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A new report released today by the Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare (AIHW), examines levels of death and disability
from a variety of diseases, injuries and health risks to determine
the total 'burden of disease' in Australia.
The report, The burden of disease and injury in Australia
2003, showed that cancer (19%) and cardiovascular disease
(18%) were the two leading causes of the burden of disease in
'Cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease as the leading
cause of burden, largely because of Australia's success in reducing
the burden of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease burden
rates dropped by 35% in the 10 years prior to 2003,' said John Goss
of the AIHW's Economics and Health Services Group.
'Burden of disease analysis goes beyond the mortality impact of
a disease, as it also looks at the impact of illness and
disability. This non-fatal burden (the amount of healthy life years
lost due to disability from disease and injury) made up 51% of the
total,' he said.
The five leading causes of non-fatal burden of disease were
anxiety and depression (14% of the non-fatal burden), Type 2
diabetes (8%), dementia (5%), adult-onset hearing loss (5%) and
For those 75 years and over, the leading causes of non-fatal
burden were dementia (23%), ischemic heart disease (8%), Type 2
diabetes (7%) and adult-onset hearing loss (5%).
'With the ageing of Australia's population, more people will
have diseases more common in older ages - diseases such as
dementia, heart disease, and hearing and vision loss, all of which
will increase demand for care services.
Of the 14 preventable health risks examined in the report,
tobacco was responsible for the greatest burden (7.8% of the total
burden) in Australia.
Other leading risks in 2003 were high blood pressure (7.6% of
the total burden), high body mass (7.5%), physical inactivity
(6.6%) and high blood cholesterol (6.2%).
Alcohol, low fruit & vegetable consumption, illicit drugs,
occupational exposures & hazards, intimate partner violence,
child sexual abuse, urban air pollution, unsafe sex and
osteoporosis were also risk factors.
These 14 risks together accounted for 32% of the total burden of
disease and injury in 2003.
The report also showed that a strong upsurge in the number of
people with diabetes is likely, mostly due to higher levels of
'Paradoxically, it is the success of the health system in
improving survival that will mean an increased risk of people
developing other largely non-fatal but disabling consequences of
diabetes,' Mr Goss said.
The report, prepared primarily by the University of Queensland
with input from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, is
the first complete assessment of the health of Australians to be
released in the new millennium, and significantly expands the scope
of the first burden of disease study released by the Institute in
25 May 2007
Further information: Mr John Goss, AIHW, tel.
02 6244 1151 or mob. 0402 346 379
For media copies of the report: Publications
Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.
Availability: Check the AIHW Publications
Catalogue for availability of The burden of
disease and injury in Australia 2003.