Beijing time on December 5, according tomedia reports, for the former “ignorance”, we always have a smug attitude: the former people really do not know lead paint, cigarettes and caffeine is harmful to human health? But for the modern life of all kinds of hidden dangers, many people choose to turn a blind eye, such as the ubiquitous radiation around, side effects are not clear drugs and so on. These things may be health-free, or they may put us to death. But in the society of the future, death may also appear in a way that we cannot predict.
What on earth will future humans die from? For this question, take a look at the answers of the following experts:
Associate Professor, Population Health and Disease Prevention, University of California, Irvine
It should be about the same as it is now, mainly heart disease and cancer. For a long time, these two diseases have been the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than half of them dying as a result. And these patterns change very slowly, so I expect that even in 20 years, heart disease and cancer will still be the leading cause of death in the United States.
Of course, there may be some slight changes in this. Cancer is likely to jump from the current second place, and heart disease may fall to second place. The proportion of people dying from heart disease has been falling for the past five years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it does fall to second place.
With the post-World War II baby boomers approaching 75, an ageing population is getting worse. So common causes of death in older populations are becoming more common, especially accidents (such as falls), infectious diseases, pneumonia, etc. Alzheimer’s disease, which had been ranked no more than 10 per’s in the U.S., has jumped to sixth place.
Unusually, diabetes has also risen in recent years and is now ranked seventh. And as obesity rates continue to rise, the ranking will be further advanced.
But demographers are also well aware of the so-called “competitive risk” that, in short, there is only one cause of death in a person, so only one of the causes of death listed above can rank first. Some ranking ahead of time, others will have to rely on the back. Now that heart disease and cancer are now at the fore, the leading cause of death in the future may still be both.
Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Indiana, Buramington
To predict the leading causes of death in the United States in the future, the structural and social factors that affect mortality must first be considered. Public health and medical technology in the 20th century have made great progress, and life expectancy has increased dramatically as a result. At the beginning of the 20th century, people died mostly of infectious diseases. But by the beginning of the 21st century, most people’s deaths had turned into chronic diseases. Today, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer.
Chronic diseases may continue to be the leading cause of death in future societies. Cancer is complex and difficult to treat. Not to mention heart disease, because the social behavior and social factors that affect the incidence of heart disease may not change much over the next decade or two. Not only that, but rising obesity rates among young people can also help us predict the types of common diseases that will lead to death in the future, such as diabetes.
Over the next 20 years, there will be other new trends affecting mortality. First, people who enjoy social status or economic advantages will live longer. People are living longer and more people are dying from “geriatric diseases” such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, which are becoming the leading cause of death for people born after World War II. Second, the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen. This inequality will have a significant impact on population health, making upward class mobility more difficult and potentially leading to an increase in infant mortality. More people may die of despair, such as from drug or alcohol abuse, or suicide. Third, epidemiologists have been reminding us of infectious diseases that are likely to re-emerge. In the near future, bacterial and fungal resistance may become a major threat to public health. Finally, climate change also has an impact on population health. With a slight change in temperature, mortality from violence and cardiovascular disease sits increased. Changing circumstances may also have an impact on autoimmune diseases such as allergies. Over the next 20 years, the main human cause of death will largely depend on how humans respond to these structural factors affecting mortality.
Professor of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University
I believe that in answering this question, most of the answers are given in the names of various diseases, and most of the solutions proposed are to increase medical investment and develop more preventive or therapeutic drugs. We have come to the default that the cause of health damage is all kinds of diseases, and that improving health depends on laboratory-developed drugs. But if you look at the spatial map of these diseases, it is the social and cultural conditions in the region that affect the health of the population. There is often a strong correlation between the incidence of heart disease, cancer, stroke and obesity in the same region and social groups. People’s health levels tend to be poor in areas where too much emphasis is placed on personal lifestyles and choices that put people under stress. Over the past decade, we’ve found that Americans are increasingly interested in creating divisions within groups and dividing a whole group into small groups.
