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48 years of hurt: changes in health since 1966

Published: 30 Jul 2014

On July 30th, 1966, England lifted the Jules Rimet trophy for the first and only time in our nation's history.

For those old enough to remember that momentous occasion, it probably already feels like an eternity ago - especially considering how the Three Lions have performed in recent tournaments.

Of course, England's footballing prowess (or lack of) isn't the only difference between now and 1966 - the state of our country's health has changed significantly over the last few decades too. Here are some of the major differences:


One disease that has arguably received the most media coverage over the years is cancer, with incidence rates and - more importantly - survival rates both increasing since the '60s.

According to the most recent figures provided by Cancer Research UK, the measure of diagnosis has risen by over a third, with the majority of this occurring before the late 1990s. However, double the number of people are now given the all-clear compared with forty years ago, while three-quarters of children are now cured, compared with just a quarter in the late '60s.

In January, it was revealed the number of overall cases of lung cancer had actually gone down by 20 per cent since 1975, largely because of the decreasing proportion of people smoking between the 1950s and the 1960s.

However, this trend was predominantly seen among men, while women saw a small rise in their own lung cancer diagnoses, which Cancer Research UK largely put down to the fact that larger sections of the female population waited longer before deciding to refrain from using cigarettes.

At Aviva, our Cancer Pledge means that if your clients are ever diagnosed, they will have access to the cancer treatment and palliative care as recommended by a specialist, giving them the best possible chance of recovery.


It certainly can be argued that the average person's day is now much more hectic than it was back in the 1960s. Part of the reason for this is that advancing technology makes it increasingly difficult to switch off from work, while the Institute of Heartmath states that the way we go about our lives now is much different compared with the past, leaving us with less time to wind down.

As a result, the Mental Health Foundation estimates around 12 million people in the UK see their doctor with a stress-related issue every year. The majority of this is linked to cases of anxiety and depression, which cumulatively costs the country's businesses approximately £13.3 million over a 12-month period.

However, with Aviva's private medical insurance covering mental health issues, policyholders can rest assured that if they do end up experiencing problems such as depression, stress and/or anxiety, they will receive a high quality level of care to ensure they are treated as quickly and efficiently as possible. This also includes access to a 24 hour stress counselling helpline for any members with an Aviva PMI policy.

Health awareness

We appear to be much more aware of the repercussions of our lifestyle choices on our health. An example of this is the decline in lung cancer rates, as mentioned earlier, dropping as a result of people giving up smoking.

In addition to the impact on tobacco, people are also focused on tackling obesity, considering the types of food they are consuming and are much more conscious of the effects of alcohol on their bodies.

Aviva's Health Check report recently studied the state of the UK's wellbeing, asking people to submit information on their attitudes towards exercise and living healthily. It is hoped these results can help you to advise policyholders on how they can reduce their risk of compromising their mental and physical conditions for many years to come.

We'd like to hear from you...

Were you lucky enough to witness the 1966 World Cup final victory? How has health changed for you, then vs now? Share your stories with us by tweeting @Aviva4Advisers.

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