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Different reasons can prevent us from living a long life. Below are listed the main causes of death in the developed world. Next to the reason there is a percentage indicating part of a total share:

30% Heart diseases,
25% Cancer,
6% Stroke,
5% Accidents (mainly driving),
5% Chronic lower respiratory diseases (lung problems),
3% Diabetes mellitus,
2% Influenza and pneumonia,
23% Other.
In connection with the reasons listed above, major health risks were concluded by the World Health Organization research to be the following (from the most to the least important):
Tobacco use,
High blood pressure,
Overweight and obesity,
Physical inactivity,
High blood glucose,
High cholesterol,
Low fruit and vegetable intake,
Urban outdoor air pollution,
Alcohol use,
Occupational risks,
Depression (suicide),
Unsafe driving (driving accidents).

Most deaths are linked to cardiovascular diseases. If we sum up heart diseases and stroke, we get 36%. Prevention from cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke) is achieved by not smoking, paying attention to your blood pressure (minimal intake of salt, adding potassium, exercise, eating vegetables that lower high blood pressure etc.), weight, obesity and physical activity. Protection from cancer includes eating a lot of fruit and vegetables, exercising and going to regular medical specialist examinations. Eating at least 25 grams of fiber a day lowers the risk for colon cancer (large intestine cancer) – faster excretion of body waste and less harmful substances are therefore absorbed into the body – regular examinations and extraction of a polyp that may develop into intestine cancer (colonoscopy), breast examinations etc. Diabetes can be prevented by consuming small amounts of sugar and eating healthy food. And lung diseases are prevented by not smoking, which includes avoiding passive smoking.


Heart diseases

Blockages or narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the heart are the most common causes of heart disease, and the main factor in heart attacks. Coronary heart disease, in which arteries serving the heart become narrow and hardened, is the leading cause of heart attacks.A woman’s risk of heart disease increases after menopause. A man's risk of heart disease rises significantly after the age of 45.

Nearly 33% of deaths due to CVD occur well before the average life expectancy.

What you can do to prevent it?
There are definitely things you can do to lower your chances of having a heart attack, including: Don’t smoke, and if you do, try to quit. is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Maintain a healthy weight.

Monitor cholesterol levels and keep them within a healthy range. Eat food that’s good for your heart: A plant-based plan like the Mediterranean diet that includes fruits and vegetables and whole grains that are high in fiber and low in saturated and trans fats, as well as fish, legumes and nuts. Get more exercise, especially aerobic exercise that elevates your heart rate. Aim for 30 minutes, 5 times per week. Find ways to reduce stress.

Stress and Cholesterol

During stress, primitive instincts prepare the body for flight or fight. As a protection mechanism, the body triggers the generation of two hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, from the hypothalamus, a gland near the brain. These hormones increase blood flow to the brain and act as stimuli to release more energy.

These two hormones produced by the hypothalamus also trigger the production of cholesterol. Cortisol produces more sugar in order to provide the body with instant energy to tackle the stressful situation. The high sugar levels, however, often are not used up by the body and eventually are converted to fatty acids and cholesterol. Stress also can push people toward unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles: smoking, drinking and eating a diet that contributes to high cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol lead to heart disease.


Prostate cancer

Since cancer is the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells in a certain area of the body, prostate cancer is simply the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells in the prostate.

Some men have BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). This is often confused with prostate cancer. With BPH, prostate cells multiply faster than they should. This causes the prostate to enlarge and the patient to develop difficulty urinating. With prostate cancer, the cells not only multiply faster, but also behave abnormally by spreading outside of the prostate if not caught in time. BPH is not cancer, but can show some of the same symptoms.

The prostate is made up of many different types of cells. The gland cells (those cells that actually work to produce the fluid that is released into the semen) however, are nearly always the cells that become cancerous. The technical medical term for cancer that arises from gland cells is adenocarcinoma. Thus, the technical term for prostate cancer is prostate (or prostatic) adenocarcinoma.

Early detection, prompt diagnosis, and effective treatment are the mainstays of good prostate cancer care.


Skin cancer (Malignant Melanoma)

Most people are aware that melanoma is a skin cancer that can spread earlier and more quickly than the other skin cancers. Our awareness in the public and in the medical community is increasing about how the sun causes skin damage. There are great sites on the internet with an incredible amount of information about all aspects of melanoma. In this article, I will narrow down that information and answer a few basic questions.