And this trend will be one of the leading causes of death in the United States in the future. Whether it’s people who don’t have a sense of belonging in cities, neighborhoods, and families, or those who “evict” them, they experience a series of physiological reactions called “adaptive loads.” This physiological response causes levels of steroids and epinephrine in the blood to remain high for long periods of time, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and cancer. Can these problems really be solved by cardiovascular experts and oncologists?
These include millions of single men who divorced in the 1980s and have not been able to remarry, and are now over the 70s mark. If the LGBTQ community is unable to integrate into mainstream society, it will also be excluded from society. The Latino community has been relatively healthy, but there are signs that the health of these groups has begun to deteriorate since 2016.
If we have to focus on diseases, we’d better invest more in heart disease, cancer and stroke, which have far higher mortality rates than other diseases. Epidemics like the 1918 Spanish flu were dangerous, but people’s economic levels and health were generally poor. The number of deaths from suicide, alcohol and drugs is not high at present, but it is also a cause for concern, as the number of people who have died as a result has continued unabated in recent years.
In short, in discussing the main causes of death for human beings in the future, we should let go of our minds and not just focus on all kinds of diseases.
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Director of the Disease Ecology Laboratory, Eastern Washington University
Let’s start: I’m not a medical practitioner, but a disease ecologist who studies the interaction between hosts, pathogens and the environment. However, I have decades of research experience in the laws of global infectious diseases.
In the future, antibiotic resistance will be one of the most serious problems we face. Some life-threatening bacterial infections have been much easier to treat in the past. Unless we can develop new antibiotics, things will only get worse. Another big risk we face is influenza, which will never be solved unless a universal flu vaccine can be developed for all strains. New infectious diseases may also emerge, as can host and geographical transfers, as can be seen in recent years by the Ebola virus, Zika virus, chikungunya, MERS and SARS. We are always caught off guard.
Climate change and land-use change will also further increase these risks, particularly diseases transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes and other insects. Climate change can also cause other problems, such as floods, wildfires, inadequate food supplies, extreme heat, and so on. Heat stroke, asthma and other respiratory diseases may become more common and may contribute to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. The causes of non-communicable chronic diseases may change, but they will remain the leading cause of death in humans in the future.
Lecturer in Health Sciences, Boston University
Future people will certainly not all die from the same disease, and the disease satmost risk will depend largely on demographics. Although we have effectively contained many of the deadly diseases that used to be common, such as poliomyelitis and plague, many new infectious diseases have emerged, and many have returned. Water cleanliness and public health conditions around the world have improved considerably, effectively reducing the incidence of cholera and other diarrhoeal-leading diseases, but many people still suffer from the disease. More than 1 billion people worldwide are suffering from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Although many of these diseases are not directly fatal, they can cause lifelong pain and may result in disability, and these secondary effects can lead to death. Because these diseases are often ignored, most people may never have heard of them. In addition to specific groups and projects, the global fight against diseases is limited.
In addition, climate change has changed the risk factors we face and will continue to change in the future. Mosquitoes, ticks, and other vectors that transmit deadly diseases are beginning to shift to new areas where residents may never have been exposed to diseases such as malaria and yellow fever before and are immune to them. Natural disasters caused by climate change may also contribute to the spread of disease. Many experts believe that sooner or later we will encounter another pandemic of a similar magnitude to the 1918 “Spanish flu”, which is only a matter of time. We have observed that some viruses become more deadly when mutated. About 70 percent of the new diseases now come from animals, which is likely to be the next major infectious disease.
Finally, we cannot ignore the impact of chronic diseases and noncommunicable diseases on different populations. The impact of these diseases is particularly pronounced in high-income countries, but has also begun to rise in recent years in other countries. For years, heart disease, stroke and cancer have been the number one killers worldwide. The specific causes of the illness may vary, sometimes geographically, but poor eating habits and lack of exercise are clearly to blame. This will continue unless people’s diets and habits change dramatically. Unfortunately, as the incomes of residents in many areas continue to increase, these bad habits will only get worse. (Leaf)