From the moment you’re born you’re on a one way street towards death. No one has avoided it yet, so there’s no reason to be too worried. Realistically, you probably avoid dozens if not hundreds of potential ways to die every day. From car accidents to falls to choking on a chicken bone, you could get done-in at any moment. But worrying about it is hardly the way to live your life.
That said, while we can all do our due diligence to stay safe and breathing, there are several things you may do that are inching you ever closer to having your ticket punched without you even realizing it.
10. Having An Apple Shaped Body Puts You at Higher Risk of Death
You probably don’t need to be told again that your diet and weight and exercise and all that jazz influences your overall health. Poor diet and poor health are more likely to lead you to an earlier grave. But did you know that your shape also influences this? As in your literal, physical shape.
Some people have what you might call a pear-shaped body, while others are a little more apple-shaped. Does it make a difference? More than you know. Research has shown that an overweight person who is pear-shaped is actually at less risk of death than someone with a “normal” weight who would be considered apple-shaped.
If you carry all your weight at your waistline, your risk of dying from any number of causes is higher than those who carry it on their hips and thighs. Traditionally, people, including doctors, are more focused on BMI. But this research suggests that even those with a good BMI who are thin but not muscular can still be less healthy than someone with a high BMI and more body fat.
In studies of over 15,000 people, those with higher waist-to-hip ratio who were not overweight were at a greater risk, up to two times, than people considered overweight and obese. Abdominal fat is more linked to type 2 diabetes, some kinds of cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and even dementia.
9. A Lack of Friends Puts You at a Higher Risk of Death
Good news for social butterflies, there’s evidence that your friends are helping you live longer. Bad news for various introverts and people who just don’t socialize well, because that means the opposite for you. A lack of friends and overall loneliness puts you at a greater risk of death than many other factors such as obesity, blood pressure and even smoking.
One study concluded that social isolation can have the same effect on your overall health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. It can shorten your lifespan by as much as 15 years. People who suffer loneliness and isolation have a 50% greater risk of dementia as well as 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increase in stroke risk. Across the board, it’s bad news.
If you’re feeling good about your own social life, then you should know many people aren’t. A third of people over 45 report feeling lonely, which can still happen even if others are around, while a quarter of those over 65 qualify as socially isolated, which means a lack of social connections.
8. Losing a Spouse Increases Your Risk of Death
Keeping in line with how relationships affect your health, losing a spouse can only devastate the partner left behind. Along with the emotional trauma of losing your partner, there’s also a potential physical toll.
A massive study over over 370,000 elderly couples across nearly a decade showed that when one partner dies, the odds of dying from literally anything will increase for the surviving partner. Cause-specific mortality increases as well for things like cancer, infections and more.
Other studies have shown that the younger a person is when their spouse dies, the more likely they are to die within the year. This is especially true for men. Men were 70% more likely to die within a year of their spouse dying than similarly aged men who had not lost a partner. Women were 27% more likely to die.
7. More Than 11 Moles On Your Arm Raises Your Skin Cancer Risk
For years now doctors have recommended going to get any suspicious moles on your body checked out in case it’s skin cancer. Most people have several moles already but if you sprout a new one or one grows larger or in an odd shape, it’s a good sign you may need to have it looked at.
Less well known is that moles, in general, are a sign you may be at risk for skin cancer. Some research has shown that if you have over 11 moles on your right arm, you are now at higher risk for skin cancer. Feel free to take a second to count yours.
If you got over 11, you may want to keep an eye on them and make sure you’re using sunscreen. Having over 50 moles anywhere on your body is also a risk factor. But if you got up to 100 moles, then the data suggests you’re now at 5 times the normal risk for skin cancer.
6. Couples Without Kids Have Higher Mortality Rates
The number of people in America who are choosing to not have children is growing, with 44% of non-parents between 18 and 49 saying they probably won’t ever have kids. And while it’s a growing and popular sentiment these days, some people may want to think twice as there’s evidence couples without kids don’t live as long.
Women who don’t have kids have shown a fourfold increase in death rates. Yes, there are a number mitigating factors to consider as well, but there’s a noteworthy correlation, nonetheless. The biggest thing to consider in a Danish study that looked at 21,000 couples seeking IVF was that they could not have children for whatever reason so there could have been a myriad of other health issues at play.
While the researchers could not assign causation and the numbers were low, just 316 deaths in 11 years, they were still something of a statistical anomaly.
