Lifestyle cause most deaths

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Civilization Diseases: Unhealthy lifestyle accounts for 86 percent of all deaths.

The so-called lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases or chronic lung complaints are creating more and more problems for the social and health systems. The name can be misleading because often an interplay of genetic vulnerability, lifestyle and environmental influences ultimately leads to the disease. Almost two thirds of the 57 million deaths worldwide annually can be traced back to them. Experts have long been promoting efficient measures and campaigns to reduce the mortality rate.

If you want the social and health systems to remain financially viable in the long term, you must be able to "successfully curb the global, epidemic spread of non-communicable diseases," said Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG ). The EHFG is the leading health policy congress in the EU and takes place annually. It provides an important platform for decision makers in the field of public health. Three quarters of all diseases in Europe are attributable to these diseases and 86 percent of deaths are related to them. While there were 1.12 million cancer-related deaths in 2000, it is estimated to be 1.42 million in 2015.

According to forecasts by the EU Commission, 66 million people in Europe will have diabetes by 2030 if the disease is no longer and more efficiently counteracted.

Effective measures

There should be more work in three areas:
- Curb smoking
- Reduction of salt consumption
- Prevention of heart attacks and strokes in high-risk patients.

For McKee, a successful anti-tobacco strategy depends on a pricing policy including significant tax increases and strict smoking bans in public spaces. Restrictions on marketing, such as advertising on social media and films, must also be pushed forward.

The US cancer specialist David Levy from Georgetown University and his team determined how measures to cigarette consumption can impact: This will prevent around 7.4 million premature, tobacco-related deaths in 41 countries by 2050.

An increase in tobacco tax and smoking bans in offices and restaurants have the most positive effects. Preventing premature death is not the only positive effect: "There are fewer birth complications, less costs for health systems and fewer workplace failures due to comorbidities from smoking," says the cancer specialist.

Reducing salt consumption is another major challenge. "18 percent of global deaths are caused by high blood pressure, which is often related to excessive salt intake." A 15 percent reduction in salt over ten years could prevent 8.5 million deaths in the 23 countries alone, where 80 percent of all civilization diseases occur worldwide. "This is not just about appeals to health-conscious behavior by individuals. The main responsibility lies with the food industry, because most of the salt pollution comes from processed foods," said the professor of public health.

For McKee, the consistent treatment of people with a particularly high cardiovascular risk is the third future project that should be given increased attention. In the future, the accessibility of necessary medication that can prevent a heart attack or stroke should be made easier. The preparations should be easy to take. This should be done by combining several active ingredients in one tablet. To this end, governments must increasingly launch and promote measures such as prevention campaigns to curb alcohol abuse or the promotion of sporting activities and healthy eating. (fr)

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