An in depth special report on the county's health has revealed that Mayo is a blackspot for prostate cancer and diabetes and death rates from heart attacks, stroke, and breast cancer are among the highest in the country.
The figures are contained in an insightful, and in parts startling, new Irish Examiner health special, published yesterday (Thursday ).
It shows that while 86.5 per cent of Mayo's population would describe themselves as in “very good or good health”, there are some worryingly high occurences of specific illnesses in the county.
These include that Mayo has the highest rate of diabetes in Ireland, one of the highest death rates from stroke and heart attack, and the fourth highest mortality rate from breast cancer.
Mayo's worryingly high showing in a number of health areas could be explained somewhat by the county's older population.
Mayo has the highest percentage of over 65s in Ireland, with this age group accounting for 15 per cent of the population.
Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser yesterday, a spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society said it is hugely important for people to know the early warning signs of cancer to greatly improve outcomes following a diagnosis
“According to the Irish Examiner report, Mayo has one of the highest mortality rates from breast cancer in Ireland. One of the keys to increasing your survival chances from breast cancer is to ensure that the cancer is caught early,” said the spokesperson. “We are asking all women to be breast aware and know the early warning signs for breast cancer.”
In relation to Mayo’s high incidence of prostate cancer, they said that while the causes of this type of cancer are still not known, eating a healthy diet and being physically active can play an important role in reducing the risk.
“Men can be on the lookout for early warning signs which include difficulties going to the toilet, going more often and discomfort when going, blood in urine or semen, and unexplained back or groin pain. It is important that men discuss any symptoms or changes with their GP.”
The health report also revealed that Mayo has one of the highest percentages of the population with medical cards. At least half of the people in the county are estimated to hold a medical card.
Suicide levels are also higher than the national average. There are 13.1 suicides per 100,000 people in Mayo, compared to a national average of 11.5.