Many causes of death are linked to diet & exercise. 

“If medical error were considered a disease, a new study has found, it would be the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and   cancer,” -reported the New York Times in May.

The new study, based largely on a 2000-2002 study of Medicare patients, estimated that roughly 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical errors.1 That’s less than the two leading causes of death-heart disease and cancer-which hover around 600,000 each.

But those population-wide numbers obscure differences among age groups. For people aged 45 to 84, cancer is the leading killer (see below). Lung cancer alone accounts for roughly 158,000-27 percent-of all cancer deaths, followed by colorectal (49,000), breast (40,000), and prostate (26,000) cancer.2

In the table below, we’ve colored all causes of death that are at least partly related to diet and exercise. That includes Alzheimer’s disease, because a healthy diet and exercise can lower your odds of other kinds of memory loss that are hard to distinguish from Alzheimer’s.

Leading Causes of Death By Age Group, 2013

Rank 25-3435-4445-5455-6465-7475-8485+All Ages
1Accidents 16,209Accidents 15,354Cancer 46,185Cancer 113,324Cancer 155,552Cancer 153,214Heart Disease 242,469Heart Disease 611,105
2Suicide 6,348Cancer 11,349Heart Disease 35,167Heart Disease 72,568Heart Disease 98,432Hear Disease 147,255Cancer 98,792Cancer 584,881
3Homicide 4,236Heart Disease 10,341Accidents 20,357Accidents 17,057COPD & Emphysema 35,603COPD & Emphysema 49,346Alzheimer’s Disease 56,152COPD & Emphysema 149,205
4Cancer 3,673Suicide 6,551Liver Disease 8,785COPD & Emphysema 15,942 Stroke 18,722Stroke 36,151Stroke 54,729 Accidents 130,557
5Heart Disease 3,258Homicide 2,581Suicide 8,621Diabetes 13,061Diabetes 17,279Alzheimer’s Disease 23,073COPPD & Emphysema 42,245Stroke 128,978
6Diabetes 684Liver Disease 2,491Diabetes 5,899Liver Disease 11,951Accidents 10,967Diabetes 19,587Influenza & Pneumonia 26,641Alzheimer’s Disease 84,767
7Liver Disease 676Diabetes 1,952Stroke 5,425Stroke 11,364Kidney Disease 8,524Accidents 14,438Accidents 20,537Diabetes 75,578
8HIV/AIDS 631Stroke 1,687COPD & Empysema 4,619Suicide 7,135Blood Infection 7,693Influenza & Pneumonia 13,949Kidney Disease 17,239Influenza & Pneumonia 56,979
HIV/AIDS 1,246Blood Infection 2,445Blood Infection 5,345Influenza & Pneumonia 7,441Kidney Disease 13,317Diabetes 16,885Kidney Disease 47,112
10Influenza & Pneumonia  449Influenza & Pneumonia 881HIV/AIDS 2,378Kidney Disease 4,947Liver Disease 7,087Parkinson’s Disease 10,549Hypertension 13,991Suicide 

Source: Natl. Vital Stat. Rep. 65 (2): 1, 2016. 1BMJ 2016. doi:10.1136/bmj.i2139.  2Cancer Facts & Figures 2016, American Cancer Society. Note: COPDis chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Stomach Cancer Defense                   

worldwide, stomach cancer kills more people than any cancers other than lung and liver. U.S. stomach  cancer  rates  have  plummeted in the last 85 years, but five-year survival rates are still   only around 30 percent. According to a new update by the Ameri­can Institute for Cancer Research, here’s how to lower you r risk:

  • Avoid processed meats.That incl udes any meat that’s been preserved by smoking, curing, or salting, or with addi­ tives like nitrites. Some examples: bacon, ham, bologna, hot dogs, and some sausages.
  • Lose (or don’t gain} excess pounds. People who are overweight or obese have a greater risk.
  • Minimize salt-preserved foods.Studies in East Asia find a higher risk in people who consume pickled vegeta bles and salted or dried fish , but the evi­ dence is insufficient in other regions of the world.
  • Limit alcohol. People who consum e three drinks a day have a higher risk.

The new report found only limited evidence that eating grilled, broiled, or bar­becued  meat or fish  or eating too  little fruit increases stomach  cancer risk.   iles/Stomach-Cancer-2016-Report.pdf.

 Can Coffee Prevent Liver Cancer? 

Can coffe lower your risk of cancer? The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrion, a study that has tracked more than 520,00 people from 10 countries for 15 years, suggests that it does. Researchers compared the coffee intakes reported by 125 healthy people who were later diagnosed with the most common  liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) to the intakes reported by250 similar people without the disease. AThose who drank at least 2Y2 cups of coffee a day had a 75 percent lower risk of liver cancer than those who drank less than 11 cups a day. What’s more, the coffee drinkers had lower blood levels of interleukin- 6 ( an indicator of inflammation) and other markers of liver injury, which could explain how coffee may protect the liver. The study didnt look at decaf and regular coffee separately. 

What to do: it’s too early to aim for four cups of coffee a day to protect your liver. Kepp in mind that one venti at starbucks holds 2 1/2 cups, and the caffeinated coffee can make you jittery and increase the risk, of miscarrying. But if you enjoy coffee, there ‘s no reason to stop. Researchers also find that coffee drinkers have lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and that caffeinated coffee lowers the risk of parkinson’s disease. 

Am. J. C/in. Nutr. 102: 1498, 2015.

Red meat & the Pancreas 

Diets high in red meat – beef , pork, lamb and veal – may raise the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Researchers tracked roughly 528,000 AARP members who filled out diet questionnaires.

After 10 years, men who reported eating the most red meat (at least 8.5 oz. a day) had 40 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than men who ate the least (2.2 oz. or less). Those who ate the most red meat cooked at higher temperatures also had a higher risk than those who ate the least .

The scientists found no link in women, who ate less red meat and were less likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than men. 

The researchers found evidence that certain AGEs (advance glycation end product) could help explain the link between red meat and pancreatic cancer. AGEs, which increase when foods are cooked at higher temperatures, may harm the pancreas by causing inflammation and insulin resistance.

What to do: This study doesn’t prove that red meat causes pancreatic cancer. But it’s worth shooting for no more than 18 oz. per week to lower your risk of colo rectal cancer.      To lower AGEs, cook meats at lower temperatures or steam, stew, or poach rather than boil, roast, fry, or sear them. marinating meats in marinades that contain vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic liquids can also lower AGEs. 

Article by Bonnie Liebman & Lindsay Moyer for the Nutrition Action Healthletter , June 2016

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