The Top 12 PREVENTABLE Causes of Death

fat smoker1 The Top 12 PREVENTABLE Causes of Death

According to a new study by Harvard public health researchers, the leading preventable risk factors for premature death in the United States are:

  1. Smoking: 467,000 deaths.
  2. High blood pressure: 395,000 deaths.
  3. Overweight-obesity: 216,000 deaths.
  4. Inadequate physical activity and inactivity: 191,000 deaths.
  5. High blood sugar: 190,000 deaths.
  6. High LDL cholesterol: 113,000 deaths.
  7. High dietary salt: 102,000 deaths.
  8. Low dietary omega-3 fatty acids (seafood): 84,000 deaths.
  9. High dietary trans fatty acids: 82,000 deaths.
  10. Alcohol use: 64,000 deaths.
  11. Low intake of fruits and vegetables: 58,000 deaths.
  12. Low dietary poly-unsaturated fatty acids: 15,000 deaths.

bad habits causing death both sexes The Top 12 PREVENTABLE Causes of Death

This study is the most comprehensive look at how diet, lifestyle and various other chronic disease risk factors contribute to mortality in the U.S.

And it produced some interesting observations:

  • Smoking is responsible for approximately 20% of all deaths in the U.S.
  • High blood pressure is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths
  • Obesity + physical inactivity = 407,000 deaths per year ≈ 17% of all deaths
  • High blood pressure kills 5x as many women as breast cancer
  • 70% of the alcohol related deaths happened to men…way to go guys
  • High blood sugar killed 3x as many people as alcohol
  • 2/3 of the deaths attributed to high blood sugar, obesity and high blood pressure occurred in only 10-33% of the overall population.
  • 1,051,000 deaths can be attributed to poor dietary choices. That’s 45% of all deaths.

Maybe you should print this out, stick it to your fridge and you might just avoid the Top 12 PREVENTABLE Causes of Death .

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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.


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  4. Luther

    March 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    So, who’s dying from not enough PUFAs?

    • healthhabits

      March 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Do you want their names?

  5. Anne @ lifestyler treadmill

    March 20, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Your post is highly informative. Now, those people with the following vices and unhealthy lifestyle might change their habits if they want to stay healthy and prolonged their lives. So, eat healthy and exercise daily!

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  7. sangita

    March 8, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Wow just drifted here by chance – putting this up on my office noticeboard.

  8. Greg

    May 7, 2009 at 10:04 am

    If the few people I know who still smoke were to die today, one could also slot them into virtually every other category in the above list. It must have been difficult to attribute what vice was the chief contributer to the demise of the individuals in the study…

  9. Steve Parker, M.D.

    May 6, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Interesting that the list did NOT include high saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Yet more evidence that the Diet-Heart Hypothesis may be fading away.


  10. charliedw

    May 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Very good article, but where did you get the photo of my sister from . . . . .