Alternative Names: Early death
Premature death is defined as dying before the average life expectancy for someone of our gender and race.
Death is an inevitable part of life, but dying before our time is highly preventable. It is estimated that around two-thirds of premature deaths are avoidable simply by reducing the risk factors. Despite this being "obvious" to most people, all too often we go through life thinking, "Those things only happen to other people. I feel fine!"
According to a September, 2015 report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, up to half of all premature deaths in the United States are due to behavioral and other preventable factors that include modifiable habits such as tobacco use, poor diet, and lack of exercise.
Why do smokers continue smoking? Why do heavy drinkers continue drinking? There are a variety of answers to this question.
Four main risk factors – poor diet, tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure – have been identified as the primary causes of premature death in the United States.
In medical terms, the leading causes of premature death are:
Over a third of people will develop cancer at some point in their life. Although there are over 200 different kinds of cancer, half of all cases involve lung, breast, prostate or bowel cancer.
Smoking, drinking, smoking, poor diet, chronic high blood pressure, and physical inactivity all pose serious risks to our long-term health.
Less obvious risk factors for early death include:
An unhealthy lifestyle is the root cause of many early death risk factors, including about a third of all cancers, with smoking, drinking, and poor diet being the chief culprits. Many studies have shown that behavioral changes such as quitting smoking, improving diet, and increasing physical activity significantly reduce risk of premature death.
Most cases of heart disease, and many cancers, are preventable. For example, regular exercise reduces your risk of heart attack by 30%; being overweight puts additional strain on your heart.
It is estimated that 5-10% of strokes could be prevented if the victims were aware of the symptoms and had sought emergency treatment. High blood pressure is the main cause of stroke, and yet many people with high blood pressure are not doing anything about it.
Liver disease is a silent killer – many patients have no idea that anything is wrong until they develop liver failure and it's too late. The main causes of liver disease are heavy drinking, obesity and viral hepatitis. Cutting down on drinking and losing weight are the best ways to reduce risk.
Regular check-ups and screening help to reduce our chances of developing diseases such as cancer or heart disease. It also help to catch these diseases at an early stage, where often they are still treatable.
Don't ignore symptoms. When symptoms arise, try to identify their cause – especially when they are symptoms of possibly serious conditions.
The fact that thinner people live longer is well-documented. When visiting old folks' homes, it will become apparent that most of the overweight residents have unfortunately passed on.
Your body is a highly complex, interconnected system. Instead of guessing at what might be wrong, let us help you discover what is really going on inside your body based on the many clues it is giving.
Our multiple symptom checker provides in-depth health analysis by The Analyst™ with full explanations, recommendations and (optionally) doctors available for case review and answering your specific questions.