My role


Men are a generation behind women

European men still do not live as long as women did in 1980.

According to the 2012 European health report, the flagship publication of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, issued every three years, people in the European region live longer and healthier lives than ever before but there is a 7.5 year gap between the life expectancy of men and women.

In other words, men are a full generation or more behind women in life-expectancy - 1980 was the year John Lennon was shot (remember where you were when you heard?), Margaret Thatcher was a new and insecure prime minister and a pint of beer was 35p. A long time ago.

Dr Ritu Sadana, editor-in-chief of the report, said: ‘A major success for the European region is that life expectancy has increased by five years since 1980, reaching 76 years in 2010. But the downside is that the benefit is not equally shared across countries. Men are lagging behind women in life expectancy by an entire generation. In 2010, men had not yet reached the average level that women enjoyed in 1980.’

The research, comparing figures from nearly 900 million people in 53 countries, reports a fundamental and persistent inequality between life expectancy at birth for men and women.

Whilst life expectancy increased by five years since 1980 thanks to better control over communicable diseases, reduced premature mortality and improvements in living conditions and health services, women reached on average 80 years in 2010 and men only 72.8 years. The study puts this gap across all 53 countries down to lifestyle and occupational differences between the genders. Figures for the UK show an average life expectancy of 82.5 years for women and 78.5 years for men in 2010.

Boozing and smoking are main risks

Tobacco and harmful alcohol use are the leading health risk factors. According to the study, alcohol consumption in Europe is the highest in the world, accounting for about 6.5 % of all deaths. Among the estimated 27% of the European population aged 15 years or over, who are smoking tobacco regularly, the smoking prevalence among men is twice as high as among women.

The research also reports higher rates of diseases of the circulatory system among men, accounting for 50% of deaths in the region. 80% of deaths are caused by noncommunicable diseases, 20% by cancer, which has replaced cardiovascular diseases as the leading cause of premature death in 28 of the 53 countries.

Alan White, chair of the Men’s Health Forum, said: ‘That many men's life expectancy is still below that seen in women in the 1980's reinforces the need for the health of men to be seen as a high priority for public health policy, practice and research. It is imperative that we find ways of helping to reduce needless deaths in our young men. It is very encouraging that the WHO has made this statement and it is hoped that this indicates they are going to have a stronger focus on men's health.’

Page created on March 14th, 2013

Page updated on April 15th, 2013