In the EU in 2012, diseases of the respiratory system, including lung cancer, were the cause of death for 671,900 persons, 13 percent of all deaths. Men (398,400 deaths due to respiratory diseases) were more affected than women (273,600).
Among the various diseases of the respiratory system, lung cancer (leading to the deaths of 268,600 persons, or 40 percent of all deaths due to respiratory diseases), bronchitis and other chronic lower respiratory diseases (161,500 deaths, or 24 percent) and pneumonia (127,400 deaths, or 19 percent) were particularly prominent in the EU as causes of deaths.
The highest share of deaths from diseases of the respiratory system including lung cancer was recorded in 2012 in the United Kingdom (20.3 percent), followed by Denmark (18.4 percent), Ireland (18.2 percent), the Netherlands (17.8 percent) and Spain (17.1 percent). In contrast, respiratory diseases accounted for less than 8 percent of all causes of death in Latvia (5.8 percent), Lithuania (6.4 percent), Bulgaria (7.0 percent) and Estonia (7.4 percent). In the EU, deaths due to respiratory diseases represented 13.4 percent of all deaths.
Looking at the main categories of respiratory diseases leading to death, lung cancer comes first in every EU Member State except Greece and Portugal. More than half of deaths from diseases of the respiratory system are due to lung cancer in Estonia (60.4 percent), Latvia (58.0 percent), Hungary (56.7 percent), Croatia (56.4 percent), Poland (52.9 percent), Lithuania (52.0 percent) and Finland (51.7 percent). Most of these Member States also recorded the highest shares of deaths from asthma. Pneumonia accounted for a large proportion of deaths due to respiratory diseases in Portugal (38.6 percent), Slovakia (31.5 percent) and Slovenia (29.3 percent), while it accounted for less than 10 percent of deaths from respiratory diseases in Hungary (5.0 percent), Greece (5.3 percent), Croatia and Finland (both 6.6 percent).
Representing almost 60 percent (59.3 percent) of all deaths due to diseases of the respiratory system, men were more affected than women in the EU. This was mainly driven by the much higher number of deaths from lung cancer among the male population. A similar pattern can be observed in nearly all EU Member States, with the highest proportions of men among fatal respiratory diseases being recorded in the three EU Baltic Member States – Lithuania (75.3 percent), Latvia (75.2 percent) and Estonia (72.3 percent) – as well as in Bulgaria (70.7 percent).
In fact, the risk of dying from a disease of the respiratory system was higher for men than for women in all EU Member States, except Denmark. In particular, this risk was at least twice as high for men as for women in Latvia (respiratory diseases accounted for 9.2 percent of all causes of deaths for men, compared with 2.8 percent for women, meaning that men were 3.3 times more likely than women to die from respiratory diseases), Lithuania (3.0 times), Estonia (2.7 times), Bulgaria (2.3 times), Croatia (2.2 times) and Romania (2.1 times). At EU level, deaths from respiratory diseases accounted for 16.0 percent of all causes of deaths for men, and for 10.8 percent for women. Across Member States, 1 death out of 5 among the male population was from respiratory diseases in Spain (21.5 percent), the United Kingdom (20.9 percent) and the Netherlands (20.4 percent).