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Twenty-first century male life expectancy up 2.8 years

The MHF has welcomed the increase in male life expectancy announced in the latest National Statistics. But warned that this does not tell the whole story.

The figures show that life expectancy at birth in England reached 78.4 years for men and 82.4 years for women in 2008-10. For men, this is an increase of 2.8 years since 1999-01. Female life expectancy increased by 2 years over the same period. As the National Statistics Mortality Monitoring Bulletin puts it: 'Life expectancy is higher for females than for males, although the improvement over the ten years to 2008-10 was greater for males than females, so the gender difference has narrowed.'

However, MHF CEO Peter Baker warned that the headline figures mask some serious causes for concern. 'While there are clearly some improvements for men,' he said. 'There are still huge problems, not least in respect of the inequalities that exist between different groups of men and the growing problems for men in respect of certain conditions auch as diabetes, obesity and melanoma.'

The widening wealth divide in England is reflected in a widening health divide, particularly for women. The gap in male life expectancy between the national average and those in the poorest areas (the so called Spearhead Group) is 2.1 years - down on recent years but up from the 1.9 year gap seen as recently as 2000-02. For women the divide is 1.7 years (up from 1.4 in 1995-7). Remember this is the gap between the poorest and the average not between richest and poorest.

Suicide rates no longer falling

The fall in suicide rates seems to have ended. But, despite the economic crisis, rates have not increased either. Rates for both males and females have shown a similar trend over the ten years to 2008-10, initially decreasing but remaining broadly unchanged over the last three years. The males rate remains consistently at least three times that for females. For 2008-10, the suicide and undetermined injury mortality rate for Engalnd was 12.2 deaths per 100,000 population for males. For females, the rate was 3.7 deaths per 100,000.

The Mortality Monitoring Bulletin notes that 'suicide mortality rates for recent years may be affected by the increase in the use of narrative verdicts by coroners. This may lead to some deaths being classified as accidental when they are more likely to be intentional, resulting in underestimation of the suicide rate. However, a review by ONS concluded that the impact on the England and Wales suicide rate up to 2009 had not been statistically significant.'

Perhaps the best news for men comes in the accidents statistics. The data for 2008-10 show that the accident mortality rate for England fell by 2.8% on 2007-09, mainly due to a fall in the rate for males. However, the accident mortality for females remains consistently less than half the rate for males. In 2008-10 the rates were 20.4 deaths per 100,000 population for males and 10.1 deaths per 100,000 for females.

The general trend in life expectancy is reflected in the mortality figures from cancer. While the cancer mortality rate is lower for females than for males (99.3 deaths per 100,000 for females compared with 121.9 deaths per 100,000 for males in 2008-10), the improvement in the mortality rate over the ten years to 2008-10 is greater for males than for females (a decrease of 15.7% since 1999-01 for males compared with 13.5% for females).

Mortality rates from circulatory disease -  heart problems and the like - are well down. In 2008-10, the rate in England was 95.2 deaths per 100,000 population for males, a decrease of 40.6% since 1999-01. However, again the circulatory diseases mortality rate for females remains consistently less than half the rate for males over the ten year period to 2008-10.

Page created on October 31st, 2011

Page updated on October 31st, 2011