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SUN HERALD | Editorial Take the first steps toward a longer life

For this last-place finish, Mississippians have no one to blame but themselves.

We have the shortest life expectancy of everyone in the 50 states and District of Columbia. We are literally killing ourselves. In Harrison County, we've managed to shave 4.5 years off the average life span of men. Women can expect to live an average of six years less than women in Hawaii, the state with the longest life expectancy.

One factor is access to health care. That is the one area we can blame politicians, Republicans in particular, because they refused to expand Medicaid to provide health coverage to the state's working poor.

It's obvious that isn't going to be reversed in the foreseeable future and complaining about that lack of foresight isn't going to make any of us live longer.

Getting up and moving will. Exercise is one thing that will make you healthier and it won't cost you a dime. Eating less won't cost more, either.

And smoking? If you smoke, you're burning up a significant portion of your paycheck and wrecking your health at the same time. If you drink too much -- health experts recommend no more than a drink or two a day -- cut back.

We rank the highest in the United States in obese and overweight adults and we have the sixth highest rate of smoking.

The leading cause of death in Mississippi is coronary heart disease, followed by stroke; lung disease; Alzheimer's; lung cancers; hypertension; diabetes; breast cancer; influenza; and pneumonia and kidney disease.

Smoking, drinking and overeating contribute to those health problems.

And finally, we have the highest rate of motor-vehicle deaths -- 21.3 per 100,000 -- so slow down, put down the smartphone and pay attention.

Life is good. Don't throw it away on bad habits.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.