Study reveals dramatic rise in life expectancy around world

Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 00:00

Life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically, by 11 years for men and 12 years for women over the past four decades, but we are paying the price in more mental and physical health problems, according to the biggest study yet of the global burden of disease.

A massive international research project, which took five years and involved 500 authors, has produced the most comprehensive and ambitious database of the world’s health yet attempted.

It shows dramatic changes since 1970, with the rapid decline in deaths from infectious diseases and malnutrition and the vastly improved survival of small children.

Most deaths in the world are now from heart disease and stroke, which killed an estimated 12.9 million people in 2010, a quarter of the global total.

High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for death today – responsible for 9.4 million deaths and 7 per cent of disability – followed by smoking, which caused 6.3 million deaths. Alcohol comes third, responsible for five million deaths worldwide, but it is a massive issue in eastern Europe, where it causes almost a quarter of all disease.

Physical inactivity and diet – particularly those with high levels of sodium or salt and low levels of fruit consumption – were responsible for 12.5 million deaths. – (Guardian service)