The World Health Organization released a massive ‘Global Burden of Disease‘ report yesterday, charting the world’s leading causes of death and the most common health problems, as well as people’s biggest disease and disability risk factors in 50 individual countries. Here’s more information on the overall findings. We’re going to focus now on what the report says about the health of 20- to 45-year-old women in North America.
I used this interactive tool from the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation to look at the biggest disease and death risk factors and the leading causes of death in women in five age groups: 20-24 years old, 25-29 years old, 30-34 years old, 35-40 years old and 40-44 years old — living in “high-income North American” countries. Some of the more interesting and/or surprising things:
Domestic violence. The biggest premature death risk factor for women 20-24 years old is domestic violence; it’s second highest for 25-29 year old women, and in the top 10 risks for all five age groups.
Poor diet. In the 25-29 year old group, more than half of the top 15 premature death risk factors are diet-related, including eating too few fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, getting too few whole grains, drinking too many sweetened beverages and consuming too much trans fat.
Poor diet, 10 years later. When you get to the 35-39 year old group, you begin to see less risk factors related to poor diet per se and more risk factors related to the consequences of poor diet. The top 15 risk factors for this age group include high body mass index, high fasting blood sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Suicide. Self-harm makes the top-10 leading causes of death lists for all five age groups.
Breast cancer. Women start dying of breast cancer more often beginning in their 30s. Breast cancer is the number 6 killer of women ages 30-34 and the number one killer of women ages 35-44.
HIV/AIDS. Young women in North America are dying of AIDS nont infrequently; it’s within the top seven causes of death for women ages 20 to 40 years old.
Heart disease. Heart disease makes an appearance as a leading killer in the 35-39 year old cohort (5th) and jumps to the number two cause of death for 40-44 year old women.