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Moving to the country might actually kill you, according to new report

According to a report by the Garvan Research Foundation, living in the city might actually be better for your health. In fact, people living in regional areas are not only less healthy than city dwellers, they could actually die a lot sooner, too.

Furthermore, regional Australians are more likely to die of cancer, die from diabetes, and suffer from asthma and obesity, among other diseases and conditions, compared with people living in cities.

The report suggests in almost every area, health outcomes are worse for people living in rural areas. “We have known for many years that you’re more likely to die of cancer if you live in rural and regional Australia — you’re not more likely to get cancer, you’re more likely to die of it. But this report shows that it covers so many other areas, everything from cardiovascular to asthma to osteoporosis to mental health issues,” Garvan chief executive Andrew Giles told ABC News.

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The report found higher incidences of high blood pressure, alcohol abuse, smoking and mental health problems, including dementia, and a 40 per cent higher death rate compared to people living in cities. The poor health outcomes increased the more remote a person lived.

The news is shocking, but hopefully a wake-up call for the government. The dismal health of those living in rural areas could be explained by lack of access to necessary health care. “What the report highlights, particularly for me, is the importance of GPs in rural and regional communities,” Giles said.

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Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with over two-thirds of the population living in major cities. However, that leaves a third of people living in regional areas, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Around 40 per cent of respondents of The General Social Survey 2006, who lived in remote regional areas, reported difficulty accessing necessary services like doctors.

“This Report continues to strengthen that community ‘conversation’ and build on the program’s initiative to increase understanding of the need for, and importance of medical research across the broader community,” Giles said at the Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) in Melbourne.

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Hopefully this report will prompt a push for more services to be added to regional areas to help improve health outcomes and life expectancy. In addition, a better awareness of the health needs for all Australians will ideally improve outcomes in health care as a whole.

“The Report also provides a clear outlook on a way forward in starting to rectify some of these major health issues by considering the role medical research and, in particular, personalised medicine can play in the health of all Australians,” Giles said.

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