People live longer but are not always healthier: study



Mariette le Roux | AFP

Published — Friday 14 December 2012

Last update 14 December 2012 2:58 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

PARIS: People live more than a decade longer on average today than they did in 1970, but spend much of these boon years battling diseases like cancer, according to a global health review published Thursday.
By 2010, a man’s life expectancy at birth had risen 11.1 years from 1970 and that of a woman 12.1 years, said the bundle of seven studies published by The Lancet medical journal.
But as we live longer, bigger chunks of our lives are marred by illness, with non-infectious maladies like cancer and heart disease claiming ever more victims.
“Over the last 20 years, globally, we’ve added about five years to life expectancy, but only about four years to healthy life expectancy,” Josh Salomon from the Harvard School of Public Health, a study partner, told AFP by e-mail.
“You can think about it as adding the equivalent of four years of good health and one year of bad health.”
Contributors to the study appealed for a shift in health policy focus from simply keeping people alive to keeping them healthy as well.
“Health is about more than avoiding death,” said Alan Lopez and Theo Vos of the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health in a joint statement.
The magnum opus is the work of nearly 500 authors from 50 countries, consolidating data from academic research papers, autopsy reports, hospital records and censuses, covering 291 types of disease and injury in 187 countries.
With the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, it shows a clear shift in the disease burden from traditional culprits like malnutrition, infectious diseases and birth complications that generally mow down younger people, to cancer, heart disease and diabetes that can linger for years.
The growing burden of disability “implies additional health care needs and costs in terms of both social costs, financial costs and the demands on health care delivery system,” Salomon said.
The study said non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease accounted for nearly two out of every three deaths in 2010 — up from half in 1990.
Thirty-eight percent more people died of cancer in 2010 than in 1990 — eight million compared to 5.8 million.
The number of deaths from malnutrition and infectious, maternal and neonatal diseases declined from 15.9 million in 1990 to 13.2 million in 2010.
“The big issue here is the transformation from risks really related to poverty at the global level to risks that are more profoundly related to a series of non-communicable diseases and the way people live their lives,” study leader Christopher Murray of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation told a recorded press conference.
In 2010, high blood pressure (9.4 million deaths) and tobacco smoking (6.3 million deaths) posed the biggest risks to health worldwide, followed by alcohol (five million deaths), the study said.
An unhealthy diet and physical inactivity were collectively responsible for an estimated 12.5 million deaths.
The study noted a sharp rise in chronic disability from causes like mental disorders, substance abuse, diabetes and muscular-skeletal ailments.
“These diseases that cause chronic disability, they tend to be related to age, so as populations get older and premature mortality rates go down, you have more people living into the age groups where these are quite common,” said Murray.
“This is one of the broader transformations we see globally, particularly outside of sub-Saharan Africa.”
In that part of the world, life expectancy of men decreased by 1.3 years over the four decades from 1970 and that of women by 0.9 years — mainly due to HIV/AIDS.
In Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, deaths in the 15-49 age group rose by more than 500 percent from 1970.
“Belarus and Ukraine in eastern Europe also underwent notable declines in life expectancy, thought to be due to high rates of alcohol-related deaths in these countries,” a statement said.
Globally, though, the study showed deaths in children younger than five dropping by almost 60 percent from 16.4 million deaths in 1970 to 6.8 million in 2010.
Japanese women had the world’s highest life expectancy at 85.9 years, followed by Icelandic men at 80 years.
The impoverished island of Haiti had the lowest life expectancy (32.5 years for men and 43.6 for women), mainly due to the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed at least 250,000 people.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Saudi Traffic Department has denied that it is introducing new license plates for cars.It said hackers posted pictures of the supposedly new license plates on its Twitter account on Sunday. The department said the news, which went viral,...
JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: Unofficial marriage is a refuge for a divorced mother to lead a married life while keeping her children in her custody but without the knowledge of the former husband who could demand the custody of the children if he learned about the ex-wif...
JEDDAH: Makkah’s health department has set up a committee to verify the sick leave certificates of employees.The department stated it would apply government regulations on sick leave, which includes people providing the address of the facilities wher...
RIYADH: The directorate of roads and transport has registered 20 cases of violations worth SR24,500 in Al-Qassim, where the transport ministry continued its surveillance drive against the companies in the transport business.According to the directora...
RIYADH: The implementation of an integrated health plan to combat MERS has resulted in a sharp drop in cases, with only one out of 736 samples testing positive for the contagion in the Kingdom in the last six days. Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khal...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will begin next Tuesday to check whether companies are complying with new laws requiring them to place proper price labels on all their products.It is mandatory for companies to stop using phrases such as...
RIYADH: Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh Al-Asheikh chaired the first meeting with Yemeni scholars to exchange ideas on how to strengthen their role in restoring peace in their country.The first Saudi-Yemen scholars meeting, dubbed the “outreach sch...
RIYADH: To cope with the growing number of applicants (boys and girls) at technical colleges that reached 126,023 last year, a state-run organization launched an online unified portal to ease the enrolment procedures.According to the Technical and V...
RIYADH: A senior government official from Dhaka, who visited Riyadh last week, has sorted out technical issues to expedite issuing 1.5 million machine readable passports (MRP) to Bangladeshi expatriates in the Kingdom. Information and Communication T...
JEDDAH: Jeddah municipality is keen to provide health and food security to residents and visitors of the city, and they are continually conducting inspections of food stores, restaurants, markets and food storage facilities to avoid any violations by...
JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has been awarded a top international prize for his contribution to the propagation of the Qur’an.He was named the “Islamic Personality of the Year” by the Holy Qur’an International Memorization Or...
JEDDAH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier, minister of defense and chairman of the Economic Affairs and Development Council, held a meeting in Jeddah on Monday with Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, deputy national security advis...

Stay Connected

Facebook