Korea a leader in stomach cancer, traffic deaths

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Korea a leader in stomach cancer, traffic deaths

Korea’s deaths due to suicide, stomach cancer and traffic accidents rank among the highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a recent government study.

But the overall death rate in Korea has decreased by 28.5 percent in a ten-year period, according to a study released yesterday by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA), a think tank under the Prime Minister’s Office.

The report compared death rates by causes among the 34 OECD members.

According to the study, the death rate was 753.8 for every 100,000 people in 2012, down from 1,054.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2002.

This is the second greatest decrease in death rate over a decade, next to Estonia’s 29.6 percent.

However, Korea’s rate of death by suicide increased by 28.2 percent in the period from 22.7 in 100,000 in 2002, to 29.1 in 2012. This places its suicide rate as the highest in the OECD.

This comes as no surprise, as Korea’s suicide rate has continued to rank first among OECD countries in recent years.

According to Statistics Korea, the nation’s suicide rate has more than tripled since 1992 due to a host of reasons, including financial difficulties and depression, especially among the elderly.

Likewise, according to the KIHASA report, Koreans’ death rate due to stomach cancer came in third in the OECD, at an average of 23.4 out of 100,000 people. This marks a decrease from 2002, when 42.8 per 100,000 people died from stomach cancer.

Chile came in first for stomach cancer fatalities at 27.9 deaths for every 100,000 people, and Japan second with 25.4 per 100,000.

Fatal traffic accidents have decreased drastically by 44.8 percent since 2002 in Korea, but it still came in third in traffic accident-related deaths at 13.9 per 10,000 in 2012.

The recent death of two young K-pop stars, of girl group Ladies’ Code, in a traffic accident in Daegu shed light on concerns over traffic safety and regulations.

Korea followed behind Mexico at 17.4 for every 100,000 and Chile at 14.

Death due to diabetes came in fifth for Korea compared to other OECD nations and death due to cerebrovascular disease that can lead to strokes came in 10th. Korea came in 29th compared to the other countries for any cancer-related deaths other than stomach cancer.

“In Korea, medical skills and prevention policies have resulted in a large decrease in the overall death rate due to diseases requiring advanced medical technology,” said Chang Young-sik, a researcher with KIHASA who compiled the study.

“However, because there is a trend of increase in death due to suicide, we are planning measures to counter this.”

BY SARAH KIM[sarahkim@joongang.co.kr ]

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