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Oilpatch Men Could Be Wealthier – If They Opted for Healthier Lifestyles

It’s an old truism. If men didn’t spend their money on booze, smokes, and burgers, they could be richer and live longer, vigorous lives. Unfortunately, men in northeast British Columbia, many employed in the natural gas industry, are among the least healthy in Canada, reports Statistics Canada, indicating higher rates of heart disease, smoking, obesity, and inactivity.

The Canadian oilpatch also faces a significant risk of injuries relates to work. NE BC men have a 30 per cent higher chance of dying earlier. By comparison men living and working in Northern Canada, they have a mere 20 per cent greater risk of premature passing. Some camps offer wellness services like checking blood pressure, checking sugar levels for type-2 diabetes, testing urine for kidney problems, and measuring waist circumference.

“Many industry men play hard and then they work hard,” reports one medic based in Northern Canada. “When they go home, many blow a couple thousand dollars in a weekend on booze, smokes, burgers, and cocaine.”

Not only are these some Canada’s leading causes of chronic disease among Canadian men, the economic burden attributable to these four factors is a staggering $36.9 billion. This translates into $11.9 billion in direct health care costs, $14.0 billion resulting from premature deaths, $2.4 billion paid for short-term disability absences, and $8.6 billion in long-term disability. All thanks to men’s bad lifestyle behaviours.

The average life expectancy of the typical Canadian male is 79 years. Health Canada figures that smoking daily subtracts a decade of life, drinking alcohol deducts 7.9 years, and being obese takes 5.8 years of life.

“As with costs, this shortening of a man’s life depends substantially on how much and for how long that male smokes and uses alcohol,” says Health Canada. “Life years lost also increase with increasing levels of obesity. Economists have tried to place a dollar value on a life or on life years lost but the results vary substantially. In the end, the dollar value a man places on living extra years is up to him and may change as he ages. Thirty-year-old’s may not think old age has value, but most grandfathers certainly do.”

According to the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, these four risk modifiable risk factors contribute to approximately 40 different chronic conditions including lung disease (78 per cent), cancers of the head and neck (73 per cent), lung cancer (72 per cent), type-2 diabetes (67 per cent), heart disease (58%), strokes (56 per cent), colorectal cancers (52 per cent), and chronic back pain (30 per cent). “By reducing the prevalence of smoking, excess weight, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity in men, we can subsequently reduce the incident of many chronic diseases and the economic burden that these disease pose. The good news is that if men did all these things, Canada could save 70 per cent of its annual $36.9 billion designated to treat this country’s males.

The average man in Canada spends lots and lots of money during his lifetime on his vices: one drink/day costs $505,000 (or $3,260,000 for five drinks/day), five smokes/adds up to $969,000 (40 smokes/day = $4,562,000), and 70 extra pounds is $239,000 (150 extra pounds if $806,500). This translates into his out-of-pocket expenses plus insurance totaling $1.7 million to $8.6 million during his lifetime.

Think about what these same males could do with that extra money. H. Krueger & Associates did a tongue-in-cheek estimate and concluded, “Men could take 6.8 trips to outer space on Virgin Galactic, buy a brand-new car every year for 45 years, have a sweet pot of savings for their retirement, take a luxury vacation every year for 45 years, or own their own private island.”

No wonder their wives and partners keep telling Canadian men to visit their doctors. Imagine the luxuries they could spend on their lovers instead.

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