ACT has among the highest rate of mesothelioma in Australia

ACT has among the highest rate of mesothelioma in Australia

The ACT has among the highest rate of mesothelioma - an aggressive cancer mainly caused by exposure to asbestos - in Australia, a report has revealed.

The figures come after an Australian National University report last year proved a link between living in a house with loose-fill "Mr Fluffy" asbestos and developing mesothelioma.

ACT has among the highest rates of asbestos linked cancer in the country.

ACT has among the highest rates of asbestos linked cancer in the country.

The two-yearly report card, Australia’s health 2018, launched on Wednesday showed Australia sits squarely in the best third of OECD countries when it comes to life expectancy.

Girls born in 2016 are likely to live 84.6 years, while boys can expect to live to 80.4 years.


It showed while Australia is generally a healthy nation there are some key areas where it could do better.

The report showed Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma incidence in the world, which currently sits at 2.5 cases per 100,000 people, compared to the worldwide average of 1.3 per 100,000.

The report showed the ACT had a incidence rate of 5.2 per 100,000 males, the second highest rate behind Western Australia.

Figures from Mesothelioma Australia show last year there were 10 new cases in the ACT, nine men and one woman, with a rate of 2.7 per 100,000 people.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer with the average time between diagnosis and death nine months, according to the report.

In 2010–2014, mesothelioma had the lowest 5-year relative survival of all cancer types, at 6.4 per cent.

The report said the incidence and mortality data presented are likely to be an underestimate, as it is probable that not all notifications for 2016 were recorded at the time the data was published.

"Rates were highest in Western Australia, where the rate for men was more than double the national rate," the report said.

"Exposure to asbestos has been responsible for many cases of mesothelioma in the Western Australian town of Wittenoom, well known for past mining of asbestos."

The report card also found half of Australians have a common chronic health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, a mental illness, or cancer.

Almost a quarter of Australians have two or more of these conditions, often making experiences of health and healthcare particularly complex.

The report said 63-per-cent of adults were either overweight or obese, while carrying too much weight is responsible for 7-per-cent of total disease burden.

Australian institute of Health and Welfare CEO Barry Sandison said it was not just a case of poor diet or exercise habits, but a range of a range of biological, behavioural, social and environmental factors at play.

"Understanding why someone may be obese—or in good or poor health generally—is complex and it’s important to look at the raft of factors across a person’s life that may be at play," he said.

Daniella White is a reporter for The Canberra Times with a special focus on health issues

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