Playing Russian roulette with health

Most Russians overestimate how healthy they are and many run high health risks by smoking, abusing alcohol, being obese and failing to take enough exercise, according to a report published on Tuesday.

By (Reuters Life!)

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Published: Fri 29 Apr 2011, 10:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 6:42 PM

A survey by the Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (AIPM) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) found that about 95 per cent of Russians think they are in good or fair health, while only 44 per cent saw a doctor last year.

This could be one of the main reasons why diagnosis of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancers and diabetes is low, the researchers said. Such illnesses are also known as non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, and are the cause of the majority of deaths across the world.

“Heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory disease together are responsible for 80 per cent of all deaths in Russia,” said Vladimir Shipkov, AIPM’s executive director. “There is a significant gap between what people think is their state of health and the negative impact of their actual behaviour.”

The survey also found that most Russians know about links between the incidence of chronic disease and risk factors such as smoking, harmful drinking, unhealthy diet and low levels of physical activity.

But respondents to the survey tended to perceive these risks as part of their regular lifestyle, the researchers said.

The survey found that between one and three key risk factors feature in the everyday life of 82 per cent of respondents, and only nine per cent could say that they had no risk factors.

The survey also found that doctors could be an important factor in changing these unhealthy habits — with more than 50 per cent of respondents saying they were ready to give up risk factors if a doctor told them their health was at risk.

“This study is very important in terms of preventing NCDs from spreading further, because the fight against non-communicable diseases starts on a personal level. Half of deaths and disability cases caused by NCDs can be prevented,” said Mario Ottiglio of IFPMA.

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