5. Diet Soda Has Been Linked to Increased Risk of Stroke and Death in Women
The soda industry is massive, raking in $221.6 billion in 2020. For some, the sugar is too much and so they stick to diet soda. It’s not nearly as big as the entire business but diet soft drinks pull in over $4 billion per year. And sure, you’re cutting back on sugar but you may not be doing yourself any favors in the long run.
Artificially sweetened drinks have been linked to increased risk to a variety of health concerns including stroke and coronary disease. The study involved 80,000 postmenopausal women between 50 and 79 over the course of 12 years. The women who had two or more diet drinks a day were at 23% greater risk of stroke, 29% greater risk of coronary heart disease and had an overall risk of death increased by 16%. The risk factors increased further for women who were obese or of African American descent.
Again, there was no definite cause-and-effect link here but the noteworthy correlation may at least make you want to consider reaching for some water instead of a diet soda next time.
4. Tall, Thin Men Are at Higher Risk of Collapsed Lung
Obviously there’s no “right” body type but society tends to lean towards some being more desirable to most people than others. Being tall and thin, for instance, is typically considered healthy and attractive. But that’s not always true.
Tall, thin men are at an increased risk of pneumothorax, or collapsed lungs. It happens when air gets between your chest cavity and your lungs and then pushes down on the lung. Men are at highest risk between ages 20 and 40 and if you’re tall but underweight, that increases your risk further.
One theory is that growth spurts can spur the condition on. You grow taller while not gaining enough weight to keep up with the height and it causes a weakening of the lungs, which can then collapse. About half the patients who come into the Chest Medicine Clinic in Edmonton are tall, thin men.
3. Taller People Are at greater Risk of Cancer
Speaking of the dangers of being tall, your height may play a role in your cancer risk. There are 6 different cancers that seem to have increased risk for those who are taller. A study that followed nearly 1.3 million women over years showed that the relative risk of all cancers increases by 10% for every 10 cm or 4 inches over average height that you are. And that’s just in general.
Specific cancers carry different risks. Based on a 5 cm or 2 inch increase in height over the average you are at a 10% greater risk of kidney cancer, 8% for ovarian cancer, 4% for prostate cancer and 5% for colorectal. Other cancers have similar risks based on height, too.
2. Toxoplasmosis Significantly Increases Your Risk of Traffic Accidents
Toxoplasmosis is one of those things everyone on the internet knows about because plenty of sites have written about all the goofy ways it may mess with your brain. It’s been an internet staple for over 15 years. But the thing is, we keep discovering new ways it may mess with us.
So the original story about this parasite is that it infects mice and rats and makes them lose their fear of cats because it wants to get into the cats to continue its life cycle. So brave little rats get killed by cats and the parasite moves to the cat. Then you, a cat owner, get infected by cleaning your litter box. But what does it do to humans?
Aside from everything the other sites mention, including our own, toxoplasmosis may cause car accidents. It’s estimated that between 30% and 60% of the world population has been infected by toxoplasma gondii and part of the effect it has on humans seems to be slowed reaction times.
Based on comparisons between infected and non-infected individuals, those who have signs of the parasite are at a 2.65 times higher risk of traffic accidents. Those who have been infected longer show a lower risk, however. Something to consider next time you plan to head out for a drive after cleaning the litter.
1. People Who Didn’t Get the Covid Vaccine Are at Higher Risk of Traffic Accidents
Here’s one that’ll melt your brain for a minute. We all know that the Covid vaccine caused a bit of a divide amongst people. Most of us got it and some people thought it was part of some government and pharmacy company conspiracy to poison the population. Ignore all of that for now. Research has shown that people who didn’t get the vaccine are at a significantly higher risk of traffic accidents.
Researchers looked at over 11.2 million people over a one month period. Of that group, 16% didn’t get vaccinated while the remaining 84% did. There were 6,682 traffic accidents reported among all of them. The unvaccinated group accounted for 25% of all the crashes which translates to a 72% increased relative risk compared to the vaccinated. Even adjusted for diverse variations like age, sex, location, economic status and more the increase is still 48%.
So how does not being vaccinated relate to car crashes? The research can’t draw concrete conclusions but the hypothesis is that there are psychological factors at play that put a person who would be hesitant to get the vaccine at greater risk of accidents. In other words, people who are distrustful of public health recommendations may be more inclined to ignore driving rules and be reckless behind the wheel.