Irish Independent – Cigarettes and alcohol blamed for men dying younger

A new report has unlocked the mystery of why men die so much younger than women — and smoking and drinking habits are two of the biggest culprits.

The study, which examined 30 European countries to find out more about the “gender gap” in lifespan, found that Irish men take years off their lives because they drink more than women and because a higher proportion of men smoke.

“The gap in mortality rates between men and women in Ireland is less than that for many other countries,” said chief researcher Dr Gerry McCartney, a public health specialist in Glasgow.

“However, 19pc is accounted for by higher alcohol-related deaths among men. And 55pc of the gap is accounted for by smoking-related deaths among men.”

Deaths from all causes were higher for men than for women in the study but the amount by which they were higher varied.


This ranged from 188 per 100,000 of the population a year in Iceland to 942 per 100,000 in Ukraine. The rate in Ireland is 257 per 100,000.

The reason women in developed European countries outlive men has been hotly contested, the study published in the journal ‘Tobacco Control’ pointed out.

“The gender gap in death rates has sometimes been put down to simple biology, or the fact that women seek out health care more readily than men,” Dr McCartney said.

But the magnitude and variability of the trends suggests a rather more complex picture.

There was an eight-fold difference between the country with the lowest male death rate attributable to alcohol –Iceland at 29 per 100,000 — and that with the highest — Lithuania at 253 per 100,000.

Overall, the proportion of deaths attributable to alcohol ranged from 20pc to 30pc.

But despite large gender differences in alcohol consumption across Europe and the huge variation in alcohol related deaths, these were significantly lower than deaths caused by smoking.

There was a fivefold difference between countries with the lowest male death rates (Iceland at 97 per 100,000) attributable to smoking and those with the highest (Ukraine at 495 per 100,000). The rate for Ireland is 141 per 100,000.

But smoking was behind 40pc to 60pc of the gender gap in all countries, except Denmark, Portugal and France, where it was lower, and Malta where it was much higher (74pc).


Source: Irish Independent, 18/01/11
Journalist: Eilish O’Regan, Health Correspondent