Factbox: Tobacco, alcohol, fat have huge health impact

Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:02am EDT

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(Reuters) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report on Wednesday on chronic, or non-communicable diseases -- which include diabetes, cancer and respiratory and heart diseases.

A large percentage of NCDs could be prevented by reductions in their four main behavioral risk factors -- tobacco use, physical inactivity, alcohol and unhealthy diets, the WHO said.

Here are some details about those risk factors and the toll they exact on human health:

TOBACCO

Almost 6 million people die from tobacco use each year, both from direct tobacco use and second-hand smoke. By 2020, this number will increase to 7.5 million, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths.

Smoking is estimated to cause about 71 percent of lung cancer, 42 percent of chronic respiratory disease and nearly 10 percent of cardiovascular disease.

EXERCISE

Approximately 3.2 million people die each year due to insufficient physical activity. People who do not take enough exercise have a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of dying prematurely.

Regular exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, and of diabetes, breast and colon cancer and depression. Insufficient physical activity is highest in high-income countries, but very high levels are now also seen in some middle-income countries specially among women.

ALCOHOL

Around 2.5 million die each year from the harmful use of alcohol, accounting for about 3.8 percent of all deaths in the world. More than half of these deaths occur from NCDs including cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis. While adult per capita consumption is highest in high-income countries, it is also high in populous upper-middle-income countries.

POOR DIET/OBESITY

At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Risks of heart disease, strokes and diabetes increase steadily with increasing body mass index (BMI). Raised BMI also increases the risk of certain cancers.

Eating healthy amounts of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk for heart disease, and stomach and colorectal cancer.

Most populations consume much higher levels of salt than recommended by WHO; high salt consumption is a key risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease.

High consumption of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids is also linked to heart disease. SOURCE: WHO global status report on non-communicable diseases (Compiled by Kate Kelland)

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