5 ‘harmless’ things everyone does that are deadlier than smoking


There are nearly 1.22 billion people who smoke worldwide, and that number is only set to rise as the world’s population expands. A majority of the people who smoke live in developing countries. While the percentage of the people who smoke in developed countries is constantly on the decline, the percentage of people who smoke in developing countries is increasing by 3.4% a year.

The incidence of smoking is on the rise in developing countries. (Pexels)
What’s alarming is that smoking kills over 5 million people every year, and this number is constantly increasing. There are a number of diseases that are brought on by tobacco consumption in the form of cigarettes, and these include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction, and birth defects.

A number of detrimental effects are associated with smoking. (Pexels)

While the health hazards associated with smoking have been widely publicized, and smokers are often demonized and ostracized, there are so many other things that are just as bad if not worse than smoking. Behaviors or phenomena we may not see as particularly pernicious can often affect our health in a negative way, with more serious implications than tobacco consumption. Read on to find out what is secretly so deadly:

There are behaviors deadlier than smoking. (Pexels)
1. Staying up late
A study published by the World Health Organization was conducted on 657 men in Russia by Professor Valery Gafarov. It discovered that the men who suffered from sleep disturbances and got less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep a day were 2 times more likely than their peers to suffer from a heart attack and 4 times more likely to have a stroke.

Skipping out on sleep can affect your health. (Pixabay)

The risk of these diseases for people who don’t sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day is comparable to the risk faced by people who smoke or don’t get enough exercise. The study recommended that people who find themselves sleeping less than 7 hours a day either change their schedule or see a doctor if they cannot pinpoint the cause behind their loss of sleep.

Visit a doctor if you’re experiencing sleep disturbances. (Pexels)

It’s interesting to note that while the loss of sleep can have a detrimental effect on your health and boost mortality rates, studies have also found that catching up to lost sleep on the weekend negates these harmful effects. But be careful as sleeping too long has also been shown to increase mortality rates.

Sleeping too much is as bad as sleeping too little. (Pixabay)

2. Sitting all day
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of a study they conducted on the effects of physical inactivity on people’s health. Researchers discovered that the longer people stayed sitting or engaged in the sedentary behavior, the higher the risk they demonstrated for certain cancers, including colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and lung cancer.

Avoid sitting for too long. (Pexels)
There is a long history of research that has established a strong correlation between sedentary behavior and diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. In fact, by being a cause of obesity, sedentary behavior is indirectly linked to increased incidences of strokes among overweight people.

A sedentary lifestyle has a negative effect on health. (Pexels)

In order to mitigate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on your health, professionals recommend walking 30 minutes a day or exercising to lose a few pounds. It is recommended to avoid sitting for more than an hour at a time without getting up. Try to exercise at least three to five times a week in order to avoid these chronic and deadly long-term diseases.

Ensure that you get adequate exercise. (Pixabay)

3. Getting some color
Artificial tanning is no longer just a harmless way of making yourself look more attractive to people, as this beauty obsession can turn fatal. Tanning has been shown to have some deadly side effects that are even worse than those associated with smoking. In fact, people are better off standing in the sun all day if studies are to be believed.

Tanning indoors can be deadly. (Pixabay)

A study published in JAMA found that the incidence of skin cancer among people who regularly made use of tanning beds was higher than the incidence of lung cancer among people who smoke. This made indoor tanning deadlier than smoking when it came to causing cancer. The study included both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Using a tanning bed dramatically increases your risk for skin cancer. (Wikimedia Commons)

If that doesn’t turn you off, tanning beds have been known to indirectly transmit an STD caused by a virus called molluscum contagiosum that causes raised bumps on the skin. The virus itself isn’t deadly and it goes away by itself after a few days or weeks. However, that should give you more pause the next time you plan to get some color out of the sun.

Next time, just head outdoors for a tan. (Pexels)

4. Being lonely
If you have few friends that you rarely meet face to face, and you prefer to wipe your tears dry by yourself in the secrecy of your bedroom, then you may be at greater risk of mortality than people who smoke 15 cigarettes a day, according to a recent study. The deleterious effects of loneliness were linked to enhanced mortality rates and were said to rival smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure.

Loneliness can turn deadly. (Pexels)
5. Eating junk food
It is estimated that over 2 billion people worldwide are obese, and many of them, despite being overweight, are malnourished because of the poor nutritional quality of the food they consume or have access to on a regular basis. Obesity has greater prevalence among the underprivileged because of how cheap and accessible junk food is.

Junk food can be deadlier than smoking. (Pixabay)

A number of studies have proven that processed foods that are loaded with sugar and saturated fats are responsible for raising people’s risk of developing chronic health conditions that have a high chance of turning deadly. In fact, the risk of deadly diseases that arise out of a poor diet matches, if not exceeds, the risk of deadly diseases caused by smoking.

Sugary foods are associated with serious health risks. (Pixabay)

Hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, obesity, strokes, vitamin deficiencies, degenerative nerve disease, and several kinds of cancer are all potential diseases that a poor diet could lead to. In fact, a 2016 study found that the death rates of tobacco, drugs, alcohol, and unprotected sex combined were lower than the mortality risks derived from unhealthy eating habits.

Junk food can lead to many chronic ailments. (Pixabay)

Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only. If you are experiencing any health issues or are seeking a health and lifestyle evaluation, consult a medical professional.