Farmers and agricultural workers are approximately 2.3 times more likely to die from a circulatory disease than employers and managers, new research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found.

The findings of the research on mortality in the Irish population were published yesterday, Wednesday, September 14, in an ESRI report entitled “Unequal Chances? Inequalities in mortality in Ireland”.

It shows that the categories ‘farmers’ and ‘agricultural workers’ both had the highest standardised mortality rates (SMR) for circulatory diseases out of nine socio-economic groups between 2000 and 2012.

The SMR for circulatory diseases for farmers in the year 2000 was 1,039 per 100,000 population, and 1,097 per 100,000 population for agricultural workers.

Although these figures reduced to 695 per 100,000 and 848 per 100,000 respectively in 2012, both groups remained more likely to die from a circulatory disease such as a heart attack than all the other groups.

Common causes

While circulatory conditions were the most common cause of death amongst farmers and agricultural workers, the ESRI identified the next most prevalent cause as neoplasms, that is, cancers and tumours.

In 2000, the SMR for neoplasms for farmers was 480 per 1000,000. Over the following 12 years, this figure decreased to 454 per 100,000 and a similar pattern occurred within the agricultural workers group, when the rate fell from 611 to 551 per 100,000.

Respiratory diseases remained the third most common cause of death for the farming and agricultural groups every year between 2000 to 2012, just ahead of ‘all other causes’.

The number of farmer and agricultural worker deaths in the ‘all other causes’ category rose slowly over the course of the 12 year period and in the last year with available data, the SMR for farmers stood at 420 per 100,000, while the rate for the latter group was 574 per 100,000.