Healthy lifestyle even more important to longevity than previously thought

May 8, 2014

Medical experts have long maintained that the leading causes of death in the United States – heart disease, cancer, lower respiratory illness, stroke, and unintentional injury – are not actually “causes of death.” Rather, it is the lifestyle choices that may lead to these conditions that are to blame. Now, the CDC has research to prove it.

In the first report of its kind, the CDC has calculated that up to 40% of deaths attributable to these five causes could be prevented. The analysis involves a comparison between the rates of death due to these five conditions in each state with those in the three states with the lowest rates. Indeed, the study’s findings indicate that where a person lives in large part determines their level of risk for these hardships. As CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden puts it, “when it comes to health in this country, your longevity and health are more determined by your zip code than by your genetic code.”

Of course, the silver lining to these findings is that disease prevention policies and programs in the states with the lowest death rates may serve as a model for those states with the highest rates. Frieden points to smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diet as the most obvious targets for behavior modification.

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