The Oregonian, Dec. 11, 1995, p. B4

Report says half Oregon '93 deaths premature

  • The state health officer states that personal behavior, such as drug use and unsafe sex, killed at least 50% of 27,596 residents.

    Half of the 27,596 Oregonians who died in 1993 could have lived longer, according to a state Health Division report. But most hastened their own demise through smoking, drinking, poor diets, insufficient exercise, illicit drugs and unsafe sex, the report found.

    Dr. Grant Higginson, state health officer, said the report released Wednesday shows that "societal and behavioral standards have a dramatic effect on mortality."

    The document estimated that:

  • Tobacco is the leading contributor to early death, claiming 16 Oregonians every day. In 1993, 6,000 Oregon deaths were linked to smoking, yet at least 22 percent of adult Oregonians continue to smoke.

  • Poor diet and sedentary lifestyle were the second most-cited contributor to early deaths. The study estimated that 4,000 Oregonians died of causes related to dietary factors including coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, cancers and diabetes. More than one in four Oregonians are overweight.

  • Alcohol abuse killed an estimated 1,000 Oregonians through highway accidents, liver cirrhosis, cerebrovascular diseases and suicide.

    Higginson said that of the $900 billion spent on health care in the United States during 1995, only a small fraction - 5 percent - went for prevention.

    "Until we learn how to convince individuals to change risky behaviors and can provide universal access to health care, human and economic costs will continue to rise," he said.



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