The ongoing violence in Syria has taken years off of people's life expectancy, according to a new analysis published in the journal Lancet on Wednesday.
Since the Arab uprising began in 2010, about six years have been shaved off of men's life expectancy in Syria while women have lost about five years.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, researchers found that the lives of people in Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt were about three months shorter than expected, according to the new study based on health data from 22 countries.
"Recent conflicts have shattered the basic (health) infrastructure in a number of countries," said Ali Mokdad at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who led the research. "Millions of people are facing dire water shortages and poor sanitation that will lead to disease outbreaks."
Mokdad and his colleagues warned the ongoing violence could reverse health advances made in the Middle East during the past two decades and that Syria could fall behind Africa in their attempts to reduce child deaths. Researchers found that heart disease was the top killer and said there had been a spike in mental health problems and injuries linked to the trauma of war.
"We should be more alert to emerging disasters," wrote Riyadh K. Lafta of the Mustansiriya Medical School in Baghdad, Iraq in an accompanying commentary. Lafta warned future emergencies might arise from the "new sophisticated weaponry used in conflict."