Reducing six risk factors - tobacco use, alcohol use, salt intake, high BP, blood sugar, and obesity - to globally-agreed levels could prevent 37 million premature deaths over 15 years, from cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease, cancers, and diabetes, new research has revealed.
Worryingly, the findings indicate that not reaching these targets would result in 38.8 million deaths in 2025 from the four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs), 10.5 million deaths more than the 28.3 million who died in 2010.
Using country-level data on deaths and risk factors and epidemiological models, Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London, UK, and colleagues estimate the number of deaths that could be prevented between 2010 and 2025 by reducing the burden of each of the six risk factors to globally-agreed target levels-tobacco use (30 per cent reduction and a more ambitious 50 per cent reduction), alcohol use (10 per cent reduction), salt intake (30 per cent reduction), high blood pressure (25 per cent reduction), and halting the rise in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
Overall, the findings suggest that meeting the targets for all six risk factors would reduce the risk of dying prematurely from the four main NCDs by 22 per cent in men and 19 per cent for women in 2025 compared to what they were in 2010. Worldwide, this improvement is equivalent to delaying or preventing at least 16 million deaths in people aged 30 years and 21 million in those aged 70 years or older over 15 years.
The authors predict that the largest benefits will come from reducing high blood pressure and tobacco use. They calculate that a more ambitious 50 per cent reduction in prevalence of smoking by 2025, rather than the current target of 30 per cent, would reduce the risk of dying prematurely by more than 24 per cent in men and by 20 per cent in women.
The research has been published in the journal Lancet.