These Are The 10 Biggest Killers Of Australian Men

These are the 10 biggest killers of Australian men

For Men’s Health Week 2024, we’re taking a look at the leading causes of death in Australian men – which are largely preventable with the occasional health check and a few lifestyle changes

JUNE 10TH-16TH IS International Men’s Health Week. This year marks 30 years since the first edition of the week, and this year, the focus is on health checks. The thinking behind the theme is that men need to be more proactive about their health because, for the most part, the leading causes of death can be better treated and even prevented if they’re detected early. However, the data shows that not enough men take their health seriously.

Across their lifespans, Australian men, on average, have poorer overall health than women. Multiple factors need to be accounted for to explain this, but seeking out medical help less often is a crucial indicator. A study published in BMC Public Health showed that men only make up 43 per cent of visits to GPs, while government statistics indicate that men utilise an average of 14 Medicare services per year compared to 19.5 for women.

On the surface, adopting a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to health may seem inconsequential, but it’s rooted in deep cultural stigma, under which men are expected to be strong and play down their potential health risks. You likely don’t need us to tell you that this approach can have disastrous consequences, but in case you need a refresher on the issues you should be looking out for and how you can minimise your risk, we’re breaking down the 10 biggest killers of Australian men.

We’re using the most recent available dataset, which was released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at the end of 2023 and covers deaths in the year 2022. Read on for the full breakdown, and take your health seriously.

What are the leading causes of death in Australian men?

 

10. Suicide

In 2022, 3,249 Australians took their own lives, with 75 per cent of that total being men. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australian men between the ages of 15 and 44, and it has the lowest median age of any cause of death on this list, at 45.6. As the statistics prove, looking after your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Mental health support is available at various organisations. Beyond Blue offers free, 24/7 support for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. For more urgent support, Lifeline Australia is available 24/7 to call at 13 11 14, or text at 0477 13 11 14.

9. Bowel cancer

There were 5,350 total deaths from bowel cancer in 2022, and in what is a recurring trend in the leading causes of death in Australia, more men die from it than women. Bowel cancer can affect the colon or rectum and typically develops as result of obesity, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption, or due to a poor diet that is low in fibre and high in red meat. The risk of bowel cancer increases in people over the age of 50 and the Australian government recommends that anyone over the age of 45 take an at-home screening test every two years.

8. Diabetes

Among men, annual deaths relating to diabetes have hovered around 3,500 per year for the last five years or so. Again, more men die from diabetes than women. There may be no way to prevent type 1 diabetes (and only 4.2 per cent of diabetes-related deaths involve type 1), but type 2 diabetes is mostly preventable. By maintaining a healthy weight, living an active lifestyle, eating healthy and avoiding smoking, you can drastically reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

7. Prostate cancer

As a cancer that only affects those with a prostate, all 3,507 deaths from prostate cancer in 2022 were men. Australia does not have a national screening program for the early detection of prostate cancer, as the treatment can lead to side effects that reduce quality of life and because those diagnosed with a slow-growing cancer can often live for more than ten years without immediate treatment. Although the Cancer Council recommends taking a blood screening test every two years after the age of 50.

Leading Causes of death

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6. Chronic lower respiratory diseases

Chronic lower respiratory diseases, which include bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, resulted in 8,580 Australian deaths in 2022. Smoking is the most common cause, but air pollution, allergens and occupational risks can also produce lower respiratory diseases. To prevent an early death at the hands of a chronic lower respiratory disease, the best advice is to stop smoking and get plenty of clean air.

5. Cerebrovascular (brain) diseases, including stroke

In 2022, 4,316 Australian men died from some form of cerebrovascular disease – which is any condition that affects blood flow to the brain. Men actually die from cerebrovascular diseases at lower rates than women, a rarity among the leading causes of death in Australia. Cerebrovascular diseases have relatively low long-term survival rates at around 58 per cent, so taking preventative measures to protect yourself beforehand is your best option. That means living a healthy lifestyle with a good diet, plenty of exercise and minimal alcohol and tobacco consumption.

4. Lung cancer

Government reports indicate that 5,145 Australian men died from lung cancer in 2022 and that over 1,000 more men died from lung cancer than women, which shouldn’t be too surprising. Smoking rates are higher among men and smoking cigarettes is the biggest risk factor in developing lung cancer. And with the recent rise in vapes, we’d expect these numbers to climb. Our advice on avoiding lung cancer? Stop smoking. For expert support and advice, you can call Quitline at 13 78 48.

3. COVID-19

A total of 5,484 Australian men died from COVID-19 in 2022. Again, this was over 1,000 more than women. Fatalities resulting from COVID-19 are more common among older demographics, but anyone can be at risk. The COVID-19 pandemic may be over, but new strains and potential dangers are still emerging. To protect yourself, vaccination is the best way to go. Although, the government no longer recommends bi-annual boosters unless you’re over the age of 75.

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2. Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease was the leading cause of death among Australian women in 2022, with nearly 11,000 total deaths. Men’s deaths were comparatively minor, with 6,130. While there is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there are treatments that can slow their progression, which is why it’s important that they’re detected early. Otherwise, staying physically and mentally active while avoiding smoking and alcohol can significantly lower your risk.

1. Heart disease

By quite a wide margin, heart disease was the leading cause of death for Australian men in 2022, with 11,303 deaths accounting for 11.3 per cent of total fatalities. While they can be genetic, the biggest risk factors involving heart diseases are largely behavioural and lifestyle-related. Physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity, and excessive smoking and drinking all heighten your risk of developing a heart disease. So, to lower your risk, live healthily.

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By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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