While overall there has been an increase in life expectancy for all Australians over the past century, rates of mortality among men are still higher than mortality among women, and have not improved to the same degree as mortality among women.9
At all ages men experience higher mortality rates then women in suicide, accidents and injury. As men age they have higher mortality rates than women for cancers, diabetes mellitus, and diseases of the circulatory system.
For men the highest proportion of total disease burden attributed to determinants of health in 2003 were tobacco smoking (9.6%), high blood pressure (7.8%), overweight/obesity (7.7%), high blood cholesterol (6.6%), physical inactivity (6.4%) and alcohol (3.8%).9
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men: The situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men is worse than for the rest of the population. Between 1995 and 1997 more than half (53%) of the deaths of Indigenous men were of men aged less than 50 years. This contrasts with deaths in the population of the remainder of Australian men most of whom (75%) die at more than 65 years of age.10
The five leading causes of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in 2001–2005 were diseases of the circulatory system, external causes (predominantly accidents, intentional self-harm and assault), cancers, endocrine, metabolic and nutritional disorders (mainly diabetes), and respiratory diseases. Deaths due to these causes accounted for over 80% of all deaths in Indigenous men.11
9 AIHW, 2007, GRIM (General Record of Incidence of Mortality) Books, AIHW, Canberra
10 Wennitong, M, 2002, Indigenous Male Health, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra
11 AIHW & ABS, 2008, The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, AIHW cat. no. IHW 21; ABS cat. no. 4704.0, using data for residents in Qld, WA, SA & NT.