We all know that when it comes to men and women, differences abound. I’m sure you can create a list of facts to back that up. But when it comes to men’s and women’s health, one difference is troubling… Women outlive men, and that gap is widening, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). On average, women outlive men by more than five years. So what are the most common men’s health issues that are contributing to this gap?
It’s the leading cause of death for U.S. men, responsible for one in every four male deaths. Between 70 percent and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in men, reports the CDC.
This cancer joins heart disease as the top two leading causes of death for men of all races—and it’s largely preventable with proper skin care and regular checkups. More men than women die of melanoma, affecting 1-in-28 white men and 1-in-44 white women.
This is the fifth leading cause of death for U.S. men; it kills about the same number each year as prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease combined. Men have strokes at younger ages than do women, largely in part to smoking from an earlier age.
This is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men, both in the United States and worldwide. Men’s lifetime risk of developing it (for both smokers and nonsmokers) is 1 in 13.
Depression and suicide
The suicide rate for men is 3.5 times higher than it is for women. With depression comes a much higher risk of suicide, which is why it’s so important for men to seek help for persistent depression.
Untreated diabetes in men can lead to erectile dysfunction and other urological problems, nerve damage (neuropathy), dehydration and damage to the eyes, kidneys and hearing. Men, after putting on weight, are more at risk for diabetes than are women.
Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking are just a few factors that increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, which can lead to complications including anemia, cardiovascular disease, decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction, decreased immune response and kidney damage.
High blood pressure
While common, it’s not inevitable and can be prevented, delayed and treated. If ignored, it can lead to heart and kidney failure, vision problems and even blindness. Stress, lack of physical activity and being overweight or obese increase the odds, as do genetics.
Highly determined by genetics, cholesterol levels can also be influenced by things like diet, activity and body weight. Cholesterol can be measured by a simple blood test. The risk increases with age and, left untreated, can lead to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.
Although many major health inroads have been made in the past hundred years, and continue to be made, the gender gap has persisted. Awareness, early screenings, adopting healthy habits with good nutrition and exercise all go a long way toward narrowing the ever-widening health gender gap.
Some possible reasons contributing to this trend? Smoking, diet, lack of exercise, alcohol and substance abuse, and a lack of routine medical care. Societal factors, like aggression and violence, risky behavior, work and life stress and the ensuing lack of proper social support (or hesitation to reach out for help) can make men even more vulnerable to illness. It’s obvious, guys. What all this means is that men need to pay attention to their health.
Rather than ignore, procrastinate, deny and defend, they need to face health issues head-on.