Health map tells of East Lancs disease

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Health map tells of East Lancs disease Health map tells of East Lancs disease

A ‘HEALTH atlas’ which maps the state of disease across the UK has confirmed a number of problems in East Lancashire.

However, one leading health boss said he was concerned the Environmental Health Atlas site, which allows people to check their risk of getting a disease, could cause unnecessary worry.

The map allows internet users to select a disease and see what their chances are of contracting it, depending on which council ward they live in.

The map shows that people in the Livesey area of Blackburn have an above average risk of getting lung cancer, while those living in the Overton area of Hyndburn are at a below average risk.

People living in the Dilworth ward in the Ribble Valley are at the highest risk level of contracting breathing condition mesothelioma, while those in Hapton are only at an average risk.

Data is also available for diseases including breast cancer, leukaemia, and kidney disease.

County Councillor Azhar Ali said the maps did not show any unexpected information, but said users may become ‘paranoid’ if they believe they might be at risk.

He said: “It is difficult because the website has got potential to be helpful, but dangerous too.

“For example, if you live in part of Pendle, it does not necessarily mean you are at a greater risk of diabetes because that has nothing to do with where you live.

“And heart disease can be from smoking or obesity but it does not mean everybody who smokes 20 a day will have a heart attack.

“This site is potentially something that will create more problems for the NHS because people will start to self-diagnose.

“They potentially make people paranoid and stressed out and they find there is nothing to worry about.

“That is why we employ doctors.”

But Ron O’Keefe, chairman of the health scrutiny committee in Blackburn with Darwen, said he thought use of the maps should be encouraged.

He said: “I think it is a great idea that people can see where they live and what sort of disease they could suffer from.

“It is first class.

“I think people should learn more about what they could be suffering from with this sort of system.

“People need to look after their own bodies.”

The maps show the relative risk in a census ward compared to that in England and Wales averaged over a 25 year period from 1985 to 2009.

To see the maps, visit www.envhealthatlas.co.uk

Comments (1)

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7:32pm Sun 27 Apr 14

Legal Beagle says...

Ron O'Keeffe might be well advised to obtain a basic understanding of statistics before spouting such nonsense.

He said: “I think it is a great idea that people can see where they live and what sort of disease they could suffer from.

“I think people should learn more about what they could be suffering from with this sort of system."

This is complete rubbish, and shows a lack of comprehension that is frankly worrying in a public official connected with the NHS. It's also likely to frighten people who find out that they live in a `high risk' area.

Whilst the map is mildly interesting it's completely meaningless from any personal health care point of view. The fact that one may live in a district where lung cancer is higher than normal is utterly irrelevant to one's own chances of contracting it. But according to Mr O'Keeffe if you do live in such an area the chances are that the nasty cough you've developed is indeed more likely to be lung cancer.

He might as well say that if a slim person lives in an area where 65% of the population are obese they are at risk of putting weight on!

Perhaps the LET could obtain a comment on the map from someone who knows what they are talking about rather than worrying people without any justification.
Ron O'Keeffe might be well advised to obtain a basic understanding of statistics before spouting such nonsense. He said: “I think it is a great idea that people can see where they live and what sort of disease they could suffer from. “I think people should learn more about what they could be suffering from with this sort of system." This is complete rubbish, and shows a lack of comprehension that is frankly worrying in a public official connected with the NHS. It's also likely to frighten people who find out that they live in a `high risk' area. Whilst the map is mildly interesting it's completely meaningless from any personal health care point of view. The fact that one may live in a district where lung cancer is higher than normal is utterly irrelevant to one's own chances of contracting it. But according to Mr O'Keeffe if you do live in such an area the chances are that the nasty cough you've developed is indeed more likely to be lung cancer. He might as well say that if a slim person lives in an area where 65% of the population are obese they are at risk of putting weight on! Perhaps the LET could obtain a comment on the map from someone who knows what they are talking about rather than worrying people without any justification. Legal Beagle
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