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Domestic Violence in Australia Leads to Number of Suicides

Advanced countries? No matter, domestic violence against women continues to be a major scourge.

Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia, a comprehensive report released Saturday, said nearly a third of female suicides in the country could be attributed to domestic violence.

So also 15 per cent of women suffering from depression were those who had been subjected to violence at home.

The report further says that child sexual abuse causes 10 per cent of the anxiety and depression in the entire population.

Intimate partner violence alone accounts for 1.1 per cent of the entire burden of disease and injury in Australia, according to the report - the first time such a statistic has been published.

It shows air pollution can lead to heart disease, lung cancer and stroke, and causes about 3 per cent of the total burden of respiratory illnesses together known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

The report, compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the University of Queensland, finds domestic violence, child abuse, air pollution, osteoporosis and 10 other more significant risk factors - such as tobacco, drug and alcohol use, physical inactivity and poor eating habits - together account for 32 per cent of the total burden of death and disease affecting Australians in 2003.

The report confirms that cancer has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death and disabling illness, thanks to success in tackling cardiovascular disease. Tobacco caused 7.6 per cent of the total burden, calculated as the years of healthy life lost either to premature death or illness and disability.

Other preventable risks include high blood pressure, which caused 7.6 per cent of the total burden, high body mass (7.5per cent), lack of exercise (6.6per cent) and high blood cholesterol (6.2 per cent). The report shows nearly 70per cent of cardiovascular disease can be avoided if pe ople adopt healthier habits, while 32.9 per cent of cancer and 60 per cent of diabetes are preventable.

Head of the AIHW's economics and expenditure unit John Goss said the fact that 32 per cent of the total burden of illness was preventable was "an important message for policymakers ... because it indicates where you can get the most bang for your buck in prevention".

With national elections not far away, the data has also begun to be a subject of hot debate in political circles.

Labor health spokeswoman Nicola Roxon said the report showed preventable diseases "remain a huge threat to our nation's health".

"In 11 years, John Howard has failed to turn this around - and in fact, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has doubled since 1996," Ms Roxon said.

Health Minister Tony Abbott said the Government had a "strong record in addressing chronic disease through Medicare and the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme").


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