Friday, 22 November 2013


Men's health in proportion: the football ground

Welcome to the Nou Camp stadium. It’s the Champions League final 2015 between Manchester United and Chelsea. The ground is massive – it has a 100,000 capacity. Today it’s full at the seams with a crowd is entirely made up of British men and boys – of all ages from five to 90. The women have something better to do.
Let’s look at this crowd of men, with the eye of an all-seeing God who can look into the future. And let’s bear in mind that this is an unusual crowd, because as it represents a cross-section of the entire British male population – one in six is over the age of 65. Quite a few will be there in wheelchairs.

The God view of the crowd 

Out of that enormous crowd of 100,000 men, 847 will die in the coming year. Nearly half of them over the age of 80.  
What will they die of? I’ve scrawled over the nice picture of the Nou Camp to give you a general idea (below) but here are the figures (based on data from National Statistics).

136 of them will die of heart disease (16.1% of the deaths)
61 of them will die of lung cancer (7.2%) 
52 of them will die of a stroke (6.1%)
49 will die of respiratory disease (5.8%) 
43 will die of dementia (5.1%) 
39 will die of influenza and pneumonia (4.7%)
40 will die of accidents, suicide and self harm (4.7%)
34 will die of prostate cancer (4.1%) 
27 will die of bowel cancer (3.2%) 

Picture: Oh-Barcelona.com/Foter.com/CC BY

You’ll be wondering what all the others died of. Other types of cancers, liver disease, and dozens of other conditions that affect a smaller number of men across all age ranges.
What does this show? Well, it shows first of all that people die, even if they’ve just been to the football. You’re not “unlucky”, you’re just human. You’re part of the football crowd.
What else does it show? It shows that an awful lot of men die of heart disease, and not that many from “male specific” conditions like prostate cancer.
It’s one way of getting our health, and the things we should worry about, in proportion. There are others... coming soon.