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Each year, nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely -- up to 40 percent preventable

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.

By Alex Cukan
Each year, nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely -- up to 40 percent preventable
Check your blood pressure regularly -- at home, a doctor’s office or pharmacy. CDC photo.

ATLANTA, May 1 (UPI) -- 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.

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“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:

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-- 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.

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-- 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.

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-- 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.

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