(HealthyResearch.com) – Our location can determine a lot about us. We might think of the United States as having one cohesive culture, but different regions can vary greatly — along with customs, eating habits and other nuances that can affect more than just our values and beliefs.
Life expectancy can vary dramatically with those differences. On average, people can expect to live shorter lives in many southern states; however, a handful of areas stand out even beyond the rest. Here are five states where average life expectancy is the lowest.
1. Oklahoma – Life Expectancy: 75.4 Years
The heart attack capital of the country, Oklahoma ranks No. 1 in the nation for heart disease-related deaths. Heart disease contributes to 1 in 4 deaths in the state, or nearly 10,000 deaths every year.
One reason Oklahoma has so much heart disease could have to do with the relatively high tobacco consumption in the state. Diets in this region include typical Southern fare, so clogged arteries from lots of meats and deep-fried foods also likely add to the local casualties.
2. Kentucky – Life Expectancy: 75 Years
The highest death rate due to cancer goes to Kentucky. Even with adjustments for age, nearly 186 in every 100,000 residents die due to some form of malignancy. For comparison, Utah, which has the nation’s lowest cancer rate, sees only 120 cancer-related deaths for the same number of people.
According to the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, lung cancer is the biggest offender, although breast, cervical and colorectal cancers also strike Kentuckians at particularly high rates. About one-quarter of adults in this state are smokers, which is likely why both cancer and heart disease are major killers here. The state’s high obesity rate also plays an apparent role.
3. Alabama – Life Expectancy: 74.9 Years
Cancer and heart disease are both prominent in this state, where 21.5% of adults are smokers and 66.3% are overweight. According to AdvanceLocal, Alabama has the second-worst eating habits in the entire nation, with a particularly bad soda pop habit. The heavy sugar intake also likely accounts for the state’s high diabetes rate.
4. West Virginia – Life Expectancy: 74.8 Years
West Virginia is the most accident-prone of all the states, with over 100 accidental injury deaths every year per 100,000 residents. Unintentional drug-related deaths are a major contributing factor to the high rate, although domestic violence and childhood neglect are also problems. Because of all the mountainous terrain filled with winding country roads, West Virginia’s fatal motor accident rate is also well above the national range, according to local experts.
5. Mississippi – Life Expectancy: 74.5 Years
Heart disease is a major killer in Mississippi, which has the shortest life expectancy among all the US states, according to National Geographic. Studies show poverty and poor eating patterns contribute to much of this problem. Mississippi also has double the national average of homicide deaths, with an unusually high rate of fatalities involving firearms.
Location might influence a person’s lifespan, but it doesn’t have to be the deciding factor. Each of us has the power to take our health by the reins and improve our long-term odds. No matter where the location, positive choices can make a difference. The rewards are well worth the effort.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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