Irish women have worst health record in EU

The health of Irish women is among the worst in the EU, with far higher rates of death from strokes, heart attacks and cancers.

Irish women are far more likely to die from preventable diseases than women in other countries, according to the latest EU/OECD study. Irish men, on the other hand, are much closer to the EU average.

The report also shows Ireland was among the top spenders on health up to 2010, but reduced health funding in 2010 by more than any other country. Further cuts are due in next month’s budget.

Despite having a large health budget, survival rates for some cancers and heart attacks did not improve as much in Ireland as they did in other countries. The outcomes for women in particular fell behind both men and women elsewhere.

Ireland is the only country apart from Greece where more women than men die from strokes.

While deaths from cervical cancer decreased in every other country apart from Greece, the number of Irish women dying from this preventable disease actually increased.

For cancers in general, Irish women are far more likely to die than many of their sisters in the rest of the EU, with the fourth highest rate of deaths. Irish men fared comparatively better, coming 22nd in the EU list of 27.

The death rate from breast cancer in 2010 was the third highest in the EU — the same ranking as 10 years ago. The risk factors include family history, oestrogen replacement therapy and alcohol.

The picture is similar for deaths from lung cancer, with Irish women having the fifth highest incidence in the EU, while Irish men rank 20th out of the 27 member states.

More Irish women are admitted to hospital with chronic obstructive pulmonary lung diseases, that include emphysema and chronic bronchitis, reflecting the fact that more Irish women smoke cigarettes than females in the rest of the EU.

A quarter of Irish women are obese, the third highest in the EU, while increased alcohol consumption among women over the last three decades has contributed to a 25% increase overall, the second highest in the EU.

* See the full report at:

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