Tag Archive for: lifestyle

Cancer is the main cause of premature death in Portugal

Malignant tumors are the second cause of death in the country – after cardiovascular diseases (including strokes and heart attacks) – killing every year nearly 30,000 people.
This number corresponds to one-third of the country’s annual births, at a time when the Portuguese population is shrinking.

At the opening of World Cancer Day Rui Portugal, the deputy director general of the General Directorate of Health (DGS) declared that roughly 60,000 new cases of cancer are discovered every year. Most common are lung, colon, and prostate cancer in men and breast and colon cancer in women.

Increased life expectancy (at present 80,7 years in Portugal), exposure to carcinogens (tobacco, alcohol, air pollution) and unhealthy lifestyles explain the progressive increase in the number of new cases.

He therefore emphasized that the main public health policies for controlling cancer should focus on risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption at the same time urging the population to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

National screening programs for the prevention of cancer are little effective. Although the number of people screened for colon cancer has increased compared to the pre-Covid years, screening coverage in the country is heterogeneous and mainly concentrated in urban centers. There are rural areas where screening practically doesn’t exist.

‘Adherence strategies also need to be improved. People need to be convinced to join’, says José Deniz, director of the National Program for Oncological Diseases.

The president of the Portuguese Society of Pneumology, António Morais, recalls that lung cancer is one of the main causes of death. And, although fewer people are smoking nowadays, 15% of the population still does.

‘Smoking cessation consultations were among the most lagging behind during the pandemic and continue to do so as a result of the lack of family doctors. It is necessary to take advantage of the window of opportunity when someone considers quitting smoking.’

Moreover, he emphasized, there is the problem of electronic cigarettes. ‘It is said to harm less because it doesn’t burn but the nicotine is still there, causing addiction. It is a hoax published to exhaustion, even knowing that tobacco advertising has been banned in Portugal.’

Prevention should start in school. ‘Children are also health agents’, says Maria de Belém Roseira, the former Minister of Health. ‘They must take home the advice their parents did not have or did not value’.

Enjoy the week            Aproveita a semana                (pic Público/Sapo)

A morte é a curve na estrade ( death is a bend in the road ) – Fernando Pessoa

According to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 economies by factors contributing to health – overweight, lifestyle, tobacco & alcohol use and quality of health care – Portugal is in 22nd place.
Neighbouring Spain – that now has the highest life expectancy in Europe – tops the list of world’s healthiest nations.

In the past decade there has been a decline in deaths from cardiovascular diseases and cancer in Spain but not in Portugal, where more than half of all deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases (30%) and cancer (25%).
The main single cause of mortality and morbidity in the country is a stroke (10%).

Portugal has, in fact, the highest prevalence of stroke in Europe. This is probably due to the high number of people with hypertension – one-third of the population has it but only half knows – and the excessive consumption of salt. Every hour three Portuguese suffer from a stroke, one dies and one remains disabled. In particular, women are more at risk as they grow older than men.

A consequence of the widespread existence of stroke and hypertension is the frequent occurrence of dementia.
Of 35 countries investigated, Portugal ranks 4th with respect to dementia as reported by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).

Alzheimer is the most common form of dementia in Western Europe. Interesting enough, this is not the case in Portugal. A recent epidemiological study from the University of Porto and published in the American Journal of Alzheimer Disease discovered that vascular dementia (57%) is more common in the Portuguese population than Alzheimer (36%).

The good news is that in Portugal nearly 2 in 3 cases of dementia can be averted by a change in lifestyle with a healthy diet and regular exercise, including a reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as obesity, hypertension, smoking, alcohol abuse, high cholesterol, diabetes, excess of salt and stress.

Bom fim de semana      Have a healthy weekend       
(pic Publico/Observador)