For the first time in 21 years, the life expectancy for females in Denmark has dropped.
Statistics released on Tuesday showed that female life expectancy dropped to 82.5 years in 2015, a decrease of 0.2 years from the previous year’s figures. Male life expectancy, on the other hand, increased by 0.1 years to 78.6 years.
Since 1993 life expectancy for Danish women increased by an average of 0.2 years per year. The decrease in life expectancy for women between 2014-2015 may be attributed to the dramatic rise in the previous year of 0.74, according to Knud Juel, a professor at the National Institute of Public Health.
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“If we look back over the last 10 to 15 years, there has been an increase of about 0.25 years. These statistics remain true when we consider both last year’s increase [between 2013 and 2014] and this year’s decline [between 2014 and 2015]. The decrease in women’s life expectancy may therefore be the result of an increase in flu deaths over the last year,” Juel told Politiken.
While Juel said the flu may be a contributing factor in the decrease in female life expectancy, he stressed that the statistics do not give us an entirely accurate view of Denmark’s overall health.
“The vast majority of deaths are due to chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, which you cannot measure in annual changes. Illnesses caused by smoking, for example, may take up to 40 years to develop. There, an indicator like lung cancer is very telling, because those deaths are almost entirely caused by smoking. So one needs to look at increases and decreases over a longer period of time,” Juel said.
According to the statistics, women in eastern Jutland have the highest life expectancy at 83.4 years, whereas women living in western and southern Zealand have the lowest life expectancy across at 81.5 years.
The highest life expectancy rate in Denmark for men is in eastern Zealand at 79.5 years, and the lowest is the City of Copenhagen at 77.0 years.