South Africa women are tough but they face a number of health risks, despite advances in medical care.
According to the Mortality and Causes of Death report issued by Statistics South Africa in March this year, the leading underlying cause of death for women is diabetes mellitus, followed by cerebrovascular diseases (strokes or aneurysms), heart disease and HIV. However, when we look at severe illness and death claims, cancer plays a disproportionately large role. According to Old Mutual, which paid out R4.49 billion in underwritten claims during 2017, cancer accounted for 62% of the ‘Big 4’ severe illnesses (cancer, heart attack, CABG and stroke) which in total made up 81% of all severe illness claims.
The top three severe illnesses for women were cancer and tumours (65%), central nervous system disorders (13%) and cardiovascular disorders (10%). By contrast, the top three severe illnesses for men were cardiovascular disorders (41%), cancers and tumours (39%) and central nervous system disorders (10%).
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