After looking at 79 risk factors for death in 188 countries between 1990 and 2013, the team from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington and University of Melbourne found that there has been a profound change in risk factors for death.

"There is great potential to improve health by avoiding certain risks like smoking and poor diet as well as tackling environmental risks like air pollution," said IHME director Dr Christopher Murray.

A wide range of avoidable risk factors to health - ranging from air pollution to poor diets to unsafe water - account for a growing number of deaths and a significant amount of disease burden.

The new risk factors contributed to almost 31 million deaths worldwide in 2013, up from 25 million deaths in 1990, revealed the 25-year study of global burden of disease data.

The top risks associated with the deaths of both men and women in Australia are high blood pressure, smoking, high body mass index, and high fasting plasma glucose.

"Many of these risk factors are preventable with lifestyle changes," added professor Alan Lopez from University of Melbourne.


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