Why we need statistics

by Amina Tumi, Hair & beauty Salon Owner, London and Bryony Inge, Campaign Manager, London.


“Cancer deaths among women to rise 60% by 2030”, new report warns1.

Have we ever taken a moment to stop and really consider what statistics are actually there for and what their purpose is?

For example:

  • The number of women diagnosed with breast cancer alone could almost double to 3.2 million a year by 2030 from 1.7 million in 20152.
  • An estimated 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2012, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke3.
  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression4.

Statistics are a way to find out what is taking place in our world on a mass scale and can be used to help us really understand diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, endometriosis, depression, stress, anxiety etc… so why ignore something that has great purpose and potential?

If we are largely ignoring them (and we are), we have to ask ourselves:

Do we really want to get to the bottom of our woes and, are we prepared to see more than we currently do when it comes to our own contribution to the state of the world?

Why have we arrived at a point where we are able to read statistics of such magnitude and yet turn a blind eye with not an ounce of responsibility? We read statistics but we are not deeply connecting to what they are presenting. We may engage with them but it continues to only be on a surface level; the reality is we don’t want to know that we are a part of them, we don’t want to feel the state of the world, the rot that we are all contributing to, the very fact that we DO KNOW this is taking place but we are not prepared to do anything about it. We like to moan about life, the way it currently is, the parts that are not what we deem successful but in this, are we prepared to step forward and make the necessary steps that are required to bring about change?

So where are we going, what will life look like in 20 years from now? It is obvious by the headlines above that we are heading into more turmoil, more illness, disease and more conflict.

Are we willing to stop this tunnel vision way of living, thinking that we are not responsible for what is occurring in life or do we wait until we become a statistic of illness and disease – and even then, do we see this an opportunity to change the way we are living, knowing this has contributed to the illness in the first place?

Given the increasing evidence that lifestyle is a major determinant of health and that only 5% percent of all cancers are genetic, statistics invite us to deeply look at the way we are living on a daily basis in all areas of our lives and to see whether we are making choices that are truly healthy or not.



1) https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/02/cancer-deaths-women-rise-warning-lancet

2) https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/02/cancer-deaths-women-rise-warning-lancet – See also Lancet Medical Journal http://www.thelancet.com/series/womens-cancers

3) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/

4) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/


Read more:

  1. Global statistics on women
  2. World statistics day -October 20th 2015


470 thoughts on “Why we need statistics

  1. Figures like 1.7m with breast cancer, 17.5m dying from cardio-vascular disease, 350m with depression. These are staggering numbers of people – they look small on paper but imagine you tried to get them all into the same room. The room would have to be the size of the world! It’s so important we don’t become immune to this, and at the same time… imagine what a 1% change would make to the world…

  2. Being able to use numbers to support how we live in society is super important, it is just what we choose to do with those numbers, to always provide a meaning and reference to them, not just letting them stand on their own, but to support.

  3. It is interesting to consider the extent of the statistics and what they highlight. The issue is though that these are often viewed in isolation so we do not see the whole mess we are actually in. What if we put health, economic, wellness and crime together and see the real extent to which these issues are playing out in our lives?

  4. The numbers indeed stack up to reflect that our current lifestyles don’t support our bodies or lives and yet we continue to ignore the facts. We must be heavily invested in not dealing with aspects of our lives to continue to ignore the pain we are in.

  5. As a society we have a great knack of dismissing information that we don’t want to hear and don’t want to face. Statistics can act as a road sign, alerting us of what lies ahead if we continue on the same track. We can either take heed and change course or carry on regardless.

  6. Yes statistics give us not only figures but the trends and changes, so as with the breast cancer figures above we get to see how in just 15 years the figures have doubled for diagnosis each year, that is really huge. Sometimes the figures do differ from one study to another, but if you look at say, half a dozen it is clear the general picture is the same, often a shocking one, and we do need to look at this.

  7. Why are we so complacent with numbers when it comes to our health? We use the WEB to research our new purchase of a washing machine and the numbers of people that recommend the product. We buy new cars on the percentages of reliability, performance and how economically it runs. So, why is the fact, according to numbers shown in Australia that the chances of getting prostate cancer in men over 50 is one out of two, of no concern?

  8. Do we talk to our children about their choices and how these choices relate to illness and disease or do we allow them to live in an isolated bubble of irresponsibility until they reach teenage years when we start to see the repercussions of this.

  9. The numbers in the statistics have become larger then life, meaning they are so staggering we have lost the ability to relate to them. We therefore should stop and read this statistics in a way that relates to our own lives, family and friends. Only if we are willing to relate to what these figures are communicating with us, what they really mean, will it awaken a sense of urgency within us.

  10. We accept numbers as truth! One is, one, single, stand alone. Zero is another number that has an absoluteness to it! If fact no matter how smart and powerful a computer is, they all work with only 1s and 0s. So, if we look at statistics are they just showing the logic of true and false? The recent tower block fire in London is a case in point. They tested the cladding of over 100 buildings with 700 more to be tested, for proof they were also flammable when someone said how much proof was needed, just remove them! Smoking causes cancer! The list goes on. Life is made complicated by us when it has always been just true or not true, to basic numbers.

  11. It’s true that we need statistics to take stock and reflect what is happening on a wider scale. However, I know from personal experience its easy to brush off statistics and not take full account of what they are sharing. When stopping to consider what they share, it is staggering!

  12. The biggest thing that happens to us has always been the thing that will never happen to us, because generally as a society we live in the denial that what we are doing affects our body, so it will never happen to us.

  13. When I first saw the title of this article… I immediately thought that this must be by my friend Christoph… And then I realized that this was writing about the statistics that just, like Flash streams in the world’s consciousness… All the health statistics that if fully cognized would certainly send shivers up the collective consciousness of all governments.

  14. We can treat statistics with disdain and gloss over the numbers presented, but what is really on offer is an invitation to wake up from our apathy and consider the reality of the world we live in, the many wayward choices we have made that have brought us to this point and the opportunities we have to turn the tide.

  15. I have often found that statistics can be a bit ‘standalone’ if seen out of context and simply just rolled out year after year with out a human side, but when we start to relate them back to what is truly going on and what statistics reveal, we start to open up a deeper and perhaps more open, meaningful conversation that may hold the True answers for humanity.

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