For those of us who live in developed countries with running water, flush toilets, electricity, refrigeration, and modern transportation methods, the three leading causes of death for the past seventy-five years have been heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Recently, cancer has been declared the leading cause of death for people under eighty years old.
Infectious disease incidence and death rates from infections plummeted in developed countries soon after refrigeration, plumbing, and flush toilets were introduced. Dramatic increases in average life span in many developed nations also occurred as a result of the decline in deaths of women in labor and the decline in deaths from infant and early childhood deaths that came about with advances in sanitation, obstetrical, and perinatal medical care.
It is critical to note that heart attacks, stroke, and cancer are not causes of death. They are the terminal results of a disease process that began years earlier. The primary causes of these three deadly diseases are poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity.
A 1993 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association1 ranked the actual causes of death in the 1990s as follows: 1) tobacco, 2) poor diet and physical inactivity, and 3) alcohol consumption. Fast forward 15 years to the present, and we have even greater problems, with an explosion of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases of nutritional ignorance.
The problem we are seeing today is the occurrence of obesity and diabetes at an earlier age and in much greater proportions of our population. It forebodes an explosion in heart disease and cancer in upcoming years. This will likely be the first generation of children in modern history whose average life span will be significantly shorter compared with their parents. With the dramatic increase in soft drinks, cheese, convenience foods, and fast foods, the future health of America and our economic system could be severely compromised due in part to rapidly sky rocketing medical costs. Many American companies are already in financial difficulties and are being forced to move overseas secondary to rapidly escalating health-care costs.
Here's more on this topic:
- Why We Are Losing the War on Cancer: The Diet/Disease Link
- Why We Are Losing the War on Cancer: Failure of Treatment
- Why We Are Losing the War on Cancer: Cancer Rates to Soar
- Why We Are Losing the War on Cancer: New Approach Needed