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November 3rd, 2008:

Total Deaths From Tobacco Use Will Rise Sharply

Three quarters of deaths in developing world will be caused by heart and lung diseases by 2030

BMJ – November 3, 2008 – John Zarocostas

Deaths from heart disease and lung disease in developing countries are set to rise considerably in the next 25 years as populations age and deaths from infectious diseases decline, says a report from the World Health Organization.

The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 Update says that the leading causes of death globally in 2030 are projected to be “ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and lower respiratory infections (mainly pneumonia).”

Non-communicable conditions will account for 75% of all deaths by 2030, up from 60% in 2004, said Colin Mathers, coordinator for epidemiology and burden of disease at WHO, and lead author of the study.

In 2004 an estimated 58.8 million people died worldwide. Of the deaths more than half were among people aged 60 or over. However, one in five deaths were among children under the age of 5, and in the African region 46% of all deaths occurred in children under 15 years old.

The study draws on national health data, epidemiological studies, and household surveys from 193 member countries. It found that nine out of every 10 child deaths from malaria and nine out of every 10 child deaths from HIV/AIDS occur in Africa. Half of the world’s deaths from diarrhoea and pneumonia also occur on the continent.

In 2004 the leading five causes of death in poor countries were pneumonia, heart disease, diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS, and stroke. In rich nations heart disease caused most deaths, followed by stroke, lung cancer, pneumonia, and asthma and bronchitis.

Experts estimate that deaths from cancer will increase to 11.8 million by 2030, up from 7.4 million in 2004. Global cardiovascular deaths are expected to reach 23.4 million in 2030, up from 17.1 million in 2004.

WHO estimates that total deaths from tobacco use will rise sharply reaching 8.3 million in 2030, up from 5.4 million in 2004. It also forecasts a 28% increase in deaths from injury, largely a result of road deaths, which are expected to reach 2.4 million in 2030, up from 1.3 million in 2004.

However, the report anticipates large declines in mortality by 2030 for all the noteworthy communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional causes, including tuberculosis and malaria. Although the report estimates that deaths caused by HIV/AIDS will initially rise from 2.2 million in 2008 to 2.4 million in 2012 they too will decline to 1.2 million in 2030.

The report also found that depression is the leading cause of years lost as a result of disability in rich and poor countries. Alcohol dependence and problem use are among the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide.