According to the Centers For Disease Control, it’s not necessarily your genetic code that matters most when it comes to dying at a young age — it may be your zip code.
The CDC has determined that where you live plays a major role in determining your risk of avoiding a “preventable death,” with preventable death meaning there’s something you can do about it to when it comes to living longer — such as not smoking to avoid a heart attack at a young age, or wearing a motorcycle helmet to protect you from smashing your head against hard pavement.
Now you might ask again what is really “preventable” –after all, we all die sometime. That’s true, but there’s a big difference between tanking at 50 than there is at 85. In simplest terms, it is all about not dying before your time.
And that’s what the CDC looked at: the five main causes of death in the U.S. and how huge a difference there is between one state and another. And it looks like geography evidently plays a bigger role than we thought for preventable deaths.
It’s estimated that 40 percent of deaths in the U.S. are “preventable.”
Here’s the main five main causes of death in America, and how they are “preventable” to a substantial degree:
1. Heart disease: Smoking, untreated high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, poor diet, being overweight, and being a couch potato. You do have a choice to control these issues and prevent “the big one” from attacking your heart. Colorado ranks 4th best out of 50 states with 4 percent of heart deaths considered preventable — that’s not too bad considering that 40 percent is the preventable national average.
2.Cancer: Once again, smoking tops the list here, plus poor diet, lack of physical activity, being overweight, sun exposure, certain hormones, too much alcohol, pollution, ignoring regular cancer screenings such as pap smears and colonoscopies, exposure to certain chemicals and other substances all play a role in your lifespan. Colorado ranked No. 2 nationally — that’s good — with 4 percent of cancer deaths felt to be preventable.
3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases A/K/A emphysema: Tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke exposure, other indoor air pollutants, outdoor air pollutants and occupational agents. Colorado ranked No. 25 out of 50 states with 19 percent of lung deaths being preventable. Smoke and air quality are big issues in our state.
4. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke): High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, being overweight, tobacco use, alcohol use and lack of physical activity. Basically the same stuff as will cause your ticker to fizzle out early will also increase your risk of stroking out. And many of the risk factors and causes are, once again, within your control. Colorado ranked No. 7 with 14 percent of stroke deaths in our state felt to be preventable.
5. Accidental injuries: Speeding, not wearing a seat belt, thinking that a motorcycle or bike helmet is for wimps, drug and alcohol use (including prescription drug misuse), exposure to occupational hazards, and unsafe home environment (a wide range of issues here). Colorado ranked No. 19 here, with it thought that 38 percent of accidental deaths in our state are preventable. That’s sizable.
If you wonder how other states did, it seems like the South is the region of the country with the highest rates of preventable deaths.
All in all, Colorado did well.
But don’t be lulled by a low rate, as in only 4 percent of heart deaths being preventable. If you’re in that 4 percent, it’s obviously important to you. Or was important to you.