What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a cancer in melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, in the skin. There are other types of skin cancer that don't spread, but melanoma is the type that can spread to other areas of the body, or metastasize. It most frequently appears on the trunk in men and on the legs in women, but it can occur anywhere on the body.

Significance of Melanoma
Melanoma is the eighth most common cancer in the United States and causes 1-2% of all cancer deaths. The incidence of melanoma has been increasing faster than any other cancer over the past 20 years. The way to decrease your chance of developing melanoma is to recognize if you are at risk and take measures to decrease that risk or be more vigilant.

Melanoma Risk Factors
The following are risk factors from the highest to lowest risk. Also, the more risk factors you have, the higher your chances are of getting melanoma.

  • A mole that is changing
  • Atypical nevus syndrome
  • Having a mole that is >15cm in diameter and has been present since birth
  • White race
  • A prior skin cancer
  • A close family member with melanoma
  • Using a tanning bed ten times a year or more before age 30
  • More than 50 moles on your body
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • The tendency to burn and freckle instead of tan

Preventing Melanoma
The best prevention is to recognize any risk factors you may have and take steps to prevent sun damage. Use a sunscreen that has at least an SPF of 15 anytime you go out in the sun. If you have several risk factors you should probably use a sunscreen all the time with an SPF of 30. There are several moisturizers you can buy that already have sunscreen added to them.

Recognizing Suspicious Moles
The common rule of thumb is to apply the ABCD's. - Asymmetry - Draw a line through the middle of the mole. If the halves don't match, the mole is asymmetric and more likely to be abnormal.
- Border - The borders of atypical moles are not well defined or can look scalloped with notches between the scallops.
- Color - An uneven color throughout the mole is more likely a sign of abnormality. This is especially true if all the other moles on your body are a uniform color. On the other hand, some people normally have moles that have different colors in them. The colors red, white, and blue may be patriotic, but they also are signs of abnormality.
- Diameter - Most melanomas spread horizontally before they start to spread vertically. Therefore look for moles that are enlarging in diameter greater than 6 mm or 1/4 inch. This is about the size of a pencil eraser.

Melanoma Treatment
If you are concerned about a mole, you should ask your provider about it. Treatment of melanoma starts with excision of the lesion also taking at least a 1 cm border of healthy tissue around it. The stage of the cancer is determined by how many millimeters thick the cancerous tissue is. To make sure the cancer hasn't spread to other areas of the body, a chest x-ray is taken and a lab test checking the liver is also done. Depending on several factors, sometimes lymph nodes in the area are removed and examined to see if they contain cancerous cells. If the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, the best treatment is to remove the cancerous tissue if possible. Sometimes, chemotherapy is used along with removal. Radiation therapy is generally not helpful. Finally, there are controversial treatments involving interferon and vaccines.


Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in one or both lungs; usually in the cells that line the air passages. The abnormal cells do not develop into healthy lung tissue, they divide rapidly and form tumors. As tumors become larger and more numerous, they undermine the lung’s ability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen. Tumors that remain in one place and do not appear to spread are known as “benign tumors”. Malignant tumors, the more dangerous ones, spread to other parts of the body either through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Metastasis refers to cancer spreading beyond its site of origin to other parts of the body. When cancer spreads it is much harder to treat successfully.

Carcinogens are a class of substances that are directly responsible for damaging DNA, promoting or aiding cancer. Tobacco, asbestos, arsenic, radiation such as gamma and x-rays, the sun, and compounds in car exhaust fumes are all examples of carcinogens. When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens, free radicals are formed that try to steal electrons from other molecules in the body. These free radicals damage cells and affect their ability to function and divide normally.

About 87% of lung cancers are related to smoking and inhaling the carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Even exposure to second-hand smoke can damage cells so that cancer forms. Cancer can be also the result of a genetic predisposition that is inherited from family members.

What you can do to prevent it?
- Don’t smoke, and if you already do, take steps to quit.
- Avoid secondhand smoke.
- Steer clear of other airborne pollutants, including dust and chemical fumes.



If you have diabetes, your body has trouble using glucose from your food as fuel. Type 1 diabetes, which involves the body's immune system attacking the cells that make insulin, cannot be prevented. Much more common is Type 2 diabetes, in which glucose builds up in your blood instead of being used as energy. Many men do not know they have diabetes until they experience symptoms, like vision loss and erectile dysfunction. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, or at least delayed.

