New Internationalist

Living Can Seriously Damage Your Health

Issue 127

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HEALTH [image, unknown] Warning

[image, unknown]

WARNING
Living can seriously
damage your health

The overwhelming majority of disease is caused by dangers in our environment — many of them manmade. Anxiety and a sense of powerlessness often lower our resistance to those dangers. And with only ten per cent of illness affected by improvements in medical services alone, healthy living means changing the world we live in.

SMOKING
Causes at least 1 million premature deaths a year. Responsible for 37,000 lung cancer deaths and 9,500 heart disease deaths in UK and 33% of heart disease deaths in US.

Estimated increase in tobacco consumption between 1970 and 1980 was 4-13% in rich world but up to 33% in poor world.

 

WORK AND TRAFFIC HAZARDS

Traffic kills 250,000 each year

50 million work accidents kill 100,000 and maim millions every year

5% of deaths in rich world are due to accidental injury.

1 Million US workers are exposed to cancer-causing substances

65,000 US workers have asbestosis

1 in 10 UK coal miners have pneumoconiosis

1 in 4 Indian textile workers have byssinosis

 

INFECTIOUS AND PARASITIC DISEASES
Cause of about 40% of deaths in poor world and 2% of deaths in rich world.

1 in 6 people has malaria

1 in 3 has hookworm

1 in 20 has bilharzia.

Each year diarrhoea kills 5 million under-5s, tuberculosis kills 3 million people, pneumonia kills 2 million people.

 

STRESS
High stress doubles the chance of accident, mental breakdown and stomach ulcer.
For every 1% rise in US unemployment there is:

1.9% rise in cirrhosis and heart disease,

2-4% rise in mental breakdown, 4% rise in suicide. 10% of all prescriptions are for mood-changing drugs.

 

POLLUTION

Cancer causes 20% of deaths in rich world.

80% of cancers are due to chemical or environmental factors

25% of chemicals sprayed on food are carcinogens. Only 13% of 55,000 chemicals in use have been tested as carcinogens.

At least 10,000 die and 500,000 people are seriously poisoned each year by pesticides.

 

EATING AND DRINKING
Heart disease causes 50% of deaths in rich world. Among main causes are obesity and arteriosclerosis due largely to diet. UK diet contains 100% more sugar, 50% more fat, 90% less fibre than 100 years ago.

Alcohol causes 33-50% of fatal car accidents and up to 33% of accidents at work.

Cirrhosis is a major killer and up to 10% of people are alcoholics in some countries.

 

MALNUTRITION
40,000 under-5s die each year from malnutrition and infection.

1 in 4 people has an inadequate diet.

2 in 3 under-5s in the poor world are malnourished.


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