Smoking fuels gender health gap

Smoking
is the main reason why on average men die sooner than women across Europe, according
to research.

World
Health Organization figures on death rates reveal tobacco-related illness
accounts for up to 60 per cent of the gender health gap in most countries.

In
the UK, women live an average of four years longer than men, although in recent
years the gap has been closing.

Second
to smoking, alcohol accounts for about 20 per cent of the disparity, the
journal Tobacco Control reports.

Some
experts have claimed the difference is down to simple biology or the fact that
women seek medical help more readily than men.

But
the latest findings suggest smoking is the main culprit.

Across
30 European countries, which included the UK, deaths from all causes were
higher for men than for women.

Iceland
and the UK ranked the lowest, with around 200 excess male deaths per 100,000
population each year, while Lithuania and Ukraine ranked the highest, at over
800 excess male deaths per 100,000.

When
the researchers looked at what had contributed to the deaths, they found
smoking was behind 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the gender gap in all countries,
except Denmark, Portugal and France, where it was lower, and Malta where it was
much higher – at over 70 per cent.

In
the UK, smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer and heart disease, caused
60 per cent of the excess male deaths.

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