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While men and women are equally vulnerable to many diseases and conditions, gender not only plays a role in who is more likely to develop certain illnesses, but how they’ll be affected by them. Some diseases are gender-specific; for example, only women can get cervical cancer and only men can get prostate cancer.
We’re here to highlight eight medical conditions that both men and women can develop, but that tend to be seen mostly in men, sometimes having a more serious impact on their health than their female counterparts.
1. Parkinson’s disease: Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women. In Parkinson’s disease, the brain becomes progressively more damaged over the years. The muscles become slow and stiff and the patient’s body will shake uncontrollably.
2. Autism: It’s becoming clearer as we find out more about autism that males and females most likely develop it at similar rates, but it’s more commonly diagnosed in boys and men than in girls and women. This is because the outward symptoms are more visibly expressed in males, while females tend to use coping mechanisms to mask their symptoms.
3. Melanoma: Melanoma is a skin cancer that men are more likely to develop after age 65, while women tend to get it younger. It’s more likely to be serious in men. Some doctors and scientists believe that lifestyle has much to do with the gender disparity. Women are generally noticed to be more careful with their skin than men.
4. Pancreatic cancer: Men are more commonly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of pancreatic cancer, and men smoke cigarettes at higher rates than women.
5. Gout: Gout is a type of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the body. Patients can feel sharp, needle-like pain in their joints. Estrogen helps women’s bodies flush out uric acid; therefore, they are less likely to develop gout. Consuming less red meat, shellfish, alcohol and sugar can decrease your chances of having gout flare-ups.
6. Aortic aneurysm: When a bulge occurs in your aorta, the main artery supplying blood from your heart to the rest of your body, it results in an aneurysm. This can be fatal if it breaks or ruptures, as it causes a bleed inside of your body. It’s more common in men with other risk factors including smoking, old age, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
7. ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease): Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, occurs when the nerves in the brain and spinal cord slowly deteriorate, causing sufferers to lose control over their muscles. It’s 20% more common in men than women, and it’s unknown as to why.
8. Kidney stones: Diets high in protein and salt make kidney stones more likely to develop. Men tend to have a greater intake of both. Dehydration also plays a significant role in kidney stone formation.
Your Leaders in Whole-Person Health Care
Whatever your gender, you need to care for yourself in many of the same ways, including eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, not smoking and regularly visiting your primary care provider. Since women are more likely to visit the doctor than men, this gives them another edge in staying healthy.
We want to encourage men and women of all ages to connect with your primary care provider for your annual check-ups, and especially if you’re not feeling well. Developing a trusting, ongoing relationship with your doctor will keep you healthy in body, mind and spirit. Visit us here to feel whole.