What you can do to prevent it:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you have a family history of diabetes, talk to your doctor about screening.
- Eat a healthy plant-based diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish, while avoiding added sugars, fats and salt.
- Low GI food is a must!


Alzheimer's Disease

A progressive and irreversible disease that gradually destroys brain function and memory, Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. It is the fifth leading cause of death in older women. What causes Alzheimer's is not fully understood but it is likely a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

What you can do to prevent it:You cannot control your genetics, but you can do other things that may reduce your risk:
- Eat a nutritious diet. Research is ongoing into the connection between stroke, diabetes, obesity and decline in brain function.
- Keep physically active.
- Maintain social interaction.
- Keep your brain engaged.



Depression: It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of health conditions that affect women or men, but, in fact, it is one of the leading reasons women seek out medical help. While it's not known for sure, higher rates of depression in women than men may be linked to biological and social differences.
True depression is more than just the occasional "blues" that most people encounter now and then. Clinical depression affects the whole person -- mind, body, personal life, work life.
It is not known precisely why or how depression develops, but most researchers think it's due to an alteration in brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters.

When Hormones Affect Mood
In addition to clinical depression, women also can have significant mood swings in relation to hormonal fluctuations. Between three and five percent of women experience menstrual-related depression and anxiety so severe that it is classified as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) -- a severely debilitating disorder that requires treatment.
Women also may develop depression after giving birth (postpartum depression), or after experiencing infertility, miscarriage, and surgical menopause.

Some Risk Factors for Depression in Women
The more children a woman has the greater her chance of depression. Women who have been victims of rape or domestic violence are at increased risk of major depressive illness and should seek counseling as soon as possible. Other risk factors:

  • Oral contraceptives -- particularly those with high progesterone content.
  • History of physical/sexual abuse in childhood.
  • Infertility treatments involving the use of gonadotropin stimulants.
  • Stress.
  • Loss or threat of loss of social support system.
  • Death of a parent before the age of 10.
  • Family history of mood disorders.
  • Personal history of mood disorders, particularly during the early reproductive years.
  • Some Symptoms of Depression?
  • Depressed or irritable mood.
  • Reduction of interest or pleasure in activities.
  • Loss of interest in sex.
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
  • Recurrent suicidal thoughts.
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much (insomnia or hypersomia).
  • Changes in appetite including weight loss or weight gain.
  • Difficulty concentrating or maintaining attention.
  • Lack of energy or constant fatigue.
  • Other psychomotor disturbances.

Risk of Suicide
Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide as a result of depression, however men are more successful in their suicidal attempts than women. Seventy percent of suicide attempts by women are by overdose or similar methods, while men more often choose a more violent method, such as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
All suicide threats should be taken seriously -- contact a mental health worker or medical professional immediately if someone you know makes such a threat.

Treatments for Depression?
The good news is that depression is treatable. However, only one-third of depressed people ever seek treatment, leaving millions of Americans with untreated depression.
Treatment should involve a medical assessment for factors that may be contributing to a woman's mood, such as birth control, hormone replacement therapy and thyroid disease.
Treatments include talk therapy, medications such as antidepressant medications, and in severe cases electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Some of the most popular antidepressants include Prozac, Celexa, and Paxil.
Women may metabolize antidepressants differently than men. There may need to be adjustments to avoid or manage side effects.
The length of treatment varies among patients. As a general rule, if this is the first time you are being treated for depression, you may need to take the antidepressant for 6 months to a year. If you have recurrences of depression, you will likely have to be maintained on medication for more extended periods.
There are some alternative treatments for depression, but discuss all alternative or "natural" treatments with your doctor, as they can interact with other medications and carry their own medical risks.
If you or someone you know feels depressed for more than two weeks, seek help from your physician or a mental health professional.

Major Depression In Adults Primary Care. National Guideline Clearinghouse.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a malignant (cancerous) growth that begins in the tissues of the breast. Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it can also appear in men. In the U.S., it affects one in eight women.

The most common types of breast cancer are:
- ductal carcinoma (85 - 90% of all cases)
- lobular carcinoma (8% of all cases)
- Invasive (Infiltrating) Breast Cancer
- Invasive, or infiltrating, breast cancer has the potential to spread out of the original tumor site and invade other parts of your breast and body. There are several types and subtypes of invasive breast cancer.

