Almost 900,000 Americans die prematurely from the five leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke and unintentional injuries -- yet 20 percent to 40 percent of the deaths from each cause are preventable.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study analyzed premature deaths -- before age 80 -- from the five leading causes of death for each state from 2008 to 2010.
"As a doctor, it is heartbreaking to lose just one patient to a preventable disease or injury -- and it is that much more poignant as the director of the nation's public health agency to know that far more than a hundred thousand deaths each year are preventable," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement.
Reducing risk factors could result in about a third of deaths prevented for each of the top five causes of death:
-- Heart disease risks include tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, poor diet, being overweight and lack of physical activity.
-- Cancer risks include tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity, being overweight, sun exposure, certain hormones, alcohol, some viruses and bacteria, ionizing radiation and certain chemicals.
-- Chronic respiratory disease risks include tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke, indoor air pollutants, outdoor air pollutants, allergens and exposure to occupational agents.
-- Stroke risks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, being overweight, previous stroke, tobacco use, alcohol use and lack of physical activity.
-- Unintentional injury risks include lack of seat belt use; lack of motorcycle helmet use; unsafe consumer products; drug, alcohol and prescription drug misuse; exposure to occupational hazards, unsafe homes and unsafe community environments.
The study was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.