Tuesday, September 19, 2006

rural vs urban health

CBC reports today on a study that says that urban dwellers live longer than rural folk.

After being told for years that people living in the country / rural areas tend to be healthier, CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corp - for you non-Canadians] reports on this study:
Death rates higher for rural Canadians: report
CBC News
Canadians living in rural areas face higher death rates than city dwellers, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported Tuesday.

The report records 792 deaths per 100,000 in smaller towns and villages, compared with 668 per 100,000 in urban areas.

"Higher overall mortality rates among rural communities seem to be driven by higher death rates from causes such as circulatory diseases and injuries," said study author Marie DesMeules.

Rural residents also had higher risks of dying from respiratory disease, diabetes and suicide, the report said.

For men, life expectancy at birth was generally lower in rural areas at 74 years, compared with urban areas at 76.8 years. Women in both areas live to the same age on average, ranging from 81.3 to 81.5 years.

Cardiovascular disease risk factors such as obesity and smoking were also higher among rural residents.

Among rural Canadians, 57 per cent reported being overweight or obese, compared with 47 per cent in cities.

Part of the problem is that parents may not recognize that their children have a weight problem, said Dr. Rhonda Church, a rural family physician and president of Doctors Nova Scotia.

The higher cost of buying healthy food and accessing physical activity in rural areas also pose challenges, Church said.

About 32 per cent of rural Canadians in the study were smokers, compared with 25 per cent in urban areas.
Cancer rates
Rural Canadians were less likely to be diagnosed with a new case of most cancers than city dwellers.

But the incidence and mortality rates for cervical cancer were higher for women living in rural areas, compared with urban women in the same age group.

The five-year survival rate for cervical cancer is more than 90 per cent with early detection, but fewer rural women had a Pap test in the previous three years, the report's authors found.

"I think one challenge in rural areas is you know every physician in town, and so it's an embarrassing procedure to have," Church told CBC Newsworld.

Women who are past reproductive age are another challenge to reach, Church said, since they tend not to come in for exams as often as younger women who are having children or want contraception.

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