Women’s health is being put at risk

womenBS''Dr Jeremy Wight, Sheffield's director of public health
womenBS''Dr Jeremy Wight, Sheffield's director of public health

DRINKING and smoking among women in Sheffield is leading to widening health gap between females in the richer and poorer parts of the city.

Sheffield’s Director of Public Health says women’s health is a ‘cause for concern’ in a report he will present to councillors next Wednesday.

Dr Jeremy Wight says smoking and drinking that are traditionally associated men males are now thought to be taking more of a toll on women.

New figures, as The Star reported last week, show that babies born in Sheffield today can expect to live longer than ever before.

But while life expectancy for men has shot up, as a result of major efforts to address the causes of premature death, the improvement in women’s life expectancy has stalled.

Health inequality between women in the more deprived and in the more prosperous parts of Sheffield has widened after being narrowed in recent years.

Dr Jeremy Wight’s report says in general the health of the people is ‘better than it ever has been’ - and the improvement in men’s health is ‘clearly very much to be welcomed’.

But he added: “The less good picture for women is, however, a cause for concern.

“Not only has the improvement in life expectancy stalled, but the inequality in female life expectancy across the city is now widening.

“This may well be the consequence of women increasingly adopting lifestyles more traditionally associated with men, such as smoking and drinking alcohol to excess.”

According to the latest figures, men in Sheffield can expect to live on average to 77.8 years and women to 81.5 years - better than in previous years but still below the national average.

Men in the less affluent parts of the city can still expect to die 8.6 years before those in the more affluent parts - but that gap has shrunk from 10.2 four years ago.

For women, the gap has widened from 6.3 years to 8.2 years.

Dr Wight also says there are other significant public health problems that do not show up in mortality statistics.

“There is a huge burden of diseases that do not cause death, or else cause ill health and disability for many years before someone dies.

“Psychiatric diseases and mental ill health are prime examples.”