Guest Author - Dr. Denise Howard
Have you ever asked yourself this question? Most people choose not to think about their death unless it is imminent. Of course, we all have to die from something. Most of us hope and pray that it will be painless and later, much later. However, giving some thought to this question could potentially save your life, earlier.
The most common cause of death in men and women is heart disease. The second most common cause is cancer. Combined, these 2 diseases resulted in more than 1 million deaths in 2010. The 3rd most common cause resulted in 138,000 deaths. This answers the question. You are most likely to die from heart disease or cancer.
Cancer is a large category but even when this is subdivided, it is easy to see which cancers are the culprits. The most common cancers in women are breast, lung, colorectal, human papilloma virus associated (which include cervical), uterine, skin and ovarian. The top cancer deaths in women are from the lung, colorectum, and breast.
The risk factors for heart disease are well defined and information on prevention and management is widely available. Advances in medical science have resulted in a wealth of information about the causes of many of the most common cancers as well as information on prevention. The causes of heart disease and cancer are many but a good proportion of cases result from bad habits such as smoking or other unhealthy choices. In addition, we have the ability to detect many of these cancers at an early stage where treatment can prevent death.
The keys to prevention and early detection are within everyone’s reach. Don’t smoke or stop if you do smoke. Drink alcohol in moderation. Lead a healthy life style. This includes regular exercise, proper nutrition, and the avoidance of overeating. Finally, see your doctor on a regular basis and undergo the recommended screening test. Mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, blood test for diabetes and lipid levels can result in the early detection of a problem, allowing time for treatment.
The good news is that most people in developed countries have a long life expectancy. In the U.S. the life expectancy is 78.7 years and for women it is 81 years. For certain ethnic groups the values are lower but have continued to improve every generation. No one can live forever, but most of us want to live a healthy and long life. The key to this is prevention. Knowing the common causes of death can help you assess your risks and give you an opportunity to develop a mitigation strategy. You have the power to decrease your chance of an untimely death. Take advantage of the available tools and information so you can live a long and healthy life.
I hope this article has provided you with information that will help you make wise choices, so you may:
Live healthy, live well and live long!