As a species, humans are living longer than ever and are generally healthier. But according to research, the life expectancy gap between men and women in the is only getting wider.
At the turn of the 20th Century females in the US, on average, out-lived men by only a couple of years. But by 2017 that gap had jumped to 5 years.
Much of the research indicates that illnesses related to obesity and stress are still some of the biggest killers of men. But as domestic roles in the home change, those statistics are levelling out.
Basically, women have opened themselves up to what have been traditionally male health problems. And since men seem to be making an effort to live healthier and longer the instances of some of those typically male illnesses are balancing out between the sexes.
Major health issues such as obesity and type-2 diabetes are becoming less prevalent in men as we become more aware of our own health needs. And one of the reasons for this is that losing weight and getting fit has never been more convenient. With more flexible work hours, easy access to good food and exercise-on-demand options (24-hour gyms, personal trainers plus a massive online wellness industry), being healthy has never been easier.
And achieving the perfect body has never been easier either. For instance, simple procedures like gynecomastia mean that any man can have that ideal chest area and get rid of those ‘man boobs’ forever. If you’d like to know more about this we’ve put a video here.
But if it’s becoming easier to stay fit and healthy, why are men still dying earlier than women? Well, while looking after your own health by working out and losing weight is great, regular health checkups can pick up on illness before it becomes life-threatening. And men are still not visiting the doctor as often as they should. The other major reason is related to male culture and the relation to risk-taking behaviours.
Heart disease is still a major killer of men around the world.
Major risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure and diabetes. Family history also needs to be considered, and cholesterol levels checked regularly. But most of these risk factors can be minimised through long term lifestyle choices. That includes exercise, diet and monitoring your health through regular checks.
Like all muscles, the heart requires blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to function efficiently. The heart’s needs are provided by the coronary arteries supply the heart with what it needs most. These arteries branch out from the centre to all areas of the heart muscle and can narrow due to cholesterol deposits. If they close enough blood supply to the heart is compromised, causing angina.
Angina itself is not life-threatening, but if it’s not dealt with and monitored, it can lead to a heart attack which is a clotted rather than the narrowed artery. This clot obstructs the highway, which prevents blood flow to the heart, and it can be deadly.
As well as regular visits to a health care professional, there are other things you can do to prevent heart disease:
- Regular aerobic exercise is key to heart health. This can include anything from walking, swimming or running. Make sure cardio is part of your gym routine.
- Try to cut down on your meat intake, especially if you eat it daily. And make sure you buy lean cuts of beef or chicken while avoiding processed meats.
- Eat lots of green leafy vegetables for heart health.
- Replace high fat and high sugar junk foods with nutrition-rich foods like fruit, nuts and yoghurt.
A healthy lifestyle decreases the potential risk of developing many cancers. But avoiding risky behaviours such as substance abuse and excessive alcohol consumption are vital. A health care professional can also assess your risk of developing certain cancers and perform specific tests if there are any concerns.
- Though there are fewer smokers than ever, lung cancer is still one of the biggest killers in men. And 90% of lung cancers are still linked to smoking.
- The most common cancer in men is prostate cancer though it’s rarely seen in men over 50 years of age. Often there are no symptoms though it can be diagnosed with a routine screening at your health care clinic.
A rectal examination to feel the prostate and a blood test are used to test for prostate cancer. The survival of prostate cancer patients has increased in recent years. However, it still accounts for almost a quarter of cancer deaths among men, so early detection is crucial.
- Colon and rectal cancer have very few symptoms in the early stages. And like prostate cancer diagnosis is often made by routine screening. Timely screening causes colon cancer almost wholly preventable.
- Testicular cancer often occurs in younger men, anywhere from the teens to the early forties. With regular self-examination, testicular cancer is treatable. Make sure you report any abnormalities such as lumps, swelling, pain to your health care professional.
One of the biggest killers in men is injury due to accidents. Much of the time, being part of a hyper-masculine environment is a significant contributor. And using common sense to avoid dangerous situations is key to minimising this risk.
Examples of common risky behaviours still causing too many male deaths:
- Not wearing safety gear such as helmets or seatbelts at the appropriate time.
- Drug and alcohol-impaired driving create life-threatening situations, not only for the driver. This doesn’t only include alcohol but also prescribed medications that impair your ability to drive. Driving when fatigued is also more likely to be done by males than females.
- Men are far more likely to die at work than women. This is still down to the types of jobs that men choose to do. However, though men are more likely to do high-risk work, they are also less likely to push for more safety implementations. This culture of stereotypical male traits being valued in particular workspaces means that risk-taking is accepted and normalised.
The bottom line
The dominant and hegemonic traits of males in most cultures may be why men die more often from sickness or injury.
Hyper-masculine environments only reinforce these risky behaviours, including a culture of avoiding regular visits to a healthcare professional. And this needs to be addressed it we’re serious about closing the gender health gap.