Understanding 5 Health Issues That Disproportionately Affect Men
June has been set as National Men’s Health Month, and during June 12-18, National Men’s Health Week is celebrated. First set forth by a Congressional health education program, National Men’s Health Month has grown into a celebration that’s observed across the country. Common programs include health screenings, awareness campaigns about male-specific diseases, and other such outreach and health education activities.
And this is important. Men are much less likely than women to go to the doctor. The societal norms and standards placed upon men often make them feel ashamed to see a doctor or to admit that they are vulnerable to sickness and disease.
But men are just as likely as women to get diagnosed with serious diseases. In fact, there are a large number of diseases that are much more common in men than they are in women.
Let’s take a look at 5 of these now, to give you a better understanding of the health issues that face men around the world – and why it’s critical that men take proper care of their health.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease is the #1 leading killer of men in the United States. It’s estimated that heart disease is responsible for 1 out of every 4 deaths – 25% of the overall mortality rate in the country.
There are a variety of reasons for this. First, men are predisposed to higher blood pressure levels than women, overall. Combined with other risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes, high blood pressure can lead to sudden – and fatal – coronary heart disease.
It’s also estimated that approximately 1 out of every 3 adult men is living with some sort of cardiovascular disease – and that these affected individuals often fail to seek the help required to prevent the progression of their illness.
- Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the single most common cancer among men. It’s estimated that approximately 160,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the US every single year, and that around 27,000 deaths occur from prostate cancer each year.
However, there is good news. Prostate cancer is highly treatable when caught early, and confined only to the prostate. This is known as “local” prostate cancer.
When local prostate cancer is found, doctors can quickly take the required steps to manage the disease, and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body – resulting in nearly 100% survival rate over 5 years.
However, if the disease is not caught early, the statistics become much more dire. The 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer that metastasizes sinks to 29%, and the long-term survival rates are even lower. This means that early detection and regular physicals are critical to preventing prostate cancer from becoming lethal.
Compared to women, men are about twice as likely to develop alcoholism. The reasons for this are mostly societal – men are encouraged to drink heavily, and an emphasis on strength and impressing peers can often lead to widespread alcohol abuse in young adult men.
This alcohol abuse can easily turn into a long-term alcohol problem. Alcoholism is one of the major causes of mortality among men. Around 60,000 men die from alcohol-related illnesses and accidents per year, compared to only 18,000 women.
To combat this issue, it’s important to open up a dialogue about the dangers of alcohol abuse among men, and ensure that men have access to the tools and information they need to fight alcoholism, and to recover.
- Parkinson’s Disease
Compared to women, men are about 1.5x more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, and the onset of Parkinson’s Disease in males tends to occur about two years earlier, compared to the female population.
The current reason for this is unknown, but scientists and doctors have set forth a variety of theories, such as men being more likely to be exposed to toxins, estrogen-related neuroprotection in females, or even linking the male “X” chromosome itself to a higher likelihood of developing the disease.
- Skin Cancer
Melanoma is much more common in men than it is in women. Every year, 87,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed. Around 52,000 of these cases are diagnosed in men, and 34,000 in women.
The mortality rate of skin cancers like melanoma is also more severe in men. This can likely be related to the fact that men visit doctors much less often than women, in general – meaning that skin cancer is often not detected until it’s too late.
Men are also less likely to wear sunscreen, and are usually less aware of the risks of severe sunburns and UV damage.
Take Action For Better Health!
Whether you’re a man or a woman, share the information you’ve learned in this article with the men who are important to you.
Taking care of yourself is not embarrassing – and the men who are important to you should be provided with the tools they need to avoid the most common diseases that disproportionately affect men.
So take action this Men’s Health Month. Tell a friend. Share this information – and you just might save a life.