Three Simple Steps Could Prevent About 100 Million Deaths Worldwide, Study Says

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Three key strategies could prevent almost 100 million premature deaths worldwide between now and 2040, according to a new study conducted by scientists at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and published in the journal Circulation.

The measures called for include treating high blood pressure with medications, reducing salt intake, and eliminating trans fats. Based on data from numerous previous studies and estimates from the World Health Organization, the study determined that treating 70% of the world’s affected population for high blood pressure could save 39.4 million lives. Developing hypertension is very common, as it’s just one example of the damage you do to your body when you don’t get enough sleep.

Equally effective would be reducing salt consumption globally by 30%, which could add another 40 million to the total of saved lives. Banishing trans fats could prevent the early demise of another 14.8 million people — adding up to 94.2 million.

Men would apparently be the primary beneficiaries of these measures: The study suggests that they would account for more than half of the delayed deaths overall and two-thirds of those for people younger than 70.

The lead author of the Yale study, Dr. Goodarz Danaei, associate professor of global health at the Chan school, acknowledges that scaling these interventions on a global level would be a major challenge, but characterized them as being “both achievable and affordable.” A bad diet can also be to blame for a surprisingly high share of cancer cases.