This Halloween let’s discuss something genuinely frightening: Premature Death

Death is an inevitable part of the human experience. What’s truly terrifying is premature death, the abrupt cessation of life before one’s time, leading to disability, pain, human suffering, and the agonizing prolongation of dying.

The risk of experiencing premature death is deeply intertwined with the accessibility and availability of both beneficial and harmful products and services. Geography and economic factors play a significant role, often resulting in disparities that are both diverse and inherently unfair. Human behavior is remarkably malleable, influenced by the environment we inhabit. The availability of care and the presence of both advantageous and detrimental products further shape our fate.

Consider that the average life expectancy at birth in North America is approximately 74.5 years for men and 80.2 years for women. The median age at death, when we remove gender, geography, race, or ethnicity as dividers, stands at 73.7 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) designates death before the age of 70 as “premature.” So, let’s uncover the common culprits responsible for prematurely ending North Americans’ lives, and at what age they typically strike:

  1. Gunshot wounds: Median age at death, Striking at 28 years.
  2. Fentanyl: A devastating 35 years.
  3. Vehicular accidents: Crashing lives at 40 years.
  4. Overdose not otherwise specified (NOS): A chilling 46 years.
  5. Alcoholism: A sobering 57 years.
  6. Tobacco addiction: Snuffing out lives at a mere at 66 years.
  7. Cirrhosis: A grim 67 years.
  8. Diabetes: Cutting lives short at 67 years.
  9. Chronic kidney disease: Claiming victims at 68 years.
  10. Lung cancer: A tragic 71 years.
  11. Cancer NOS: A cruel end at 73 years.
  12. Stroke: Taking lives too early at 73 years.
  13. Myocardial infarction (heart attack): time stops ticking prematurely at 73 years.

All other significant causes of death, with median ages above 73.7, fall outside the “premature” category. These include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, influenza, pneumonia, and sepsis.

Premature death, typically defined as occurring before the age of 70, is closely linked to factors like behavior control, addiction, and the presence of harmful agents. These agents encompass street drugs, alcohol, tobacco, unhealthy foods, and even firearms.

The accessibility of these harmful agents, including sugar-laden foods, ultra-processed junk, illicit drugs, and firearms, contributes to a wide array of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to addiction and violence. While society derives certain benefits from these substances and tools, it is imperative to weigh the risks they pose to our health.

Conversely, the availability of beneficial elements, such as quality education, gainful employment, safe living environments, and nourishing foods, can serve as a shield against premature death.

Addressing this alarming issue demands a multifaceted strategy, focusing on interventions that shape demand, harm reduction tactics, and the provision of support to encourage healthier choices. Despite the formidable challenges, it’s vital to strive for a society that prioritizes longevity and well-being.

Ultimately, it all boils down to choices—individual, family, societal, and governmental choices, whether wise or reckless. Life, along with its timing, is a calculable risk. So, why not choose a longer life and work towards making it better? Happy Halloween!

Share this post