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Certain groups of Australian males are at higher risk of poor health than other males, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The health of Australia’s males: a focus on five population groups, was launched today at the Murrumbateman Men’s Shed by the Minister for Indigenous Health, the Honourable Warren Snowdon MP. The event was held as part of Men’s Health Week.

The report examines the health of Australian men in different population groups, characterised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, remoteness, socioeconomic disadvantage, region of birth and age.

‘It shows that these factors can affect health for both better and worse,’ said AIHW CEO and Director David Kalisch.  

‘For example, the life expectancy among Indigenous males is 67 years—11.5 years less than their non-Indigenous counterparts.’

Factors that contribute to this poorer health status include higher rates of chronic diseases (such as lung cancer, diabetes and kidney disease) and health conditions that are uncommon in the general population (such as scabies, trachoma and acute rheumatic fever).

Males in remote areas also generally have shorter life expectancy and poorer self-assessed health status. As remoteness increases, so too do several health-related factors, including rates of obesity, tobacco smoking and risky alcohol consumption. Males in remote areas also have more new cases of lung cancer, hospitalisations for Type 2 diabetes, and deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and suicide.

Rates of obesity and tobacco smoking among men also increase with socioeconomic disadvantage, as do new cases of lung cancer, hospitalisations for Type 2 diabetes and deaths from coronary heart disease, lung cancer, coronary obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and suicide.

In contrast, the report shows that some population groups enjoy better health in some areas.

Males born overseas have fewer risk factors and lower overall mortality and hospitalisations compared with males born in Australia, and older males (aged 65 and over) are living longer than ever before, and have fewer risk factors such as overweight/obesity and tobacco smoking than younger males.

‘However, overseas born males have lower rates of physical activity and bowel cancer screening, higher rates of lung cancer and hospitalisations for Type 2 diabetes and heart attack, and more deaths from diabetes and lung cancer. And as age increases males are at greater risk of bowel cancer, melanoma, dementia and injury from falls,’ Mr Kalisch said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 13 June 2012

Further information: Nigel Harding, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1025, mob. 0409 307 671

Full report: The health of Australia’s males: a focus on five population groups