Researchers from several international centers combined efforts to determine the potential health gains of reducing risk factors for disease. They looked at 20 risk factors. Some of those include unsafe sex, alcohol use, unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene, indoor smoke, childhood sexual abuse, and vitamin deficiencies.
They found 47 percent of premature deaths and 39 percent of total diseases around the world in 2000 resulted from a combination of risk factors. Some of the health problems that resulted were diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and stroke. Researchers say removing the risks would increase life expectancy by an average of nine years, depending on the location, "The analysis showed that even populations with high life expectancy at present, such as developed regions of the western Pacific and western Europe, could benefit considerably from risk reduction."
Study investigators believe this information can lead people to make improvements in their health. They say, "The implementation of affordable and effective prevention strategy should incorporate the interaction of major risks to health."