A record 47.3 percent of salaried workers showed abnormal readings in their health checkups last year, according to a government survey released Saturday.

The ratio of workers with health abnormalities has risen each year over the past decade, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said. The figure in the latest survey was up 13.7 percentage points from 1993.

The ministry compiled the study based on the results of regular health checkups on company workers. About 37 million workers are supposed to undergo medical checkups each year, but usually only about 80 percent of that number do so, it said.

According to the survey, 29.1 percent of company workers showed abnormal levels in blood lipid, 15.4 percent in liver function and 11.9 percent in blood pressure.

The percentage of workers with abnormalities in blood pressure rose 0.4 point from the previous year, the ministry said.

The ratio in blood lipid climbed 0.7 point and that in blood glucose gained 1.9 points, it said.

Experts say further deterioration in workers’ health, combined with severe labor conditions, can trigger a rise in life-threatening health problems and diseases, including stroke and heart attack.

The ministry attributes the increase in abnormal health readings to workers spending long hours on the job combined with a lack of exercise.

More mammograms

The health ministry plans to use financial incentives to encourage local governments to promote mammography as part of its measures to deal with breast cancer.

Officials said Saturday the ministry has included 7.9 billion yen in its fiscal 2005 budget requests for subsidies to help local governments install 500 sets of mammography equipment in hospitals and other medical institutions.

The ministry is also seeking 300 million yen to promote mammogram examinations.

The ministry said it will launch campaigns to promote awareness of mammography among medical professionals and foster more specialists who can conduct mammography examinations.

About 35,000 people develop breast cancer in Japan every year, with some 10,000 dying of the disease. It is the most common form of cancer among women.

Mammography is globally recognized as effective in early detection. But only about 2 percent of middle-aged Japanese women undergo mammogram examinations, far below the more than 70 percent in Europe and the United States.

Only about half of local governments around the nation offer mammogram checkups for their residents.

The health ministry will also step up measures through symposiums and other events to curb a rise in uterine cancer among young women.

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