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The Greeks do not Drink, but Smoke, they Rarely Get Cancer, but More Often Die from Heart Attacks and Strokes

13 July 2014 / 19:07:06  GRReporter
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It is not by chance that Greece lags behind other Mediterranean countries in terms of life expectancy. Furthermore, the disease rate is expected to increase rapidly from 2016 onwards. Inadequate prevention policies and questionable allocation of huge resources in certain sectors, such as medical products, mean that health quality indicators have remained unchanged in the last twelve years. The consolation is that Greece has the lowest cancer mortality and low levels of alcohol consumption.

This information became evident from the recent report issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, where the indicators of 34 countries have been assessed, Greece included.

The report shows that Greece is approximately midway in life expectancy and health expenditure as a percentage of GDP. Comparison to the countries from the Organisation makes the picture even more complex. However, when compared with other southern European countries,  the picture of the health of the Greek population and the actual progress or deterioration becomes clear.

The average life expectancy of the Greeks, which in the 1970s was among the highest in Europe, has given way to 20th place among the 34 countries, part of the Organisation. With 80.7 years of life expectancy, Greece ranks after Spain (82.5) and Italy (82.3). Greeks' life expectancy is slightly higher than that in Portugal (80.5). In 2000, Portugal was far behind Greece with 76.9 years of life expectancy. Within 12 years, the Portuguese life expectancy has increased by 3.6 years, compared to an increase of 2.5 years for Greece.

Mortality from heart attacks and strokes in Greece is at record levels with 343.6 deaths per 100,000 population, or 35,000 deaths per year. A lot fewer are the deaths in Portugal due to the same reasons (200.7 cases per 100,000) as well as in Spain (204.3 100,000).

These countries have shown marked improvement as regards deaths from cardiovascular diseases with a reduction of up to 40%. A reduction of 35% has been achieved by Greece too, but in 2000 it marked a very high mortality in regard to the above mentioned diseases (532.8) compared with the other southern countries, and there is still a lot to do in that respect. The reason for the insufficient progress of Greece lies in the high percentage of smokers who smoke regularly. Smokers account for 33% of the adult population, which makes Greece last in the Organisation (the average rate is 20.7%). Better ranked are Portugal, where smokers are 18.8%, Italy (22.1%) and Spain (23.9%).

According to the experts, the number of adult smokers has declined significantly over the past two decades in most countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, but not in Greece.

Further solid evidence for the reasons that have led to the current situation is obesity. Regarding this risk factor, Greece ranks first among the Mediterranean countries, with 19.6% of the population having serious problems in terms of weight. The rates are only 10.4% in Italy, 15.4% in Portugal and 16.6% in Spain respectively.

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