The US is often said to evidence a much higher mortality rate than it ought to. When we take all of the academic and fiscal resources at our disposal into account, the leading causes of death in America defy reason.
On June 22nd, the University of British Columbia conducted an analysis of the social and behavioral factors most closely associated with dying in the U.S.
The materials provided by the research team were derived from a nationally representative U.S. Health and Retirement Study composed of participants ranging in age from 50 to 104, with an average age of 69.3.
It should be noted that some potential adversities like, food insecurity, and domestic abuse were omitted from the data set.
A shortlist of the deadliest lifestyle predictors followed an in-depth review of the figures collected from the 13,611 adults involved in the study between 1992 and 2008.
Once the predictors were successfully recorded, the authors identified which routinely applied to those who died between 2008 and 2014.
Consistently, smoking, divorce, and alcohol abuse yielded the most robust relationships with early death out of the 57 social and behavioral factors featured in this new study.
The remaining 10 were as follows:
1. Current smoker
2. History of divorce
3. History of alcohol abuse
4. Recent financial difficulties
5. History of unemployment
6. Previous history as a smoker
7. Lower life satisfaction
8. Never married
9. History of food stamps
10. Negative affectivity
“It shows that a lifespan approach is needed to really understand health and mortality,” explained Eli Puterman, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of kinesiology and lead author of the study. “For example, instead of just asking whether people are unemployed, we looked at their history of unemployment over 16 years. If they were unemployed at any time, was that a predictor of mortality? It’s more than just a one-time snapshot in people’s lives, where something might be missed because it did not occur. Our approach provides a look at potential long-term impacts through a lifespan lens.”
Alcohol guidelines were recently reassessed by The American Cancer Society. Initially, the organization allowed one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men (ACS defines a standard single “drink” as 12 ounces of regular beer, five ounces of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits or liquor).
In their latest risk assessment, however, the researchers advised the public to steer completely clear of booze if they can help it in order to decrease their risk of developing cancer.
Although smoking and mental unwellness have been linked to adverse health effects in the past, each received renewed attention when they were identified as correlates of severe forms of COVID-19.
That aside, the nation has been basking in self-destruction for decades. With grossly misallocated funds, communities disproportionately affected by suicide and homicide are continually ignored, health systems are funded to mitigate illness not prevent them, upward mobility is made impossible for demographics that would otherwise contribute to the labor force and there are still 27 states that do not have explicit statewide laws in place to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations:
All of these in their own way and in concert with one another contribute to pervasive illness in our country.
During a health crisis, no feature is immune from criticism. Especially when education is underfunded on virtually every level.
“If we’re going to put money and effort into interventions or policy changes, these areas could potentially provide the greatest return on that investment,” Puterman said. “Smoking has been understood as one of the greatest predictors of mortality for 40 years, if not more, but by identifying a factor like negative affectivity — this idea that you tend to see and feel more negative things in your life — we can see that we might need to start targeting this with interventions. Can we shift it and have an impact on mortality rates? Similarly, can we target interventions for the unemployed and those with financial difficulties to reduce their risk?”