Doctors ask why concerns for women's health outweighs men's
In recent years, women's health has been a national priority. Pink ribbons warn of breast cancer. Offices of women's health have sprung up at every level of government to offer information and free screenings. Yet statistics show that men are mor...
In recent years, women's health has been a national priority. Pink ribbons warn of breast cancer. Offices of women's health have sprung up at every level of government to offer information and free screenings. Yet statistics show that men are more likely than women to suffer an early death.
Is men's health getting short shrift?
"We've got men dying at higher rates of just about every disease, and we don't know why," said Dr. Demetrius Porche, an associate dean at Louisiana State University's Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in New Orleans.
By just about any measure, men's health is abysmal. American men have an average life expectancy of 75.2 years, and even less -- 69.8 years -- for black men, compared with 80.4 years for women overall.
Men die of just about every one of the leading causes of death at younger ages than women, from lung cancer to influenza and pneumonia, chronic liver disease, diabetes and AIDS. One notable exception is Alzheimer's disease: More women than men die of it. Topping the list for both sexes is heart disease.
Cancer also strikes men disproportionately: one in three women at some point in life; one in two men. In part, that is a result of the fact that more men than women smoke, and possibly of occupational exposures.
But experts and advocates say that when it comes to government financing for the most common sex-specific reproductive cancers, breast cancer financing exceeds prostate cancer financing by more than 40 percent, with prostate cancer research receiving $394 million in 2005, and breast cancer receiving $710 million.
Men's vulnerability appears to start quite early. More male fetuses are conceived, but they are at greater risk of stillbirth and miscarriage, scientists find. Even as infants, mortality is higher among newborn boys and premature baby boys.
"It's not that we 'could be' the weaker sex -- we are the weaker sex," said Dr. Robert Tan, a geriatrics specialist in Houston.