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It’s Not Easy Being A Canuk Sheila

Montreal 5.00pm - 27 April 2001: A stress epidemic among Canadian women, is taking a severe toll on their health, according to a new study carried out by Statistics Canada, and the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Details of the study are contained in a report released in Ottawa today.

More than one third of Canadian women, and almost 25 per cent of Canadian men say they are feeling high levels of stress. The study says although women take better care of themselves, paying more attention to diet and weight, they are also more likely to have chronic health problems.

Some 43 per cent of women in the 25-44 age group report high levels of personal stress, compared to 31 per cent of men of the same age. There is a clear link among both sexes between high stress levels and chronic health problems, but the connection is more striking among women.

Women are more likely than men to suffer higher incidences of arthritis, back problems, high blood pressure, migraine, asthma, bronchitis, depression and chronic pain. For both sexes personal and work stress are predictive of mental and physical health problems. However it is women who are more likely to experience stress.

Cuts in government health and social spending have also added to the stress on women.The study also shows that women use health-care services more than men do. In Canada 89 per cent of women in the 20-49 year age group visit a doctor at least once a year, compared with only 66 per cent of men the same age. Even after being found to have a fatal disease, women survive longer than men because they generally take better care of themselves, according to the report.

The study is one of the first and the biggest in the world to determine the connection between stress and health. Other smaller studies have shown that depression is more prevalent among women. The researchers didn`t attempt to explain why stress levels are higher among women. Many recent studies suggest women are experiencing intense pressures more because of social change in Canada.

- Kevin Loughlin is a Kiwi freelance journalist presently based in Canada.

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