Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Who Dies First?

The average human is going backwards. In longevity, that is.

In 37 countries across the globe, lifespans have shortened in the past 20 years. This reverses a very long trend of lengthening lives for the average human being. It also coincides with the growth of national health plans in many countries.

AIDS, smoking and obesity are shoving us backwards--- mortality rates are steadily getting worse.

A new research study reported that Icelandic males have the lowest risk of premature death. Cypriot women have the lowest premature death rate for females.

And guess what? Wealth may not be a factor. The United States and Britain both scored relatively poorly, the survey found. Smoking and obesity are huge factors.

One data is constant--- men still die at twice the rate of women.

Dr. Christopher Murray, of the University of Washington in Seattle, (and his colleagues), reported these dismal and alarming findings in the Lancet medical journal.

They said, "Worldwide, the 1990s reversal in the trend in adult mortality is probably a result of the HIV pandemic, and the sharp rise in adult mortality in countries of the former Soviet Union."

But there were positives as well. And in unlikely places.

"One of the most striking patterns is the rapid decline in adult female mortality in south Asia; in 1970 this was the region with the highest risk of female mortality and by 2010, (the risk of dying before age 60) had fallen by 56 percent."

But startling reversals include the former Soviet Union. Russia plunged from 43rd place (for female mortality in 1970) to 121st. The USSR's socialized medicine system obviously was far more effective than the medical network in Russia today.

Mortality rates are all over the map, literally, much more than ever before.

The researchers said, "Across countries, inequality in adult mortality has grown to the point where adult men in Swaziland -- the country with the worst mortality rate -- now have a probability of premature death that is nine times the mortality rate of the best country, Cyprus."

The United States is facing a bleak future, and much of that fate is voluntary.

60 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. The USA fell in overall rankings, from 34th in the world in female mortality… and 41st in male mortality in 1990 to 49th for women… and 45th for men in 2010.

This puts the USA behind Chile, Tunisia, and Albania. This, despite an enormous dollar amount spent per capita on health in the USA. But mortality rates fell 50 percent over the same time in South Korea.

And children? The team had important findings.

"Every year, more than 7.7 million children die before their fifth birthday; however, over three times that number of adults -- nearly 24 million -- die under the age of 60 years."

NOTE: According to the United Nations, 8.8 million children (under the age of 5) died in 2008.

And the impact on health by national health care plans?

Let's look at the average yearly cost of health care in the Big Five---

United States: $6,000
Great Britain: $3,000
Australia: $3,000
Canada: $3,000
France: $3,000

And longevity in years in those same Five---

United States: 79+
Great Britain: 80+
Australia: 80+
Canada: 80+
France: 80+

Lower cost means more years of life? How can this be?

The numbers suggest you CAN buy better health for less money. And that national plans can be a great health-plus factor, at low cost.

More, though, it is the obesity, the smoking, the infections, that kill so many prematurely. And no health plan can stop people from destroying themselves.

But adults make choices. And many of those choices begin as influences in childhood, reaching far into the life of the adult.

It is the children who must be protected from all the stupidities of the adult world--- the careless self-destruction that creates deadly habit patterns, and early death.

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