Simple changes in lifestyle could save the lives of 5,000 Scottish people each year, the country's leading doctor has said.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Harry Burns, warned of the damage that factors such as alcohol and obesity have on the nation's health.
In some deprived areas, the number of premature deaths from alcoholic liver disease is now higher than deaths from heart attacks, he wrote in his annual report.
He also said if current trends remain unchanged, the number of people diagnosed with bowel cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer could all rise.
Dr Burns predicts bowel cancer could rise by almost 50%, going from 3,412 a year in 2005 to an average of 5,116 a year during 2016–20.
Over the same period, the number of cases of prostate cancer is projected to rise from 2,420 to 3,207 – an increase of 33%.
Cases of breast cancer in women are projected to rise by 22%, going from 3,998 a year in 2005 to 4,886 during 2016–20.
Dr Burns said: "Coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer are the biggest causes of death in Scotland.
"Deaths from alcohol-related liver disease in Scotland are rising faster than almost anywhere else in the world.
"Tragically, thousands of Scots are dying from these conditions years earlier than they should."
Copyright © Press Association 2008
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