Causes of death
02. Jun 2023
Cancer and cardiovascular death rates are equal for men and women

Mortality rates have changed significantly for both sexes since the turn of the century. There are now far fewer cardiovascular deaths, while the figures for the other main cause of death, cancer, have remained relatively stable.
  • Cardiovascular diseases accounted for 42% of death causes at the start of this century. This figure has now come down to 25%
  • Cancer accounted for 24% of death causes at the start of the century. This figure remains unchanged
  • Other death causes, which made up 35% of the total at the start of the century, have now risen to 51%

The latest figures about causes of death (from 2021) reveal that the previously big difference between the sexes in this context has decreased significantly. More men than women die from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. However, relative to the population size, the difference between the sexes is negligible, as indicated in the mortality rate graph below (graph no. 4).


The life expectancy in the Faroe Islands is on a steady rise. In 2000, the expected average life expectancy for newborn boys was 77.4 years. This figure has now risen to 81.3 years – an increase of almost 4 years. The expected average life expectancy for newborn girls was 83.6 years in 2000, rising to 85.4 years – an increase of almost 2 years. The difference in the life expectancy of both sexes has decreased significantly over this period. A higher life expectancy means that the number of elderly people, and thus also the mortality rate, will continue to rise.

Significant changes have also occurred in the causes of death. Far fewer people today die from the traditionally most common cause, cardiovascular diseases. For men, cancer and cardiovascular deaths are now equally common. This is due to the number of cardiovascular deaths declining by a quarter, while cancer deaths have increased slightly for both sexes.



It should be noted that the past couple of decades have seen a significant population increase and thus also an increase in the elderly population. The total population increased by more than 8,800 people from 2000 to 2021 – 4,600 men and 4,200 women.

It therefore makes good sense to look at the mortality rate relative to the population size.

The graph below compares the mortality rates for cancer and cardiovascular diseases expressed in units of deaths per 1,000 individuals in 2000 and 2021.

Here, we see a slight increase in the cancer mortality rate for men, going from 1.7 per 1,000 men in 2000 to 1.9 in 2021. This figure for women is unchanged at 1.9 per 1,000 women over this period.

The cardiovascular mortality rate has dropped by about one-third for both sexes from 2000 to 2021.


The graphs below show the causes of death from 2000 to 2021. Despite annual fluctuations, the trends are clear.



There is now a significantly wider range of death causes, indicated by a big increase in the ‘others’ category, which is now almost as common as the two traditionally most common causes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. For women, the ‘others’ category has now become the most common cause of death category. No particular disease dominates the figures in the ‘others’ category. The death causes are just much more varied now than they were 20 years ago. The table below contains details about the ‘others’ category.

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