Less common are:
- inflammatory breast cancer (occurs in the skin)
- Paget's disease of the nipple
- Symptoms of Breast Cancer:
- a lump or a thickening in the breast or in the armpit
- a change of size or shape of the mature breast
- nipple fluid (not milk) leaking
- a change of size or shape of the nipple
- a change of color or texture of the nipple or the areola, or of the skin of the breast itself (dimples, puckers, rash)

If You Have Breast Pain
Early stages of breast cancer may not cause any pain or discomfort. Having a regular mammogram (recommend an annual screening mammogram beginning at the age of 40) and a clinical breast exam by your health professional can help you understand changes in your breasts. Doing your breast self-exam can help you keep track of regular monthly changes.

Remember, many lumps and rashes are benign (not cancerous) and can respond well to proper treatment. If you experience any symptoms that cause you concern, see your doctor.

Treatments for breast cancer, as well as survival rates, are improving. Early detection and medical help is critical to improving the chances of living beyond a diagnosis of breast cancer.


Car accidents

Defensive driving and lower speeds are recommended when driving. One good principle can also be taken from engineering safety critical systems – redundancy. Redundancy is the duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the case of a backup or fail-safe. In driving this means that you drive below speed limits, anticipate moves of other drivers and have appropriate safety distance, etc.
And of course: don't drink and drive. Also keep in mind that driving in early morning hours is critical, because as a driver you can be exhausted and sleepy. And even more dangerous other drivers can be sleepy and exhausted as well not to mention drunk returning home from night clubs.


Colon Cancer

Colon cancer develops when cells lining the inside of the colon acquire mutations. Mutations permit some cells to grow uncontrollably and invade healthy tissues anywhere within the large intestine and potentially travel to other parts of the body. Catching the disease early with preventive screening allows for effective treatment before the cancer has a chance to spread to other parts of the body.

The Colon
The colon is a part of your digestive system that is sometimes referred to as the large intestine. Without a colon, you could not begin to form stool or absorb the final electrolytes and water from digested foods.

Why Me?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as to why one person develops colon cancer and another does not. Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer found in both men and women. Medical science can identify risk factors for colon cancer, meaning genetic or environmental causes that increase your chance of getting this disease. Your risk for colon cancer increases with:
- Advancing age (over 50)
- High fat, low fiber diet
- Family history of colon cancers
- Untreated polyps in the colon
- Chronic inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn's disease
- Tobacco and excessive alcohol use
- A history of previous cancers, especially reproductive

Unfortunately, the symptoms suspicious of colon cancer are also commonly attributable to other, more benign (non-cancerous) conditions. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor. Don't try to self-diagnose or second-guess your condition -- it may cause more harm than good in providing a source of unnecessary stress.

Even if you are symptom-free, maintaining your colon health starts with screening and preventive medicine. Your healthcare provider may find an irregular group of cells and treat them before they become cancerous. Many of the screening exams involve little or no discomfort and can give you quick peace of mind.
Blood tests require a blood sample from a large vein, usually in the crook of your elbow. If you have a strong family history of colon cancer, your doctor may encourage genetic testing, which is a blood test to determine your risk of developing cancer.
Stool testing can check for microscopic traces of blood. This test is not definitive for cancer; hemorrhoids and benign polyps can bleed.
Rectal exams may be completed in the doctor's office to check your rectum for any irregular growths.
Digital imaging, such as x-rays, is used to visualize all parts of the colon. You may be asked to swallow a contrast agent, like barium, or receive an enema so the soft tissues will show up on the picture.
Colonoscopy is used to visualize the inside of your colon using a tiny camera attached to a flexible device. The doctor may be able to remove polyps or take tissue samples during this procedure.
All individuals should begin preventive screening by their 50th birthday; get screened sooner if you have prevalent family history. Positive genetic markers, irregular screening exams or symptomatic concerns may precipitate early testing.

Staging and Treatment Options
Many treatment options are available, ranging from minor procedures to major surgery. Your treatment options depend on a variety of factors, including personal choice, your overall health, your medical history, and the location and stage of the cancer.



A stroke occurs when the brain doesn't get the blood it needs, either because of a blockage in a blood vessel supplying the brain, or the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. Your risk of stroke is higher if you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, or diabetes.

What you can do to prevent it:

- Have your blood pressure checked; treating high blood pressure lowers the risk for stroke and heart disease.
- Lower your sodium intake to help reduce high blood pressure.
- Keep diabetes under control.
- If you smoke, take steps to quit since smoking increases your risk of stroke.
- Drink only in moderation; that is, no more than 1 - 2 drinks per day.
- Regular exercise and a healthy diet that's low in saturated fats can lower your risk.