Last year there were more deaths in Malaga province than ever before: 13,323, which was 4.8 per cent more than in 2017. It wasn't that there were more murders or that people's health has got worse. On the contrary, life expectancy has increased by more than two years in the past decade and is now more than 82 years. There are two causes for the increase in the number of deaths: more people now live in the province and the population is getting older.
So what do people in Malaga die of? Most of them, from old age. Two age-related health factors, circulatory and respiratory problems, are behind four out of every ten deaths, according to official figures. Tumours are also related to age, and last year they were the cause of 3,499 deaths in the province, which was 7.3 per cent more than the previous year. One in every four deaths are due to some type of oncological illness, and the most lethal were lung cancer (742 people), colon (372) and pancreas (224). Pancreatic cancer caused 35 per cent more deaths last year than in 2017, while the number of people who died from breast cancer (202) and liver cancer (159) dropped.
Another group of illnesses which are clearly age-related are those of the nervous system, which caused 832 deaths in the province last year, of whom more than 500 were due to Alzheimer's. In this condition, as in others, the incidence differs according to gender: more than twice as many women die as men. Tumours are the main cause of death in men (over 30 per cent), while for women it is problems with the circulatory system (33.4 per cent).
Leaving gender differences aside, looking at problems associated with the heart and circulatory system, those which caused the most deaths last year were cerebrovascular: 936 out of a total of 4,184. With regard to respiratory illnesses, flu increased the death rate considerably in 2018: 46 people died from complications of flu, which was three times more than the previous year.
Not everybody died from illness. Last year the number of unnatural deaths dropped by five per cent to 454, but suicide is still the main cause. Last year 134 people in Malaga took their own lives, four more than in 2017. This is mainly a male problem: it caused the death of 108 men compared to 26 women. There were also marked differences in violent deaths: 12 men were murdered in the province in 2018, and three women.
The best news regarding the figures for unnatural deaths is the drop in fatalities as a result of traffic accidents: 29 people died on the roads of Malaga province last year, which was less than half the figure for the previous year. Whereas in 2004 these accidents were the main cause of death by external causes, they are now much further down the list.
There were some other pieces of good news in last year's figures: no women died giving birth and there was only one case of sudden death of a child (there were two the year before). The number of people who died from Aids remained at the same level as in recent years, around 20.