From ANH International
Have you been noticing that more people appear to be dying or becoming critically ill of late? Many of us have, and it’s tragic when it’s close to home. And while we all recognise dying is an inevitable consequence of living, it is understanding the causes of changes in human population dynamics now as compared with our recent history that is of particular interest, given the frequency at which people are born and die dictates the size of the global population of humans. We’ll be bringing you in a future newsletter some of the latest insights from the other side of the coin, changes in fertility and birth rates, as that’s also of great concern.
Excess deaths – illusion or reality?
Excess deaths – the number of people dying compared with those expected to die – is a subject that’s coming up a lot in general discussion and in social media feeds. There seems to be two main reasons for the hype about it; one subjective, the other a little more objective.
The subjective part is down to many people having a perception of people they know, or know of, getting very sick particularly as a result of heart conditions or so-called ‘turbo’ cancers, or dying unexpectedly or more often than they might expect. So many people you talk to will comment on people close to them having recently become gravely ill or having died, often unexpectedly. News reports frequently inform us of the death of celebrities, many dying seemingly before their time.
But before we jump to conclusions, it’s time for a reality check. A truism is that our perception doesn’t necessarily reflect our reality, which is one of the reasons science exists so that observations can be evaluated and hypotheses tested. Most of us, for example, have never lived through a global pandemic – one in which millions were predicted of dying and ostensibly, according to official statistics, nearly 7 million across the world did pass on, at least in part, owing to infection by SARS-CoV-2.
You know that if you buy a yellow car, you suddenly become aware of just how many yellow cars there are on the roads, you having quietly ignored them before you acquired your own? It can be the same with your awareness of people getting sick and dying. We’ve all become hyper aware of people dying as a result of the pandemic, but we’ve also all become a few years older, so our cohort and everyone else on the planet has also become older so more prone to dying.
There are of course many possible reasons why people might be dying more frequently than expected. These could include delays in receiving diagnoses or treatments for serious diseases; a reduced tendency for people to visit physicians, clinics and hospitals; reduced trust of medical systems; persistent psychosocial stress; impacts of post-viral syndrome (e.g. long covid); impact of overweight, obesity and other chronic diseases; loss of immune system resilience; environmental exposure to toxicants or harmful electromagnetic fields, and/or; changes in lifestyles, diets or behaviour, especially among those already burdened with one or more chronic diseases. We know, for example from a study by an Italian team reviewing data from six countries on three different continents, there was a substantial increase in people having and dying of heart attacks outside hospital during the first wave of the pandemic than was the case prior to the pandemic.