The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report reviewed a range of diseases that can be prevented or controlled through lifestyle factors. The Institute examined 12 chronic illnesses that are found to be overburdening Australia's health system.
The study found a downtrend in heart attacks and death due to heart diseases. A 32 per cent decrease in heart diseases was seen among males between 1994 and 2005. In the same period there was a 34 per cent decline for women. "There is no doubt that the incidence of heart attacks and deaths after heart attacks are trending downwards and daily smoking rates continue to decline so that, currently, under 20 per cent of adults smoke daily," lead author of the report Ilona Brockway said.
However, the study points to an increase in bowel cancer in recent years. Recent figures show that bowel cancer is the second highest cancer in Australia.
Ilona Brockway said the upward trend in bowel cancer rates might be due to the increased ability to screen for the disease. "But lifestyle behaviors like alcohol intake, obesity also play a part in that," she said.
Fresh concern has emerged that the rate of lung cancer amongst women has increased since 1982. Only 14 per cent of women survive beyond five years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
"In the last four years a plateau in incidence rates can be observed," the study said. The study called for further exploration in that area.
The report showed a gap between the health of indigenous and non- indigenous Australians as always.
It was also observed that people picked up more chronic illnesses as they grew older. 66% of adult Australians did not pay enough attention to exercsing according to the report.
The report should be useful to governments and policy makers to check whether their bealth programs are procucing the desired results.