Diet, smoking and alcohol main causes of death in OECD countries

The “Health at a Glance” report 2017 shows that over 10 million deaths have been recorded in the OECD countries in 2015. Thus the number of deaths on an average in these countries is 793 per 100,000 population. The report shows that one third of these deaths were caused by ischemic heart disease, stroke and diseases of the blood vessels. One fourth of all deaths were due to cancers.

Mortality report

The report speculates the leading causes of death indicate the increasing age at death and increased life expectancy. The circulatory system diseases for example rise after 50 years of age. Both dementia and diseases of blood vessels remain the top two causes of death among people over 80 years of age. Deaths due to communicable diseases or infections have decreased compared to deaths due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes etc.

  • The report on deaths due to all causes has shown that there are around 583 deaths per 100,000 population in Japan which is the minimum. On the other hand are the highest death rates seen in Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic in 2015 at 1,000 deaths per 100,000 population.
  • Blood vessel and circulatory system diseases causing deaths were over 869 deaths per 100,000 in the Russian Federation. Japan had the lowest rates of circulatory system disease related deaths at 152 deaths per 100,000 population.
  • Unhealthy diet, smoking and alcohol consumption were seen to be the most important causes of these deaths
  • Cancer related deaths were also quite significant in the OECD countries ranging between 123 and 286 deaths per 100,000 in 2015.
  • Respiratory system diseases related deaths were highest in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Colombia. External causes including trauma and other harm led to most number of deaths in Brazil, Latvia, Lithuania, South Africa and the Russian Federation. HIV/AIDS was significant contributor to death rates in South Africa.
  • Dementia related deaths were most common in women than in men. Lung cancers and accident associated deaths were more common among men than women.

Deaths due to circulatory diseases

These deaths include those due to heart attacks, stroke etc. Results from the report shows:

  • Ischemic heart disease was the reason for 12 percent of all deaths in the OECD countries in 2015.
  • Deaths due to ischemic heart disease and heart attacks were higher for men than in women (by 82 percent)
  • There is a 50 percent reduction in rates of deaths due to ischemic heart disease in all the OECD countries. This reduction is most in some countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Israel falling by over 70 percent. Reduction of smoking and tobacco use could be linked to this reduction. Another reason for these improved numbers is the improvement in health care.
  • Deaths due to ischemic heart disease has risen in Korea unlike in most other OECD countries
  • Stroke is responsible for around 7 percent of all deaths in OECD countries in 2015.
  • Latvia, Hungary and the Slovak Republic have a three times higher rate of deaths due to stroke compared to Switzerland, Canada and France. Russian Federation and South Africa also have high numbers of stroke related deaths.
  • Deaths due to stroke have reduced by over half in most countries. Estonia, Luxembourg, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Austria have seen a 70 percent reduction in rates.

Deaths due to cancer

The “Health at a glance” report 2017 has shown that cancer is the second leading cause of deaths in the OECD countries. It causes 25 percent of all deaths. The number of deaths due to cancer was 15 percent in the 1960s. The report shows:

  • Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium and Australia have shown that the number of deaths there due to cancer exceeded those caused by circulatory system diseases such as heart disease.
  • Across the OECD countries the average mortality due to cancer is over 200 per 100,000 population.
  • The death risk due to cancer is lowest in Mexico, Turkey, Finland, Switzerland, Japan, Israel, Korea Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica and South Africa (below 180). The rates are highest in Hungary, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Latvia (over 240)
  • Death rates due to cancer have fallen the most since 1990 in Czech Republic and Switzerland (by average 18 percent).
  • Death rates showed reduction in cancers of stomach, colon and rectum, lung and prostate for males and breast, ovary and cervix for women. The number of deaths rose due to liver, skin and pancreas for both sexes and lung cancers in women.
  • The gender difference was widest in Korea, Turkey, Latvia, Estonia, Spain and Portugal where the rates in men were twice that of women. For men lung cancer claimed most lives (22 percent of all deaths in males and 16 percent in females). Lung cancer deaths have reduced in Mexico, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Finland and the United Kingdom among men but risen in women from Netherlands, France and Spain.
  • Death rates due to breast cancer were highest in Ireland, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark and the Netherlands. Colon and rectal cancers kill both men and women and in Japan it is the leading cause of deaths in men. Lowest level of colorectal cancers was seen in Mexico and Turkey and highest levels seen in Hungary and the Slovak Republic. Prostate cancer remains more prevalent among men over 65 years.

Reference: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/health-at-a-glance-2017/main-causes-of-mortality_health_glance-2017-8-en;jsessionid=13583tnpit6cm.x-oecd-live-02

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