New data: 10 surprising facts about men’s health in Australia

The Australian Institute Of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published its latest reports on the health of Australian males and females. The reports confirm that men die younger than women, experience a greater burden of disease and are more likely to die from potentially avoidable causes. 

Here we present 10 surprising facts about men's health drawn from the AIHW's research. Copies to the full reports are provided at the bottom of the page.

1: BOYS BORN TODAY WILL DIE 4 YEARS YOUNGER THAN GIRLS

Boys born in 2015-2017 will die 4.1 years younger than girls on average. This compares with a current mortality gap, which shows that men who die today, die 6 years younger than women on average.

2: MEN AND BOYS ACCOUNT FOR 3 IN 5 AVOIDABLE DEATHS 

More than 6 out of 10 (62%) of people who die prematurely in Australia are male. In major cities 50% of those premature male deaths are potentially avoidable compare with very remote areas where 64% of male deaths are potentially avoidable.

3: MEN AND BOYS EXPERIENCE A GREATER BURDEN OF DISEASE 

The “burden of disease” is a measure that quantifies the health impact of disease on a population in a given year—both from dying early and from living with disease and injury. In 2011, males experienced a greater share of the total disease burden (54%) than females.

Find out more about Creating a Healthier Future for Men and Boys.

4: THE RATE OF DEATH BY HEART DISEASE IS NEARLY TWICE AS HIGH IN MEN

The leading cause of death in Australian males in 2016 was coronary heart disease which now kills nearly 30 men (29.8) and more than 20 women (22.5) a day. Men are more likely than women to die from coronary heart disease at a younger age, which means that the rate of death from coronary heart disease is nearly twice as high in males than females, when adjusted for differences in the age structure of the populations.

5: THE RATE OF DEATH BY LUNG CANCER IS NEARLY TWICE AS HIGH IN MEN

In 2017, it is estimated males will account for 54% of all new cancer cases (72,169 cases). The risk for Australian males (and females) being diagnosed with cancer before their 85th birthday is one in two.

The most common cancer diagnosis in males is prostate cancer, followed by bowel cancer, skin cancer and lung cancer. When compared with female cancer:

  • Men and boys experience 56% of the disease burden linked to cancer
  • Prostate cancer in men caused 3,248 deaths in 2016, breast cancer in women caused 2,976 deaths
  • Men are 25% more likely to die from bowel cancer than women
  • The rate of death from lung cancer is nearly twice as high in men 

6: 2 IN 5 MEN EXPERIENCE VIOLENCE IN ADULTHOOD 

Exposure to violence is a known risk factor that may increase the likelihood of poor health.  Men are more likely than women to be exposed to violence. More than 1 in 3 Australian women and more than 2 in 5 men have experienced violence since they turned 15. 

In 2016, for men and women aged 18 or over: 31% of women and 41% of men who had experienced physical violence say they have experienced violence since the age of 15. 

7: 7 OUT OF 10 OLDER MEN SAY THEIR HEALTH ISN'T VERY GOOD

Self-assessed health status is a measure of health status, combining physical, social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing.

In 2014–15, 55% of males aged 15 and over rated their health as excellent or very good, with 45% rating their health lower than very good. For women the figure was 58% (very good/excellent) and 42% (not very good). The figures vary with age, 1 in 3 (36%) young men aged 15–34 and 7 out of 10 older men say their health isn’t very good.

8: 7 IN 10 MEN ARE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE 

Men in Australia are more likely to be overweight or obese than women in Australia. In 2014–15, 71% of men in and 56% of women were overweight or obese.  While a similar proportion of women (27%) and men (28%) are obese, there is a marked difference in the proportion of men (42%) and women (29%) who are overweight.

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See the healthy weight guide for more information.

9: 1 IN 4 MEN IS A RISKY DRINKER

According to the AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey, one in four men (24%) are lifetime risky drinkers compared with one in 10 women (10%).

Excessive alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for a variety of health problems, including liver and heart conditions, and poor mental health. It also contributes to accident and injury, such as motor vehicle accidents, physical violence and homicide.

10: 1 IN 2 MEN HAVE EXPERIENCED A MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM 

In 2007, more than 3.8 million (48%) males 3.4 million (43%) females aged 16–85 had experienced a mental health disorder in their lifetime. 22% of females and 18% of males aged 16–85 experienced symptoms of a mental health disorder in the 12 months. Men and boys experience 52% of the disease burden linked to mental and substance abuse disorders. 

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