Public health programmes increase life span

The government’s ambitious public health programmes have helped significantly improve overall life expectancy within Britain and reduce mortality, a report by two independent watchdogs has concluded.

Between 1996 and 2006, the number of premature deaths among under-75s from circulatory diseases fell 45% and those from cancer dropped 15%, according to the report by the Healthcare Commission and Audit Commission.

There have also been advances in tackling smoking and improving sexual health, although these are two areas where health inequalities remain significant, it found.

Although smoking remains England’s single greatest cause of preventable illness and early death, the number of people who smoke has fallen considerably in recent years, with 400,000 people estimated to have given up smoking since the ban on smoking in public places was introduced. However, deaths associated with alcohol consumption have risen.

In men, the death rate doubled from 9.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1991 to 18.3 in 2006. For women, the rate increased from 5.0 to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 over the same period, a rise of around 80%, the report found.

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