France Has More Early Deaths Than Britain

Copyright 1998 British Medical Journal
British Medical Journal (February 7, 1998)

In France premature male mortality from lung cancer, which 20 years ago was half the British rate, was about 40% higher than in Britain by 1994.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that deaths from lung cancer before the age of 65 have steadily declined in Britain over recent years owing to a change in smoking patterns. The female rate remains far lower in France than in Britain, but it has doubled in France in 20 years.

A comparison of the two countries shows that France has high early mortality compared with Britain. Premature deaths from alcoholism and cirrhosis have fallen in France over the past 20 years but are still one of the main causes of premature death for men. Male mortality from this cause in Britain has risen over the past 15 years, and yet the rate in France is still three times higher.

The rates for women are also higher in France than in Britain, but for both countries these are lower than the rates for men.

The main cause of premature male deaths in Britain is heart disease, despite the significant decrease in mortality from this cause. In Britain there were 70.8 deaths per 100,000 population in 1994 - three times higher than in France which had a rate of 22.2 deaths per 100,000.

Breast cancer is one of the primary causes of premature female mortality in both countries. While this has generally been falling slowly in Britain over the last two decades, in 1994 it was still slightly higher than the French rate, which has remained fairly steady for fifteen years.

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