More boys than girls are born every year in the U.S. But any lead in health men start with vanishes with the first dirty diaper.
From infancy to old age, women are simply healthier than men. Out of the 15 leading causes of death, men lead women in all of them except Alzheimer’s disease, which many men don’t live long enough to develop. Although the gender gap is closing, men still die five years earlier than their wives, on average.
While the reasons are partly biological, men’s approach to their health plays a role too,
“Men put their health last,” says Demetrius Porche, DNS, RN, editor in chief of the American Journal of Men’s Health. “Most men’s thinking is, if they can live up to their roles in society, then they’re healthy.”
Heart disease comes in many forms. All of its forms can lead to serious, fatal complications if undetected. The American Heart Association states that more than one in three adult men have some form of cardiovascular disease. African-American men account for 100,000 more cardiovascular disease deaths than Caucasian men.
Stroke targets more than 3 million men. High blood pressure is common in males under the age of 45, according to the American Heart Association. Routine checkups can help keep that heart beating.
Your doctor can calculate your risk for cardiovascular disease based on several risk factors, including your cholesterol, blood pressure, and smoking habits.
Lung Cancer: Still a Health Threat to Men
Lung cancer is a terrible disease: ugly, aggressive, and almost always metastatic. Lung cancer spreads early, usually before it grows large enough to cause symptoms or even show up on an X-ray. By the time it’s found, lung cancer is often advanced and difficult to cure. Less than half of men are alive a year later.
So … are you still smoking?
Tobacco smoke causes 90% of all lung cancers. Thanks to falling smoking rates in the U.S., fewer men than ever are dying of lung cancer. But lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in men: more than enough to fill the Superdome every year.
No effective screening test for lung cancer is available, although a major study is going on to learn if CT scans of the chests of high-risk people can catch cancer early enough to improve survival.
Quitting smoking at any age reduces the risk for lung cancer. Few preventive measures are as effective — or as challenging — as stopping smoking. But new tools are available that work to help men quit. Your doctor can tell you more.
Men have twice the risk of doubling over with kidney stones, according to a recent study.
Roughly 7,000 men died of this form of skin cancer last year, compared with 4,000 women, according to the American Cancer Society.
Alcohol: Friend or foe?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women do. Men binge drink twice as much as women. They are also prone to increased aggression and sexual assault against women.
Alcohol consumption increases your risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. Alcohol also interferes with testicular function and hormone production. This can result in impotence and infertility. According to the CDC, men are more likely than women to commit suicide. They also are more likely to have been drinking prior to doing so.
Depression and suicide
Researchers at The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimate that at least 6 million men suffer from depressive disorders, including suicidal thoughts, annually.
Some ways to combat depression include:
- getting regular exercise, even just going for routine walks around your neighborhood
- journaling or writing down your thoughts
- communicating openly with friends and family
- seeking professional help
Your liver is the size of a football. It helps you digest food and absorb nutrients. It also rids your body of toxic substances. Liver disease includes conditions such as:
- viral hepatitis
- autoimmune or genetic liver diseases
- bile duct cancer
- liver cancer
- alcoholic liver disease
According to the American Cancer Society, alcohol and tobacco use increases your chance of developing liver disease.
Most men have problems getting or keeping an erection (impotence) at some point. See your GP if your erection problems last for several weeks.
Generally, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and exercise, can correct the problem. Some men may need medication such as sildenafil (also known as Viagra).
Your GP is likely to assess your general health because impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction, can be a sign of more serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Half of all men over 40 have had trouble getting an erection at least once. Read about the causes of impotence and where to get help.
- Find out more about impotence.