For thousands of years humans have fallen to the illnesses served up by nature’s villains. Infectious disease such as bubonic plague, malaria and tuberculosis have killed millions. But the tables have turned — we are now killing ourselves at a higher rate than nature is killing us.
The World Health Organization reveals this in the Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases. Each year, of the 57 million deaths in the world, 63% (36 million) are now from self-inflicted causes. Four specific risk factors were identified: (1) tobacco, (2) alcohol, (3) lack of exercise, and (4) poor eating habits.
Around the world, one billion adults are overweight. This will rise to 1.5 billion by 2015. Of children under 5 years of age, 40 million are overweight or obese.
Tobacco kills more than 5 million people a year, and will kill 8 million people a year by 2030.
If people around the world would stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, get regular exercise, and eat healthfully there would be a 40% reduction in cancer and 75% reduction in heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
People have more to fear from their own habits than from bacteria and viruses of nature, but so many don’t know how to make healthy choices. The Bible predicted this when God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
Ellen White, a 19th century health reformer, advised that all people should be wise in knowing the causes of disease and to do something about it. “It is the duty of every person to become intelligent in regard to disease and its causes. … We should become acquainted with the laws of life… When there is so great peril in ignorance, is it not best to be wise in regard to the human habitation fitted up by our Creator, and over which he desires that we shall be faithful stewards?” Healthful Living, 19.