Thousands of British women are dying too young because they ‘try to drink, eat and smoke like men’, with many developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer
- Thousands dying young because they have adopted men’s unhealthy lifestyle
- UK is fourth highest premature death rate for women in the Western world
- Heart disease, cancer, lung disease and diabetes are also high for British women
- A 30-year-old British woman has a 9 per cent chance of dying by the age of 70
Thousands of British women are dying young because they have adopted men’s unhealthy lifestyles, experts warned last night.
A major study today reveals the UK has the fourth highest premature death rate for women in wealthy Western nations for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and lung disease.
A 30-year-old British woman now has a 9 per cent chance of dying by the age of 70 from one of these illnesses – largely driven by smoking, drinking and obesity.
Only the US, the Netherlands and Denmark perform worse among the 25 high-income Western countries.
Lead author Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London, said social equality means unhealthy lifestyles that were once the domain of men are now putting women at risk. ‘If women live like men, they will die like men,’ he said.
Only the US, the Netherlands and Denmark have higher numbers of women dying prematurely in the Western world
For British men the chance of dying early from one of the diseases is higher than for women – at 13 per cent – but other countries do far worse, so the UK falls to 13th out of 25 for men alone.
Last month a global study revealed British women now drink as much as men for the first time – making them the eighth heaviest drinkers in the world.
Social equality is advancing less quickly in other nations, so while British men drink roughly the same amount as women – three drinks a week on average – they are only 62nd in the world.
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Professor Ezzati said: ‘If health behaviour becomes more similar between men and women, they will die at similar rates.
‘In other countries female smoking, obesity and drinking has never got as high as for men.’
In South Korea, for example – where women’s risk of premature death is just 5 per cent – drinking and smoking are less common. Men have twice the risk, at 11 per cent.
Professor Ezzati said poor cancer survival rates in the UK, which have long lagged behind other leading nations, could also explain the data.
Other major factors may include poor diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure.
The study, which appears in the Lancet, compared premature deaths for the four ‘non-communicable diseases’ – which cannot be passed on – for 186 countries in 2016.
A 30-year-old British woman has a 9 per cent chance of dying by the age of 70 from diabetes, heart disease, cancer and lung disease
In the UK these four diseases kill nearly 90,000 – 37,000 women and 52,000 men – between the ages of 30 and 70 every year. The study also found Britain was likely to miss the UN target of cutting deaths from these diseases by a third by 2030.
It found the UK is lagging behind the world’s leading nations on health for both men and women.
For premature deaths among women, Britain comes only 19th out of 40 countries in Europe and 27th out of 186 in the world. For men, Britain comes 9th and 17th.
The data is the first evidence women’s lifestyle choices are increasing their risk of premature death.
Cancer Research UK said lung cancer rates are still peaking among women, years after they fell for men.
This is because many women in the UK took up smoking in the 1960s and 1970s – but were slower to give up when men started kicking the habit a few decades later.
It comes after a World Health Organisation report found the UK was the third fattest of 53 European nations, with 29 per cent of women and 27 per cent of men obese.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said last night: ‘The predictions are truly appalling – but believable. Successive governments have failed to produce a coherent strategy to tackle obesity, a major factor triggering the four key diseases.’
The Department of Health said cancer survival was at a record high, and smoking rates were at an all-time low. Public Health England is reviewing the study’s findings.
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