People in Canada have good health, are living longer

A large and systematic effort to describe the burden of diseases and injuries over the past 3 decades.


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In a new study by the Global Burden of Disease, scientists show that by and large health of Canadians is great and is predictable with other comparative nations, and individuals are living longer with illnesses.

For the study, scientist summarized disease trends from 1990 to 2016 to provide current and historical estimates for all-cause and cause-specific diseases and injuries using mortality, years of life lost, years lived with disability and disability-adjusted life years in Canada.

They found that the leading causes of death and disability were noncommunicable diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, and mental health and substance use disorders, which, in total, made up 56% of all disability-adjusted life years.

Dr. Heather Orpana, one of the study’s authors said, “These data show us that Canada is doing well, with a relatively high level of overall health, and with life expectancy and health-adjusted life expectancy that is on par with other similar countries in North America, Europe and Australasia.”

“When we look at disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) — a measure that combines both mortality and the impact of having a disease or being in poor health — cancer, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and mental and substance use disorders are the leading cause of DALYs in Canada. These diseases accounted for more than half of all DALYs in Canada in 2016.”

During the year 2006 and 2016, scientists found that the rate of all-cause age-standardized years of life lost declined by 12%, while the rate of all-cause age-standardized years lived with disability remained relatively stable (+1%), and the rate of all-cause age-standardized disability-adjusted life year declined by 5%.

According to scientists, this trend may persist as the opioid epidemic continues in Canada.

Moreover, in 2015, for the first time in history, Canadians aged 65 years and older formed a larger proportion of the population than those aged 14 years and younger.

According to Dr. Justin Lang, lead author of the study, “As our population ages, we are seeing the burden of health loss shift from mortality to disability. Studies like this help us understand which diseases and conditions are the largest contributors to health loss across the country. As the population continues to age, it will be important to monitor not only mortality and the prevalence of diseases and injuries, but also the impact these diseases and injuries have on the health experience of Canadians.”

The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.