What will you die of?

It’s a grim speculation, but as they saying goes, numbers don’t lie. But hopefully they can motivate us to change

It’s a grim speculation, but as they saying goes, numbers don’t lie. But hopefully they can motivate us to change our lifestyle.

Researchers at The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center have developed updated charts outlining death risk by age, sex and smoking status. (No surprise: smoking will rob you of five to 10 years, according to their data. Click here for quitting tips.)

The authors argue that “to make sense of the disease risks they face, people need basic facts about the magnitude of a particular risk and how one risk compares with other risks.”

For example, of 40-year-old non-smoking women, two of 1,000 will die from accidents, two of 1,000 will die from breast cancer, and one of 1,000 will die of heart disease, colon cancer and HIV each respectively. After 60, heart disease becomes the number-one killer. While the figures are American, they’re in keeping with Canadian stats.

As a 38-year-old, that tells me I should avoid risky behaviours, such as speeding, practise safe sex, exercise and eat plenty of fibre and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. While the fitness and nutrition aspect is hardly new, I hadn’t given as much thought to accident prevention and sexually transmitted diseases.

Did you know, for example, that the number of positive HIV test reports are up over five years ago for people aged 30 and up, for instance?

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