Sunderland men pay the price for unhealthy living

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NORTH East health campaigners have spoken of their concern after a report revealed drinking, obesity and smoking made men more than a third more likely to die from cancer than women.

The stark contrast between the sexes is revealed in the latest survival figures from 2010.

In that year, nationally, 202 men per 100,000 died from cancer compared with 147 women per 100,000, a 35 per cent difference.

When gender-specific diseases, such as prostate and breast cancer, were excluded, men were 67 per cent more likely to die.

The figures also showed that liver cancer death rates were twice as high in men, who also faced triple the risk of being killed by oesophageal cancer, with both forms of the illness linked to excessive alcohol consumption.

Colin Shevills, director at Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “Alcohol is one of the most common causes of preventable death and is linked to more than 60 medical conditions including heart disease, stroke and cancers.

“Alcohol is the second biggest cause of cancer in people over 35 after smoking and can lead to breast, liver, throat, stomach, mouth and bowel cancer.

“Essentially, the more you drink the higher the risk.

“We need to ensure that people understand the implications of drinking too much too often so they can make informed choices when it comes to alcohol and consumption. It’s possible for alcohol to be enjoyed, but it’s important not to take it to the extreme or drink over the recommended limits regularly.

“The effects of alcohol can be devastating but a large proportion of people here in the North East continue to drink at or above the recommended limits.

“Here in the North East almost a third of females and almost half of males are consuming at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis. This could be storing up future health problems.”

The difference may partly be explained by men developing hard-to-treat cancers such as those affecting the bladder, oesophagus and liver, according to the charity Cancer Research UK, which produced the figures.

Each year around 82,500 men in the UK lose their lives to cancer, making it the leading cause of death in the male population.

The findings were presented at the Men’s Health Forum conference in London.

A second report, presented at the same meeting by Cancer Research UK, showed that smoking remains the largest preventable cause of cancer in men, leading to 36,500 cases of new disease each year.

After smoking, being overweight, drinking alcohol and poor diet are the most important cancer risk factors for men.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, the North East Smoke Free campaign group, said: “Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death, which includes cancer, that we have in the North East.

“Quitting might not always feel easy, but a cancer diagnosis is much, much harder.

“Most smokers start by the age of 15 and the earlier in life you start, the greater the chance of developing a disease like lung cancer from middle age.

“While these rates may show cancer rates overall are higher among men, what is worrying is that we are gradually now seeing more and more women developing lung cancers due to more women taking up smoking in the 1960s and 1970s.

“The good news is that more people are quitting smoking than ever before and hopefully in the future, we can reduce the burden of smoking-related cancer for our children’s generation.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho