Cancer and strokes give Irish women worst health in EU

Claire Murphy

IRISH women have one of the worst health records in Europe with huge numbers affected by heart disease, cancers and strokes.

Females from Ireland are more likely to die from preventable diseases than their counterparts in Europe.

And researchers put this down to high alcohol and cigarette consumption among women here.

However, Irish men are much closer to the EU average, the new study from the EU/OECD has found.

Despite this poor ranking, Ireland is listed near the top in terms of spending on health. This figure was listed until 2010 -- but spending has been reduced since that date.

The number of Irish women dying from the preventable disease of cervical cancer actually increased in the period.

And the death rate for breast cancer is the third highest in the EU. Despite the improved screening regime, this figure is the same as 10 years ago.

Researchers say that risks are increased due to family history, oestrogen replacement therapy and alcohol intake.

More Irish women are admitted to hospital with chronic obstructive pulmonary lung diseases than their European sisters -- reflecting the fact that more Irish women smoke cigarettes than females in the rest of the EU.

Ireland is the only country in Europe aside from Greece where more women die from strokes than men.

And our obesity levels are not much better. A quarter of all Irish women are obese, which equates to the third highest in the EU.

In general, women in the EU regard themselves as healthy or very healthy.

Across all ages in all countries, the most frequent causes of death among women are diseases of the circulatory system, accounting for 43pc of all deaths, and cancer, which accounts for 26pc of these.

Suicide and accidents account for 5pc of the deaths.

Cancer, specifically 'female cancers', such as breast and cervical cancer, is the main cause of death for women aged 35-64 years.