But Arab community is less likely than Jewish majority to die of cancer, strokes and infectious diseases.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Despite the Israeli Arab community's lower socioeconomic status and education compared to the Jewish majority, they are significantly less likely than Jews to die of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and infectious diseases, but more likely to die of respiratory disorders, complications of diabetes and external trauma.
This is clear from a new Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) report on causes of death in Israel for 2007.
However, when age was factored in, the general death rate among Arabs was 1.5 times higher than that of Jews. The Arab population is, on average, younger than the Jewish population. When Jews and Arabs of the same age were compared, cancer rates did not differ, but deaths from cardiovascular diseases were 1.6 times higher among Arabs than Jews.
With the Arab sector one-fifth of the general population, only 4,052 Arabs of all ages died in 2007, compared to 34,739 Jews. All those who died constituted less than 0.6% of the whole population.
Of those Israelis who died two years ago, 50.4% were female and 49.6% male. Fully 79% of those who died were aged 65 and over; 63% over 75 and 31% over 85. Six percent were under 45 and 1.5% babies before their first birthdays.
While all types of cancers and heart diseases caused 43.9% of the deaths of the Jewish population, they killed 35.7% of the Arabs. However, besides age differences, much higher smoking levels were largely behind the higher male Arab rate of respiratory disease, while more obesity and failure to keep sugar levels low were responsible for the higher rate of diabetes-related deaths (8.8%) compared to Jews (5.9%).
The rates for deaths due to pneumonia and kidney disease were nearly the same in the two communities.
As has been evident for a few years, cardiovascular disease - which caused 18.8% of deaths among Jews and 16.2% among Arabs - is no longer the No. 1 killer in Israel, due to the significant developments in treating heart disease with surgery and medications and even in preventing it.
Instead, the leading cause of death is cancer: A quarter of all Jews died of malignant tumors, compared to 19.5% of the Arabs. As cancer is largely a disease of older people, the increased prevalence of malignant tumors is not surprising, now that life expectancy is between 78 and 80 years. Breast cancer was the most common malignancy in women and lung and tracheal cancer in men.
Stroke was the third most common cause of death among Jews (6.5% of Jewish deaths) but complications of diabetes was third in Arabs - and 2.6 times more common among Arabs than in Jews.
Advances in medical care for pregnant women and newborns are responsible for the shift from perinatal conditions being the fifth most common cause of death in the 1970s to causing only 1.5% of all deaths in 2007.
In addition, congenital defects are responsible for only 0.7% of deaths in 2007 compared to 2.8% nearly four decades ago.
When Israel was compared with Europe, the CBS found that Israeli men - factored by age - have a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke than those in most European countries but similar to men in Norway, Holland and Switzerland.
Israeli male death rates from cancer are among the lowest in the world, especially lung cancer. Israeli women are less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than their counterparts in most European countries when age was factored in. Their rates are similar to those of Greece, Italy, Norway and Switzerland, but higher than those in France and Holland.
Breast cancer death rates in Israeli women are among the highest in the world (partly for genetic reasons), but their risk of death from lung cancer is among the lowest in the world, similar to men.
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