The study authors set out to investigate death rates more closely, after observing that the gender gap in death rates was likely to be down to more than simple biology or women's tendency to seek healthcare more readily than men.
They analysed World Health Organisation figures on death rates from all causes, as well as those attributable to smoking and drinking, in 30 European countries around 2005.
The proportion of the gender gap in mortality related to alcohol and smoking ordered by the all-cause mortality gender gap (2003–2005)
Background Women now outlive men throughout the globe, a mortality advantage that is very established in developed European countries. Debate continues about the causes of the gender gap, although smoking is known to have been a major contributor to the difference in the past. Results There was considerable variation in the magnitude of the male ‘excess’ of all-cause mortality across Europe, ranging from 188 per 100 000 per year in Iceland to 942 per 100 000 per year in Ukraine. Smoking-related deaths accounted for around 40% to 60% of the gender gap, while alcohol-related mortality typically accounted for 20% to 30% of the gender gap in Eastern Europe and 10% to 20% elsewhere in Europe. Conclusions Smoking continues to be the most important cause of gender differences in mortality across Europe, but its importance as an explanation for this difference is often overshadowed by presumptions about other explanations. Changes in smoking patterns by gender suggest that the gender gap in mortality will diminish in the coming decades.
As expected, death rates from all causes were higher for men than for women, ranging from 188 excess male deaths per 100,000 people per year in Iceland to 942 per 100,000 in Ukraine.
The researchers observed that the male alcohol-related death rate ranged from 29 per 100,000 in Iceland to 253 per 100,000 in Lithuania.
Overall, the proportion of deaths attributable to alcohol - such as cancers of the throat and gullet and chronic liver disease - ranged from 20 per cent to 30 per cent.
But, the figures show that smoking kills twice as many men as alcohol, accounting for 40 to 60 per cent of the gender gap in almost all of the countries studied.
... cigarettes are still being marketed in shops. The often bright and eye-catching displays - next to things children buy, like sweets and crisps - send the message that tobacco is an everyday product rather than one that is addictive and deadly. The government should implement the legislation to remove the displays.
McCartney, G., Mahmood, L., Leyland, A., Batty, G., & Hunt, K. (2011). Contribution of smoking-related and alcohol-related deaths to the gender gap in mortality: evidence from 30 European countries Tobacco Control DOI: 10.1136/tc.2010.037929