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Life expectancy on the rise in Switzerland

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12:56 CET+01:00

People in Switzerland are living longer, according to new statistics showing that cardiovascular diseases, cancer and dementia are the country's three most common causes of death.

Most people in Switzerland die of old age, said the Federal Statistics Office (FSO) on Thursday, releasing 2009 data.

Life expectancy is on the rise, with men reaching an average of 74.4 years and women an average of 81.2.

The general health of the population is continuing to improve, said Christoph Junker, head of the health section of the FSO.

And the explanation is simple: “There are improvements in treatment, but there have also been improvement in prevention efforts. Practising sport has become widespread, so the population remains very active for a very long time,” Junker said, adding that demographers do not expect life expectancy to drop any time soon.

In all, 57 percent of people who died in 2009 were aged 80 or older, with 78 percent at least 70 years old.

Even though the Swiss die older, they still die of the same conditions as in previous decades. Cardiovascular diseases accounted for 36 percent of deaths (22,228 people), while cancer, especially lung cancer, caused 26 per cent of deaths (16,062 people).

However, in both cases mortality is declining. In just ten years, the mortality rate fell by 31 percent for cardiovascular diseases, and by 11 percent for cancer. Lung cancer is by far the most deadly: it caused twice as many deaths as breast cancer and prostate cancer, the two next most common forms of the disease.

The number of deaths from dementia doubled over the past decade with 4,700 people dying from the condition in 2009. In a statement, the statistics office said the rise was related to the ageing population and also the fact that doctors are now more likely to diagnose the disorder.

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