Lifestyle Changes Could Save Millions

Additional 2% decrease in chronic disease deaths adds up to 36 million lives saved worldwide over next decade, experts say

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TUESDAY, Oct. 4, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- More than 36 million lives could be saved worldwide by 2015 if the number of deaths from chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease are cut by an additional 2 percent each year, say four papers published online Wednesday in The Lancet.

The papers' authors say the 2 percent annual decrease in deaths from chronic diseases should be set as a international goal. The target is based on successes in several countries that have already implemented programs to prevent chronic diseases.

Publication of the four papers coincides with the release of a World Health Organization report on chronic diseases around the world.

According to one of the papers, about 58 million people will die in 2005 worldwide, with 35 million of those deaths due to chronic diseases. By 2015, those figures will increase to 64 million and 41 million, respectively.

Reducing the number of deaths caused by chronic disease by 2 percent a year would result in about 36 million fewer deaths between 2005 and 2015. Of those prevented deaths, 28 million would occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The paper noted that the knowledge to prevent a large proportion of chronic deaths is already here. Research indicates that at least 80 percent of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and 40 percent of cancer could be prevented through healthy diet, regular physical activity and tobacco abstinence.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has more about chronic disease prevention.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Oct. 4, 2005


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