Life expectancy gap growing between rich/poor world women: WHO

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Posted on September 5, 2013

Life expectancy for women at 50 has improved, but the gap between poor and rich countries is growing and could worsen without better detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

A WHO study, one of the first to analyze the causes of death of older women, found that in wealthier countries deaths from noncommunicable diseases has fallen dramatically in recent decades, especially from cancers of the stomach, colon, breast and cervix.

Women over 50 in low and middle-income countries are also living longer, but chronic ailments, including diabetes, kill them at an earlier age than their counterparts, it said.

“The gap in life expectancy between such women in rich and poor countries is growing,” said the WHO study, part of an issue of the WHO’s monthly bulletin devoted to women’s health.

There is a similar growing gap between the life expectancy of men over 50 in rich and lower income countries and in some parts of the world, this gap is wider, WHO officials said.

“More women can expect to live longer and not just survive child birth and childhood. But what we found is that improvement is much stronger in the rich world than in the poor world. The disparity between the two is increasing,” Dr. John Beard, director of WHO’s department of ageing and life course, said in an interview at WHO headquarters.

Read more at MedlinePlus