PETER MOORE: Medical statistics are brilliant
Why doesn't good news make headlines? The medical statistics for 2012 are brilliant and yet there is still a feeling everything is terrible. To read some of the papers we have epidemics in everything from cancer to violent crime.
For example, where were the headlines telling us cot death is at an all time low?
In 2011-2012 there were 254 unexplained baby deaths a year in England and Wales.
Each of these is a tragedy and I would love to report a year when there were no cot deaths, but this compares with 279 the previous year.
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Cot death has fallen dramatically since the 1990s. And this is not due to any expensive new drug or dramatic treatment.
It follows the simple advice to lay babies on their back.
And there is more good news. Between 1980 and 2010 the death rate for children between one and 14 fell by 65 per cent from 31 per 100,000 population to 11.
For pre-school children under five it fell from 51 to 17 per 100,000.
Compare this to 1901 when four out of every 10 deaths in England was in children under five.
It is not only in the UK. Worldwide deaths in the under fives has dropped by 60 per cent since 1970 from 16.8million to 6.8million.
With medical advances, improved housing and immunisation the last 30 years has seen a massive fall in deaths from chest problems in both children and adults.
A woman born in England in 1901 could expect to live to 49, a man to 44. Today, the life expectancy of women is 82 and men 78.
Worldwide we have also seen an increase in life expectancy with Brazil leading the way with an increase of 35 years since 1970.
How about crime? To listen to some politicians we seem to be surrounded by violence and anti-social behaviour.
Drug addicts are everywhere, but look at the facts: Devon and Cornwall has the seventh lowest crime rate of all the 43 police forces in the UK.
The number of people detained in Devon and Cornwall police stations has been falling for 10 years.
Despite the doom mongers who keep telling us how violent life is today, there has been an astounding fall in homicide down the centuries.
It is difficult for academics to ensure statistics from the past are accurate, but numerous studies have shown the homicide rate in England has fallen from about 20 per 100,000 population in the Middle Ages to one per 100,000 in the 20th century.
And the latest figures imply this trend is continuing into the 21st century.
Court records in London in 1278 record two homicides which took place after a fight broke out over a game of chess. Modern football violence is tame when compared with medieval chess. These figures for England are also seen across Europe.
Although the 20th century had two appalling world wars and numerous atrocities such as the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia and the Rwandan massacres, when compared with the size of the population many medieval wars were even worse.
The same fall is seen in violent crime although this is difficult to measure.
Domestic violence and child sexual abuse were not even illegal until the 19th century and so we have few records.
The first Act to prevent cruelty to children in England was 1889. Racial prejudice was the norm.
Despite the fear illegal drugs are everywhere, the 2011/2012 survey found that 8.9 per cent of people admitted using an illicit drug in the last year, the lowest figures since records began in 1996.
This fall is mainly due to a reduction in cannabis and ecstasy use. The use of class A drugs such as heroin has remained static. Although a mixed picture, we are not facing a drug fuelled epidemic.
Of course every early death and serious illness is a tragedy. And there are plenty of people struggling with financial problems in the recession.
It is not helpful to know most people are healthy if you are seriously ill, but for most of us: stop whingeing.
As we head into 2013 we are the luckiest and most healthy humans ever to have lived on the planet.