight. Alcohol consumption came in third with an estimated 3.5 percent of all deaths attributed to its use. Additional preventable causes of death were infectious agents, toxic agents, motor vehicle accidents, firearms incidents, sexual behaviors and illicit drug use.

The authors predict, "The rapid increase in the prevalence of overweight means that this proportion is likely to increase substantially in the next few years. The burden of chronic diseases is compounded by the aging effects of the baby boomer generation and the concomitant increased cost of illness at a time when health care spending continues to outstrip growth in the gross domestic product of the United States. Our findings indicate that interventions to prevent and increase cessation of smoking, improve diet, and increase physical activity must become much higher priorities in the public health and health care systems." (Mokdad AH et al, “Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000,” JAMA vol 291 no 10.)

In an accompanying editorial, J. Michael McGinnis, MD and William H. Foege, MD, note that more attention has been given to end diagnoses than the root causes of mortality. They recommend a refocus of attention and direction of resources to these root causes.


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What's Hot

Research finds drug free reduction of heart disease risk factors possible with TLC
A presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 53rd Scientific Sessions of the findings of a multicenter prospective study revealed that elevations in blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol—known risk factors for cardiovascular disease—can be controlled without drugs in many patients in a matter of months by the adoption of therapeutic lifestyles changes, or TLC. The study enrolled 2,390 patients who received 12 weeks of TLC, consisting of nutritional counseling, exercise training and other lifestyle interventions. Sixty-four percent of the participants experienced a reduction in systolic blood pressure to less than 140 mmHg, while the same percentage of diabetics and chronic renal disease patients met a lower goal of 130 mmHg. For diastolic blood pressure the goal was less than 90 mmHg and less than 80 mmHg for diabetics and kidney patients, which was met by 67 percent of the subjects. The goal of a fasting blood sugar level of less than 126 milligrams per deciliter was achieved by 37 percent of diabetics, and an equal number of nondiabetics met the goal of a fasting glucose level of under 110 mg/ dL . Twenty-three percent of the subjects met their LDL cholesterol goal.

If you have questions or comments concerning this issue or past issues of Life Extension Update, send them to or call 954 766 8433 extension 7716.

For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
954 766 8433 extension 7716
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