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Longer Lives Not Always Healthier Lives



A new study says people are living longer, but many are living longer in poor health. Researchers found that life expectancy has increased by about five years since 1990. On average, men worldwide can expect to live 67 years. Women can expect to live to age 73. The findings appear in a series of articles in the Lancet.

Richard Horton is the medical journal's top editor. He says the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study presents good news overall. The research found that far fewer people died of measles, tetanus, respiratory problems and diarrheal diseases in 2010 than in 1990.

Deaths from infections, childbirth-related problems and malnutrition fell about 17 percent to 13.2 million. Global efforts have focused on reducing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. AIDS deaths have dropped. But every year each of these diseases still kills more than a million people.

Mike Cohen is the head of global health research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He says infectious diseases are now better controlled. He says people live longer. But that means conditions not caused by infection, like high blood pressure and diabetes, are more common.

The study found that non-communicable diseases caused more than half of the global burden of disease in 2010. The two biggest killers are heart disease and stroke. They caused one-fourth of all deaths in 2010. The top causes of disability were physical conditions like arthritis, back problems, and mental and behavioral problems such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman . (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 19Dec2012)

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