Australia has lower rates of deaths directly attributed to alcohol when compared with the late 1990s, with rates recorded at 5.1 deaths per 100,000 Australians in 2017 compared with 6.6 deaths 20 years ago – data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.
“There were 1,366 alcohol-induced deaths in 2017, with those deaths most commonly occurring in males aged in their early 60s and caused by alcoholic liver diseases,” said Justine Boland, Program Manager of the Health and Disability Branch at the ABS.
However, alcohol is still a major contributor to a large number of deaths, particularly those which are due to an injury event. When considering alcohol and its contribution to all deaths, a total of 4,186 registered deaths had alcohol mentioned in 2017. This change is particularly marked for Australian women who have recorded the highest rate of alcohol-related death for the last 20 years at 7.0 deaths per 100,000 persons.
Australia’s leading cause of death continues to be heart disease, although the number and rate of death from coronary artery disease continues to decline. As death rates from heart disease and stroke decrease, other diseases such as dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s disease, continue to increase.
“In 2017, rates of lung cancer decreased and it has moved down to be the fifth leading cause of death,” Ms Boland said. “However, there was an increase in deaths due to chronic lower respiratory diseases including emphysema, which is now the fourth leading cause of death, highlighting that smoking related illness is still a serious public health issue in Australia.”
Following a bad flu season the number of deaths from influenza nearly tripled, recording 1,255 deaths in 2017, up from 464 in 2016. Elderly Australians and those with weakened immune systems, living in the eastern states were most likely to be affected by this increase.
There were 160,909 deaths in Australia in 2017, with a corresponding standardised death rate of 5.3 per 1,000 people. Australia has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, with 3.3 deaths per 1,000 live births being recorded in 2017.
Cancers accounted for almost 30 per cent of Australian deaths in 2017. Lung cancer accounted for the most cancer deaths, making it the second leading cause of death for males and fifth leading cause overall. Colorectal cancer was the sixth leading cause of death, accounting for 5,325 deaths in 2017. Breast cancer was the sixth ranked cause for women, while prostate cancer was the sixth ranked for men.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among people 15-44 years of age and remains the leading cause of premature mortality in Australia. In 2017, suicide deaths occurred at a rate of 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people.
Comprehensive data and analysis can be found in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0) and Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0), available for free download from the ABS website – https://www.abs.gov.au.