We have some good news and some bad news when it comes to smoking. The good news is that the rate of smoking adults in America has been rapidly shrinking over the last forty years, with a decline from 42% of the population smoking in 1965 to just 15% in 2015.
The bad news? Modern life is introducing quite a few other dangerous and incredibly unhealthy habits into our lives, some of which are just as deadly if not worse than smoking.
With our increasingly isolated and sedentary lives, we have grown dependent on several habits that are harming our bodies in the long-term.
Here are five bad habits that are just as deadly as smoking:
1) Eating Junk
Our faster lifestyles make it more and more difficult to sit down and enjoy a nice, healthy meal; much less do it three times a day.
On some days, the best we can hope for is grabbing a quick fruit or pastry on the way to work; on most days, we resort to unhealthy processed food that are high in sugar and saturated fats.
Fast food, microwaveable meals, canned goods, snacks and junk food, fried dishes and so much more—the bad food is all around us, and it can be so easy to fall into a routine of eating junk and nothing else for weeks at a time.
And this is literally killing us. A 2016 study found that the death rates caused from poor diets is greater than the death rates of tobacco, drugs, alcohol, and unprotected sex put together.
2) Lack of Sleep
With work following us home and keeping us up later into the night, and computer screens in every corner of the bedroom, finding the time (or patience) to lay down and sleep for eight hours a night is becoming increasingly problematic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around fifty to seventy million Americans suffer a lack of sleep. The situation is so dire that they have been forced to declare sleep deprivation as a public health problem.
The problem isn’t just fatigue and sleeping at work; the World Health Organization has found that not getting enough sleep is just as likely to cause a heart attack or stroke as regular smoking.
3) Feeling Lonely
This one may not exactly be a habit, but can anyone really argue that loneliness isn’t a growing problem all around the modern world?
With the rise of Internet and social media adoption, in-person interaction has slowly fallen over the last several years, causing some to classify loneliness as a worldwide epidemic.
Not only does this mean that a growing majority of people around the world are feeling emotionally and mentally drained from their bouts of loneliness, but it also means that they could be living shorter lives as a result.
One study found that loneliness can be so harmful for an individual that it can cut down on your life span as much as smoking around 15 cigarettes everyday would.
4) Indoor Tanning
We all love to get a good tan, but not all of us have the luxury of living near a beach. For those in colder climates, indoor tanning sessions is becoming an increasingly popular option.
The problem? While indoor tanning can give you a similar bronze glaze that regular tanning provides, it comes with the risk of hurting your body as severely as smoking.
A 2014 study published in JAMA concluded that indoor tanning is a greater precursor of skin cancer than smoking is with lung cancer.
Think about it: while every pack of cigarettes is covered in government warnings cautioning you about your health, not a single tanning salon is forced to reveal that they could potentially destroy your skin.
The researchers called it a “major public health issue”, and rightly so.
The days of working out in the sun all day and making do with your hands are long gone for many of us city-dwellers. Many careers now play out entirely in the office—everything from accounting to designing requires eight hours of day sitting at a computer, typing away day after day.
But sitting for so long is something our bodies were never meant to do. In a 2014 study, researchers measured exactly how long participants sat throughout the day doing various sedentary activities, including commuting, doing work, and watching TV.
They found that for every additional two hours that a person regularly sat throughout the day, the higher their risk would be for developing lung, endometrial, and lung cancer. It didn’t matter if they fit exercise into their daily routine; just the fact that they sat for so long in the first place was enough to harm their body.
Breaking Out of Routine
If you are a non-smoker, pat yourself on the back for taking care of your health and prioritizing your body.
But the work doesn’t stop there: habits that can damage our bodies just as badly as smoking are all around us. Ignoring the other bad habits you may have can be just as irresponsible as sticking a cigarette between your lips.