Health Statistics: A glimpse into the future.

If I said to you that you have a 1 in 2 chance of winning the lottery, would you play? Of course! In fact, probably multiple tickets.

One in two odds are a pretty sure thing. I’d bet on those odds. Of course the real odds of winning the lottery are not quite so good, actually 1 in 293 million to win the Power Ball Lottery here in the U.S. So good luck with that!

But here’s the sobering truth when it comes to odds and health: 1 in 2 men in America will get cancer in their lifetime. A little better for women but not much. Under 1 in 3. Now those odds are not so good.

So here’s a question: Do we tend to view the 1 in 2 odds for winning that imaginary lottery above more seriously than we do the 1 in 2 odds of getting cancer?

Maybe. Maybe the difference is the positive versus the negative outcome in each case. Or we think they apply to the other guy, not us. Or, we simply don’t know what to do about it. In any case, the above cancer odds are a reality check.

Health statistics show us what the potential future is for each of us. And we can either use that information to shape what we are doing now to improve the odds that we will have a long, healthy and productive life. Or we can simply ignore them, and ‘hope’ we have enough health insurance to cover what might come up.

Here’s a few more troubling health statistics:

  • One in three women, and one in four men in America dies of heart disease. Every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart disease related event. Someone has a heart attack in the United States every 34 seconds. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America.
  • 1600 people die of cancer EVERY DAY. Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death.
  • Alzheimer’s disease actually kills more people than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.
  • More than 1/3rd (35.7%) of American adults are considered obese. More than 2/3rds(68.8%) of American adults are considered either overweight or obese. Obesity is linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, some cancers, gallbladder disease, gout, general debility and a lowered quality of life.   
  • In 2012, 10% of the population of the U.S. had diabetes with 1.7 million new diagnoses every year. It is the 7th leading cause of death. Studies show that it is probably undereported as a cause of death.

    Diabetes was also listed as the primary cause of kidney failure in 44% of all new cases in 2011.
  • According to Forbes, the annual health care costs in the U.S. are in the neighborhood of 3.5-4 trillion dollars as of 2012.

    That’s $22,030 for every family of four in 2013, up from $9,235 in 2002 with no sign of it slowing. Something's definitely gone wrong here.
  • 500,000 knee replacements are performed annually. 175,000 hip replacements. Hip replacements are expected to rise a staggering 675% over the next 20 years.
    The cause? According to Mathias Bostrom, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery: lifestyle.

Health statistics can give us a little insight into where we could potentially be headed if we allow them to. The problem is that we tend to depersonalize the statistics and think that they simply don’t apply to us.

Some people even say they don’t accurately reflect reality. But if statistics don’t matter, why do we even bother keeping them? The fact is, they do matter.

So use the above statistics as a tool. They’re telling you something about what your future might look like.

And if you don’t like what you see, now’s the time to take charge of your health and make a few changes to your diet or begin an exercise program. Or so many other things you can do, like drinking clean water (NOT tap water), or beginning to use herbs or nutritional supplements.

Every additional small action you take to build your health adds up to improving the odds for your future. I’ll be talking a lot about what those small actions are, so stay tuned!