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British women have the second lowest life expectancy in western Europe, official figures have revealed.
Females in the UK are now expected to live for 82 years and nine months – almost three years less than those in Spain, where women live the longest.
Only in Denmark do women have a lower life expectancy.
According to experts, the shocking statistics can by linked to British women smoking heavily since World War Two.
While British men’s life expectancy was more than three years lower than women’s, at 79 years, they ranked higher in comparison to their European counterparts.
UK males came in a year behind Sweden, which was top of the table, a Public Heath England report on the latest EU figures for 2015 revealed.
Deaths caused by heart disease and stroke have halved for both sexes since 2001, but deaths among women from lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease have risen.
There has also been a spike in deaths from complications of dementia and Alzheimer’s, the Times reports.
Lung cancer in men has dropped by nearly a third, but the rate of men dying from dementia and Alzheimer’s has risen.
Stark regional differences between life expectancies within the UK are also shown in the report, according to the newspaper.
England had the longest life expectancies for both sexes, followed by Wales.
Men living in the most deprived areas of England could expect to live nine years less than men in the least deprived areas, and women seven years less.
Professor Peter Goldblatt, of University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, told The Sun on Sunday: “Women in this country started smoking in large numbers during the Second World War when they began to work in factories. So the epidemic of smoking among women happened earlier [in Britain] than among women in other European countries.”
Public Health England said: “For most people the ingredients for a healthy life are a good education, a good job, a healthy diet, a suitable roof over your head and people to care for and about.”
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