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Still the "sick man of Europe"?

Date: November 2012
Category: Report
Author: Bruce Whyte and Tomi Ajetunmobi

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Scotland’s poor health profile within Europe is well-known, but health trends within Scotland are changing.  While our findings demonstrate that there have been notable improvements in Scottish mortality for a range of major conditions, there are still many concerning trends. 

There have been sustained long-term reductions in mortality for colorectal cancer, female breast cancer, male lung cancer, male ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease among Scotland’s working age population.

Among the concerning tends are those for all-cause mortality among the younger working age population (aged 15 – 44 years).  There has been no reduction in mortality among younger working age men or women since the mid to late 1980s.  Scotland now has the highest mortality among this age group in Western Europe.

Additionally, Scottish mortality rates for oesophageal cancer are now the highest in Western Europe; the suicide rate among Scottish men is 50% higher than in 1968; and rates of mortality from chronic liver disease (including cirrhosis) among men and women, despite reductions in recent years, remain at historically high levels and are among the highest in Western Europe.

Female lung cancer mortality is another key issue.  Unlike male lung cancer mortality, which peaked in the mid 1960 into the 1970s and has since dropped substantially, the female lung cancer mortality rate rose to its present level in the early 1990s and shows no sign of a decline.  This represents a 25 year peak and a quite different pattern to that observed for male lung cancer mortality.  

The graphs which accompany this report can be downloaded here.