London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Walthamstow 1962

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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TABLE VII Expectation of Life at Birth

1941Not available


Analysis by Age Groups of Total Mortality in Walthamstow

Age Group191119211931194119511961
0 - 134017311053Not Available24
1 - 51637845183
15 - 256768663412
25 - 4519619915412539
45 - 65296283354334316

From Table VIII it is clear that three times as many Walthamstow
citizens are now living beyond the age of 65 as did so fifty years
ago and the relative number of pensioners is increasing quite rapidly.
In 1911 infectious disease (pneumonia excluded) caused 407 deaths
(28% of the total) and all forms of cancer only 102 (7%). By 1961 the
corresponding deaths from Infectious conditions numbered only 12
(less than 1%) but the number of cancer deaths had risen to 285 (21½%).
To some extent this increase is linked with the general ageing of the
population but the most rapid increase in deaths has occurred in deaths
from cancer of the lung, which caused 81 of 285 cancer deaths last
year. While the causes of cancer, and of its increasing incidence,
remain obscure we do know that air pollution and excessive cigarette
smoking tend to produce lung cancer and the Council are whole-heartedly
pressing forward a phased programme of Smoke Control Areas (of which
a map appeared in the 1961 Report) designed to eliminate air pollution
from the town and also supporting a campaign to discourage smoking
especially among schoolchildren and young people.
It is gratifying to see practical efforts being made to overcome
one of the worst scourges of our generation but I can confidently
Predict that whoever carries out the next fifty years survey will
wonder why, out of a truly astronomical National budget, we spend so
little on medical research that the Imperial Cancer Research fund has
to raise money by selling flags in the streets.