In the last 50 years, human life expectancy has increased notably: exactly 14 years, from 58.4 to 72.5. For women it is now 75.3 and for men 69.8, according to a study released last week that sets out a global health outlook for 2016.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, female life expectancy stands at 78.9 years and that of men at 72.8 years. The study highlights the case of Peru, which with a female longevity of 81.6 and a male of 77.8 “recorded an increase above what would be expected given its level of development.
One of the most striking aspects of the report is that one in five deaths globally is directly associated with poor diet. In addition, contrary to what might be believed, cancer kills more now than it did a decade ago, according to the study coordinated by the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Assessment and Measurement (IHME) and published in the scientific journal The Lancet.
The region of Peru is marked as “exemplary.” This country, along with Portugal, Ethiopia, Nepal, Maldives and Niger represent reproducible cases and, as the study suggests, should provide “information on their successful health policies”.
The authors note that, in particular, deaths of children under 5 years of age totaled less than five million in 2016, compared to 16.4 million in 1970. Deaths from infectious diseases also declined, with the exception of dengue fever, with 37,800 cases a year 81.8% since 2006. AIDS deaths fell by 45.8% in that period, killing 1.03 million people in 2016, while tuberculosis claimed 1.21 million lives. people (-20.9%). Last year, there were about 55 million deaths and 129 million births, with a positive balance of 74 million additional people on the planet.
The study also lists disturbing data: 72% of deaths are due to noncommunicable diseases, mainly cardiovascular, except in poor countries where respiratory infections are the main cause.
Diabetes killed 1.43 million people last year, a 31% increase in a decade, and cancer, with nearly nine million deaths, was also 17% more deadly, with lung cancer being the most common. Tobacco alone accounts for 7.1 million deaths.
Poor nutrition, in particular, is poor in healthy foods such as cereals, fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish; or that which contains too much salt, is related to about 10 million deaths, 18.8% of the total. “Among all forms of malnutrition, poor eating habits represent the greatest risk factor for mortality,” the study said.
The study also emphasizes deaths from viral hepatitis, which killed 1.34 million people last year, 22% more than in 2000, according to the World Health Organization. “Hepatitis deaths can be prevented,” said Rachel Peck of the World Hepatitis Alliance, noting that one of the main problems is that only 5% of the people who suffer from this disease are aware of it.
More than one-sixth of the world’s population – roughly 1.1 billion people – also suffer from “mental disorders” or the consequences of abusing alcohol and drugs. Major depressive disorders are among the top 10 diseases in the vast majority of the 195 countries studied. For many, it is one of the most feared epidemics of the last time. The global population afflicted with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s totaled 2.6 million last year, also a jump of more than 40% in 10 years.
Deaths from conflict and terrorism – especially in the Middle East and North Africa – are regrettably a period mark and exceeded 150,000 in 2016, a 140% increase over 10 years earlier. “We are facing a triad of problems that affect many countries and communities: obesity, conflict and mental illness, including substance abuse disorders,” said Christopher Murrray, director of IHME.