Go to contents

Over half of Koreans suffer from chronic illnesses: NSO reveals

Over half of Koreans suffer from chronic illnesses: NSO reveals

Posted March. 06, 2001 19:12,   


Thanks to improvements in medical technology, the average Korean`s life span has increased by as many as 12 years in the past three decades. However, the national health standard has actually deteriorated, with 56 out of every 100 Koreans found to be suffering from at least one chronic illness, the National Statistical Office (NSO) said Tuesday.

According to the NSO, the average life span has increased by 12 years from 62.33 years in 1971 to 74.39 in 1997, but 54 percent of men and 58 percent of women were found to be suffering from at least one chronic illness. The highest number, 15.8 percent of the populace, was suffering from tooth decay, followed by 15.4 percent with skin diseases and 7.4 percent with arthritis. Among those 65 or older, 34.2 percent suffered from arthritis, 23.1 percent from lumbago or sciatica and 19.4 percent from hypertension.

As of 1999, brain diseases were the most common cause of death among Koreans, killing 72.9 out of every 100,000 Koreans each year. Next came heart trouble and traffic accidents, which were responsible for the deaths of 39.1 and 26.3 people, respectively, out of every 100,000 people. The order of the list of leading causes of death has not changed since 1990, officials said. The cancer-related death rate is falling and is below the average for member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But the death toll from liver cancer among men stood at 31.7 for every 100,000 people, the world`s second highest rate after Japan (38.4). The death rate among men from stomach cancer was 30.3, the world`s third highest level after Japan (53.6) and Portugal (35.9).

The NSO survey also found that 750 traffic accidents take place in Korea each day, crippling 40,000 to 50,000 people and causing financial damage amounting to 11.1 trillion won or 2.6 percent of the nation`s gross domestic product (GDP).

Choi Young-Hae moneychoi@donga.com