Thousands of people could avoid an early death by making certain lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of the leading causes of death in the UK.

The top five causes of death in the UK are as follows:

  1. Cancer

  2. Heart disease

  3. Stroke

  4. Lung disease

  5. Liver disease

These common causes of death are responsible for over 150,000 premature deaths each year in the U.K alone.

1. Cancer

According to the Office of National Statistics, cancer was responsible for almost a third of all deaths registered in the UK in 2014. About 167,000 people in the UK died by cancer that year.

More than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. There are more than 200 different types of cancer. Bowel, prostate, lung and breast account for more than half of cases.

Reduce your risk of cancer:

A healthy lifestyle can’t guarantee cancer prevention, but these tips from the Mayo Clinic can certainly help reduce your risk:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat healthily
  • Maintain a healthy BMI and be physically active
  • Protect yourself from the sun
  • Practice safe sex
  • Get regular cancer screenings

2. Heart Disease

Among the top causes of death in the UK, heart disease kills almost 74,000 people each year. Heart disease occurs when plaque develops in the arteries and blood vessels that lead to the heart. This cuts off important nutrients and oxygen reaching your heart. Plaque is a substance made up of fatty molecules, cholesterol, and minerals.

Experts say most cases of premature death from heart disease are completely preventable. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, smoking, binge drinking and physical inactivity are all significant risk factors.

Reduce your risk of heart disease:

  • Try to do more exercise. Exercise reduces your risk of heart attack by 30%.
  • Lower your blood pressure. A good way to do this is by minimising your intake of salt.
  • Follow a healthy diet, one that’s rich in plant-based foods.
  • Don’t smoke.

3. Stroke

A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. A stroke can affect how you move, feel and think. Anybody can have a stroke but some people are more at risk than others.

Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of stroke. These include:

  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • atrial fibrillation
  • high cholesterol.

An important way to reduce your risk of stroke is to find out if you have any of these conditions and work with your doctor to manage them.

Lifestyle factors:

Lifestyle choices have a big impact on our risk of stroke. Things like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight and eating unhealthy foods can damage your blood vessels, increase your blood pressure and make your blood more likely to clot.

4. Lung Disease

Two of most prevalent lung diseases include asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

The U.K has one of the highest rates of asthma cases in the world. An analysis from Asthma UK discovered that over 5.4 million people suffer from it and an average of three people a day die from it. It is one of the leading causes of death in the UK.

Smoking is the main cause of COPD but a small number of cases are caused by exposure to fumes and chemicals. The disease kills approximately 23,000 people a year. The number of premature deaths is almost twice as high as the European average.

Reduce your risk of respiratory disease:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid second hand smoke or exposure to chemicals and fumes.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking vitamin D supplements to reduce your risk of severe asthma attacks

5. Liver Disease

Between the year 2000 and 2013, the number of deaths from liver disease among under 65s has increased by one third.

The main cause of liver disease is obesity, heavy drinking and undiagnosed infection.

Read about more health statistics in the U.K.

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley