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— More than three million Chinese are dying prematurely each year from diseases that could be prevented with regular exercise and programs to cut smoking and alcohol abuse, the World Health Organization said in a report released Monday.

Worldwide, non-communicable diseases kill about 38 million people each year, including 8.6 million in China. Nearly half of those deaths could be prevented by reducing tobacco use and other risks that contribute to heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's director-general, said the world has the chance to reverse what she described as a public health ‘epidemic.”

By investing just $ 1-3 dollars per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs," Chan said in a statement upon releasing the 2014 Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases.

“In 2015, every country needs to set national targets and implement cost-effective actions. If they do not, millions of lives will continue to be lost too soon.”

Since the 1980s, stepped-up public health efforts have dramatically improved life expectancies for many of China's 1.3 billion people. But as China's economy grows, its people confront some of the same health challenges faced by their affluent counterparts in the United States.

In the United States, heart-related diseases claim about 31 percent of the 2.3 million people who died annually of non-communicable diseases yearly. 31 percent are cardio related, 23 percent cancers.

China with population of 1.4 billion has 8.6 million die of NCDs yearly. 45 percent cardio, 23 percent cancers. and other countries:

According to WHO:

More than 300 million Chinese are regular smokers, including half of all Chinese men.

More than four in five adolescents aged 11 to 17 do not engage in sufficient physical activity

About one in five adults have elevated blood pressure, which can lead to congestive heart failure.

“This new report is a dramatic wake-up call,” said Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, WHO representative.

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