Dramatic Rise in Life Expectancy, Study


A new massive study discovered that although health problems are increasing, life expectancy demonstrates dramatic rise worldwide. Men now live 11 years longer and women 12 years longer than they were 40 years ago.

Deaths from malnutrition and infectious diseases have gone down in statistical data over the past two decades, which caused a shift in world’s mortality patterns. A larger part of the world’s population is now living into old age, and instead of measles and tuberculosis. Most deaths are now caused by cancer and heart diseases, generally associated with rich and developed countries.

Researchers from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington led the work on the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. It was launched at the Royal Society in London and published by the Lancet media journal on 13 December this year. The study is the largest global systematic effort to assess and define the distribution and causes of major diseases and health risk factors around the world. Experts evaluated data from more than 180 countries around the world, a total of more than 300 health institutions.

The results showed that fewer children are now dying every year from infectious diseases, maternal illnesses and malnutrition compared to numbers twenty years ago. Generally, good sanitation conditions, improved medical services, better access to food vaccinations worldwide took down the No.1 death risk factor in 1990 – malnutrition, to the current No.8. Infant mortality numbers fell by more than half from 1990 to 2010. More young and middle-aged adults, however, are suffering from cancer and heart diseases. Cancer deaths in 2010 have increased with 38% from 1990, or estimated 8 million people. People died from diabetes in 2010 were 1.3 million, or 50% more than those 20 years ago.

In 1990 deaths at age 70 and older were 33% of all deaths, and in 2010 they were 43%, which means that generally, people are living longer. Compared to most developing countries, where life expectancy proves to rise, the United States has stagnated. American women now live just a couple of years more than they did back in 1990. US women are now down to 36th position in the global ranking of life expectancy, compared to the 22nd position in 1990. The slightest progress of women in America can be explained with the increasing rates of obesity among them and the tobacco use. American man reported life expectancy gain by four years, from 71.7 in 1990 to 75.9 in 2010.

Sub-Saharan Africa reported different data – around 70% of death cases were caused by infectious diseases, maternal and childhood illnesses. Life expectancy of the region also showed slow improvement with almost 10 years for four decades, from 1970 to 2010. On the other hand, Latin America, Asia and North Africa reported a gain of more than 25 years.

High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor of death, globally, with 9.4 million deaths and 7% of disability rates. Smoking takes the second place with 6.3 million deaths, and alcohol is third with 5 million deaths worldwide. It is a serious problem in Latin America, especially and Eastern Europe where it is responsible for a quarter of all disease. Lack of physical activity and high levels of salt in the diet were responsible for 12.5 million deaths. Although AIDS has spread globally, and the cases increase in number each year, it still causes 1.5 million deaths.

We live longer, but we suffer more illnesses, and the biggest problems of the advanced age are mental illness, sight and hearing loss. Women in four countries, however, have a healthy life expectancy greater than 70 years – women in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Spain are obviously healthier. Only in Afghanistan, Mali and Jordan men live longer and in better health than women. The longest life expectancy for women is 86, in Japan; the longest lived men are in Iceland with life expectancy of 80 years.


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