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Public Health (25-07-2006)

Leading causes of death in EU – Report shows large differences between Member States

Two thirds of deaths in the EU are caused by circulatory diseases and cancer, according to statistics released by the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.
Heart attacks, strokes and other circulatory diseases account for 41% of all deaths. Cancer is responsible for 25% of all deaths and is the biggest killer of people aged 45-64.
External factors such as transport accidents and suicide are the most frequent cause of death among the young. Transport accidents are responsible for 14% of accidents among the under-20s – with over two and a half times more males than females being killed. However, the picture differs significantly between Member States, with almost five times as many deaths among the under-20s in Slovakia than in Sweden (19 and 5 deaths respectively per 100,000 men aged 0-19).
Among the 20-44 age group, suicide is responsible for 12% of all deaths, with men being four times more likely to commit suicide than women. The highest suicide rates can be found in north-east Europe and the lowest rates in southern Europe. Lithuania has 90 deaths per 100,000 men aged 20-44, followed by Estonia with 55, Latvia with 54 and Finland with 43. Lithuania also had the highest rate of suicide among women (12), followed by Finland and the Flanders region of Belgium (11) and France (9). Among the countries with the lowest rates were Greece (5 men, 1 woman), Italy (10 men, 3 women) and Malta (11 men, 3 women).
In the 45-64 age group, cancers are responsible for 41% of all deaths. Cancers of the lungs and throat were most common among men (106 deaths per 100,000), with the highest death rates in eastern Europe: Hungary (236), the CzechRepublic (187) and Slovakia (174), and the lowest rates in Sweden (39) and Finland (51). Among women, breast cancer was the most prevalent, accounting for 48 deaths per 100,000 women. The highest death rates were in Denmark (66), the Flanders region of Belgium (64) and the Netherlands (60), and the lowest in Greece and Spain (both 38).
Among the elderly (65-84), diseases of the circulatory system, including ischaemic heart disease (e.g. heart attacks) account for 42% of all deaths. The highest death rates from this disease were in Estonia (2,305 men and 1,318 women per 100,000) and Lithuania (2,219 men and 1,335 women), while the lowest rates were in France (402 men and 169 women) and Portugal (460 men, 275 women).
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