Noncommunicable diseases called the biggest killers

The World Health Organization has released its second major report in six months on the growing worldwide threat from noncommunicable diseases, especially the five biggest killers: cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and diabetes.

Coming on the eve of an international conference on chronic diseases at the United Nations in New York, the new report provides detailed country-by-country guidelines for preventing and treating these debilitating and deadly illnesses.

The World Health Organization report says cancer alone kills 7.6 million people every year, more than the number who die from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

While it is the communicable, infectious diseases that get most of the attention in developing countries, the World Health Organization report notes that non-infectious, chronic diseases are the leading cause of deaths worldwide.

According to the report, the leading contributors to chronic disease are high blood pressure, high blood glucose, tobacco use, physical inactivity, and obesity.

At the U.N. summit, world leaders hope to raise public awareness of the devastation that noncommunicable diseases have been causing across both developed and developing countries, and to discuss the best ways to reverse the rising death rates from these diseases.

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