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Scots 'lose more years to depression than lung cancer'

Scottish Burden of Disease Study also put neck and lower back pain high on the list.

Depression: Women suffer proportionally higher disease burden, study finds (file pic).
Depression: Women suffer proportionally higher disease burden, study finds (file pic). PA

People in Scotland lose more years to poor health caused by depression than lung cancer, researchers have claimed.

Similarly, neck and lower back pain causes more years of poor health for the public than early heart disease, according to the Scottish Burden of Disease Study.

NHS researchers calculated the years of life lost due to early death combined with the years of good quality life lost due to less than ideal health such as illness, injury or disability - a measure known as the burden of disease - to discover how different diseases affect health and life expectancy.

Ischaemic heart disease came top of the list, with 100,400 years lost to ill health and early death, followed by neck and lower back pain at 90,200 years and depression at 76,000 years.

Lung condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was fourth, with 60,700 years lost followed by lung cancer at 56,900 years.

Researchers from NHS Health Scotland and the information services division of NHS National Services Scotland analysed data from 2015 to compile the report, which identifies 25 specific diseases, conditions and injuries which accounted for almost 70% of the overall burden of disease in Scotland.

When categorised into broad groups, cancers caused the largest burden, followed by cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke, with mental health and substance use disorders in third place.

The study found women suffered a proportionally higher disease burden from lower back and neck pain, depression, Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, migraine, arthritis and anxiety disorders, compared to men.

Men suffered a proportionately higher disease burden than women from ischaemic heart disease, suicide and self-harm related injuries, alcohol and drug use disorders, and chronic liver disease.

Dr Diane Stockton, the study lead at NHS Health Scotland, said: "This set of studies provides the most accurate picture we have ever had of the impact of different diseases and conditions on the Scottish population.

"It is the first time that estimates of burden of disease have been calculated using the full range of sources of data available, specifically for Scotland.

"There are more person-years of poor health lost due to neck and lower back pain than are lost are due to early heart disease deaths, and more person-years of poor health lost due to depression than lung cancer deaths."

She added: "This is a stark reminder that living longer does not necessarily equate to healthy, happy life.

"It is important to address the burden of living in less than ideal health so that more people in Scotland can live longer, healthier lives."

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