"If a woman does not feel well, she will go to a doctor, but if a man is unwell, he will normally try and ignore it."
According to the Greek physician Hippocrates 'a wise man ought to realize that his health is his most valuable possession, unfortunately most men fail to take this advice seriously. The fact is that a man’s average life is shorter than that of a woman’s average life and for fifteen years of that life he can expect to be chronically ill.
A survey states that over a third of American men have not had a medical check up last year, while around nine million men have not visited a doctor in five years. These statistics are staggering. It is estimated that men make a 150 million fewer trips to the doctor than women, every year!
Researchers explain that this is very common in most men across the world. Most men feel that a visit to the doctor is a threat to their masculinity.
Added to this are fear, denial and embarrassment. Researchers believe that from a young age men are taught to hold their heads high and ‘get tough’. Admitting to pain or any other problems is seen as a confession to being weak and threatens male pride and machismo.
Some grim statistics
- The majority of men are too heavy for their health: 45% are medically defined as overweight and an additional 17% as obese.
- 28% of men still smoke.
- 27% of men drink alcohol at a level that could be harmful to their health.
- 41% of all male deaths under the age of 75 are caused by circulatory diseases, the largest single cause of death. Of these deaths, over two-thirds are due to coronary heart disease. Each year, over 130,000 men of all ages die from circulatory diseases.
- 31% of all male deaths under the age of 75 are caused by cancer. Each year, over 124,000 men of all ages are newly diagnosed with cancer and over 80,000 die.
- Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men alone. The number of new cases diagnosed is expected to treble over the next 20 years.
- The suicide rate among men is increasing. The rate has doubled among 15–24 year old men in the past 25 years.
Men are at Greater Health Risks than Women
Men are raised to be providers and caretakers, taking very little care of themselves and their health. As a consequence, before the age of 65 men are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from a heart attack than women, and one in three men will suffer from high blood pressure.
And although one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, few men opt to have a painless medical examination and a prostrate specific antigen blood test.
- Men are also at greater risk for stress related illnesses, with more than 30% of men more likely to have a stroke than women, yet men make up only 20% of the people in a stress management program.
- It is also estimated that more than 3 million men have early type II diabetes and do not even know it. These figures clearly show that by denying their health problems, men are paying a high price.
- Experts believe another main reason behind men having poor health is that health services also do not encourage men to look after themselves.
- Women are given more attention. Most often hospitals and clinics do not feel like ‘male-friendly’ places, causing men to shy away even more from visiting the doctor altogether.
However there is good news. Men are now more interested in their health than ever before. Increasing numbers of young men are now taking better care of themselves by going to the gym and working out regularly.
An increase has also been noticed in the number of men’s health care web sites and magazines, showing that more men are now reading about how to look after themselves. Also statistics now show that far fewer men smoke nowadays, and are more likely to visit the doctor than they were 25 years ago.