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Living in Southern WV Can Take 11 Years Off Your Life

September 15, 2008

Charleston, WV – Living in Southern West Virginia can be hazardous to your health. A new report from West Virginians for Affordable Health Care shows life expectancy is falling in the southern part of the state, especially for women in McDowell, Mingo and Logan Counties; they lose up to 11 years of life expectancy on average, compared to national figures.

Group director Perry Bryant says the first step towards improved health would be to establish a regional health department for the area, and quickly conduct studies and assessments on how to improve health. He says they already know that obesity, smoking and heart disease rates are high in southern West Virginia, so some programs could quickly get underway.

"Smoking cessation and obesity reduction efforts are obvious. Also, ensuring that people have access to safe drinking water is critical."

Bryant says in-depth studies of the environment might also be necessary to find out if contaminants contribute to the health problems.

Bryant says the statistics are startling, and unfortunately common in some other parts of the country.

"The life expectancy in southern West Virginia closely resembles Indian reservations."

The full report, based on statistics provided by Harvard, can be found at
www.wvahc.org.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - WV