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Over 60 per cent of deaths in 2008 caused by cardiovascular diseases and cancers

WHO report says that nine out of ten deaths in Ireland three years ago were caused by noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases.

Image: jasleen_kaur via Creative Commons

ALMOST NINE OUT of ten deaths in Ireland in 2008 were due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), many of which are preventable, according to a new report from the World Health Organisation.

The largest cause of death cardiovascular diseases at an estimated 34 per cent, while cancers were the second-biggest killer at 29 per cent.

Respiratory diseases accounted for 7 per cent of deaths and diabetes caused 2 per cent of deaths that year.

The Irish results reflected the overall global trend, as of the more than 36 million people around the world died from NCDs in 2008, almost half were from cardiovascular diseases and another fifth were due to cancers.

More than 9 million of the global deaths from NCDs occurred under the age of 60 “and could have largely been prevented”, according to WHO.

“Exposure to the four main behavioural risk factors that contribute to NCDs – tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets – remains high worldwide and is increasing in the majority of low- and middle-income countries,” the report says.

The organisation says that report’s findings show the “enormous burden on mortality and alarming rates for risk factors” including smoking tobacco, physical inactivity, raised blood pressure, obesity and being overweight, and raised cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

Many countries are struggling to build and maintain integrated healthcare policies to prevent, detect and treat NCDs, meaning that a “large proportion of people” at high risk of NCDs are both undiagnosed and untreated.

Premature deaths from NCDs range from 22 per among men and 35 per cent among women in low-income countries down to 8 per cent among men and 10 per cent among women in high-income countries. The report lists Ireland as a high income group.

WHO estimates that almost a quarter of all men in Ireland in 2008 smoked tobacco daily, while just under one-fifth of women smoked.

Body mass increased for both men and women in Ireland between 1980 and 2008, with 67.8 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women deemed overweight in 2008. About a quarter of the population is estimated to have been obese.

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