Although smoking rates are down all over the world compared to previous decades, there are various other unhealthy habits that are proving to be just as deadly. Here are five things that science has shown to be almost as deadly as smoking:
Social media is supposed to promote interconnectedness between people, but its growth has actually led to person-to-person contact declining. The former US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, has gone as far as to label loneliness a worldwide epidemic. In addition, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University discovered in her research that loneliness could reduce people’s lifespans by the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
A study conducted in 2014 found that being sedentary all day long increased the risk of a raft of different cancers. The researchers included in their meta-analyses data from 4 million people which stated how often they sat to watch television, work, or commute. They discovered that the people’s risk for colon, endometrial and lung cancers went up significantly regardless of whether they exercised during the day.
3. Loss of sleep
Between 50 and 70 million people in the US have some form of sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A professor at the World Health Organization noted that a lack of sleep increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks to similar degrees as regular cigarette use.
At first glance, tanning just seems like a controlled version of sunbathing outdoors, but both can potentially be even more dangerous than smoking. In fact, a study published in 2014 found that tanning actually led to more cases of skin cancer than smoking did with lung cancer. This notion in itself makes tanning a major public health issue.
5. Poor diet
Sugary, processed foods that are high in saturated fats can expose people to fatal diseases at rates that are similar to, if not greater than, smoking. A 2016 study found that mortality risks from a poor diet were even higher than those posed by alcohol, drugs, unprotected sex, and tobacco combined!