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Women Aged 50 and Up Live Longer, WHO Report Finds

Update Date: Sep 03, 2013 10:41 AM EDT

Life expectancy is greatly affected by medical advances, such as better treatment plans and medications, and health care-associated initiatives, such as programs that help people take preventative measures. Due to new technology and research, people are living longer today than they did in the past. Now, according to a new report conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the life expectancy for women aged 50 and above is rising throughout the world.

In the report, the study's leader, Dr. John R. Beard, who is the director of the department of aging at WHO, stated that for women over 50, the main killers are heart disease, stroke and cancer. Even though these are the main culprits for all women throughout the global community, the new report found that the death rates for these health conditions vary greatly between countries of different wealth.

According to the report, the rate of death due to diseases, such as stomach, colon, breast and cervical cancer for women living in wealthier nations has decreased significantly. The rate of death for the same diseases for women living in poor or middle-income nations has also decreased, but not as dramatically. The researchers noted that even though women in general are living longer, poor and middle-income nations could still make even greater gains if they adopted more programs.

"The gap in life expectancy between such women in rich and poor countries is growing," the authors wrote according to NBC News.

Beard added, "More women can expect to live longer and not just survive child birth and childhood. But what we found is that improvement is much stronger in the rich world than in the poor world. The disparity between the two is increasing. What it also points to is that we need particularly in low and middle-income countries to start to think about how these emerging needs of women get addressed. The success in the rich world would suggest that is through better prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases."

The researchers found that women aged 50 and above living in rich countries are less likely to die from heart disease, stroke and diabetes in today's world than they were three decades ago. The researchers believe that these new rates have to do a lot with better preventative and medical care. From the findings, the authors recommend poor and middle-income countries to create better programs that can help prevent smoking, excessive drinking and obesity. On top of that, the WHO researchers believe that better screening methods for deadly diseases such as breast and cervical cancer need to be adopted.

The researchers added that women in Japan and Germany could expect to live up to 88 and 84-years-old respectively. For women living in South Africa and Mexico, their life expectancies are 73 and 80 respectively. The researchers reasoned that poorer nations could only focus on their biggest health problems, such as HIV/AIDS in Africa. Due to limited resources, other conditions, such as diabetes, are often left untreated. The researchers hope that this new report sheds light on what needs to be done in order to close the gap. The health ministers from the agency's 194 member states have agreed to address this problem and devise a plan to prevent and maintain non-communicable diseases during their next meeting in May.

The report can be found here.

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