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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 12:51 GMT
Big increase in cirrhosis deaths
Smoking and drinking may have contributed to rising death rates for some conditions
Smoking and drinking may have contributed to rising death rates for some conditions
Death rates linked to liver diseases have dramatically increased over the last 20 years, figures out on Tuesday show.

Deaths linked to cirrhosis and related diseases of the liver rose by 121% for men and 68% for women between 1980-82 and 2000, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figures are published just days after the Chief Medical Officer for England warned deaths from cirrhosis were increasing sharply in women after having increased in men for some time.

The ONS figures for England and Wales also show skin cancer rates increased in both sexes, with a rise of 74% in the death rate amongst men, and 38% amongst women.

Women are dying more from cancers linked to smoking than men, the figures show.

While male deaths from cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung fell by 41% between 1980-82 and 2000, the female rate rose by 23% over the same period.

Cancer 'biggest killer'

However, the overall death rate has fallen by 3.7%, from 556,118 in 1999 to 535,664 in 2000.

The main causes of death were cancer - 25%, ischaemic heart disease - 20%, respiratory disease - 17%, and cerbrovascular disease (including stroke) - 10%.

Death rates have also fallen over the last 20 years, when changes in the age structure of the population are taken into account, said the ONS.

In 2000, the crude death rate was 9.8 deaths per 1,000 for men and 10.5 per 1,000 for women.

That is a fall of 31% for men and 23% for women, according to the ONS.

Smoking link

Some conditions showed a significant decline in death rates.

Rates for ischaemic heart disease have fallen by 45% for men and 40% for women over the last 20 years.

Death rates for cerbrovascular disease, including stroke, have fallen by 46% for men, and 41% for women.

And stomach cancer has declined by 52% and 57% for men and women respectively.

A spokesman for the Cancer Research Campaign said: "Smoking prevalence in men has been in steady decline since the 1950s, while in women it has increased.

"Lung cancer incidence and mortality has always been greater in men. This is a reflection of the fact that, historically, larger proportions of men smoked than women and it is estimated that around 90% of cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking.

"Lung cancer often develops after many years of smoking, so the trends in smoking take many years to be reflected in the incidence of lung cancer. This is why we are now seeing a drop for men and an increase for women."

See also:

10 Dec 01 | Health
Death warning to young drinkers
09 Nov 00 | Health
Cancer: Number one killer
23 Aug 01 | Health
'Lowest ever' infant death rate
31 Aug 01 | Health
Cancer menace on the rise
08 Mar 00 | Health
Why alcohol acts faster on women
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