In all things, there are acute differences between men and women. Disease is no exception. In fact, if you take a holistic view of who’s afflicted with what, you’ll find that some illnesses target men over women with a staggering lack of parity. Case in point: men are also more likely to be diagnosed with nearly every type of cancer (breast cancer being an exception, of course).
If you’re a guy, that mere fact can be a predictor for what your medical future holds in store. So listen up, because here you’ll learn which diseases, on average, affect more men than they do women.
As it turns out, women actually do possess a prostate, though in the female anatomy it is referred to as the Skene’s glands. However, it is relatively rare for women to develop cancer there. For men, prostate cancer, when caught early, is not a deadly form of cancer and easily treatable, according to Concho Valley ER. If you experience frequent and painful urination, blood in your urine, or a general discomfort in the area, then consult a doctor immediately.
While it is true that both men and women are afflicted with heart disease, men are more likely to suffer from obesity, which is one of the leading factors that contribute to the diagnosis, according to Concho Valley ER. Men are also more prone to suffering from heart disease because they tend to drink alcohol and indulge in red meat more often than women.
Cirrhosis, a disease that occurs when the liver is exposed to heavy amounts of toxins, either by way of alcohol or chronic illness, is much more likely to happen to males. This disease is much more frequent in men because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are twice as likely to binge on alcohol and about 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed as alcoholics. These habits can directly lead to cirrhosis, an end-stage liver disease where the patient can only be cured through a liver transplant.
With this disease, the patient’s brain becomes progressively more damaged over the years, causing the body to shake uncontrollably and leaving the muscles slow and stiff. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, some experts believe that men are more genetically susceptible to the disease, which is one and a half times more likely to occur in men than in women. While not every case is the same, the disease is shown to break down the “dopaminergic neurons in the area of the brain known as the substantia nigra,” which affects the entire body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, men are much more likely to be diagnosed with autism in their lifetime, with a one-in-52 chance of developing autism spectrum disorders, versus the one-in-252 chance for women.
While it is unknown why the disease occurs more frequently in men than women, certain experts suggest that women are better at handling the symptoms of the disease, while men are not, and therefore more likely to receive a firm diagnosis. Another likely cause of the disease’s affinity for men is the fact that women seem less affected by the genetic mutation that exists to create the disorder.
Though women are more likely to develop melanoma before the age of 50, things begin to shift after that age, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In fact, they shift so much that, by the age of 65, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with melanoma. Then, finally, the percentage grows to three times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease after age 80.
Furthermore, when men are diagnosed, they are more likely to die, since the disease has often progressed more so than that of a typical case with a female patient. Many scientists speculate that this gender gap could simply be blamed on the fact that women are much more careful with their skin than men—though some scientists believe that a man’s skin is actually more vulnerable to the sun that a woman’s.
In general, men are more likely to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, according to a study presented by CNN. This is evident in the steep gender gap that exists in lung cancer deaths, with men two-and-a-half more times likely to die from the disease. While it’s not clear why this gap exists, certain experts believe it may be due to a difference in lifestyle factors, such as smoking, drinking, and generally avoiding seeing a doctor when you believe something is wrong.
Presented in the same study, leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, was proven to be one and a half to two times more likely to form in men than women. According to research conducted at Universiti Sains Malaysia, this fact might be the result of certain “sex-responsive” gene that makes this disease, and generally all cancers, more likely to affect males.
While it remains a mystery as to why males are more likely to get colon cancer, a disease which begins with small polyps forming on the wall of the colon, scientists estimate that men, especially those of African American descent, are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer, according to the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund. Aside from this gender difference, patients are at a higher risk of getting colon cancer if someone in their family was afflicted by it, or if they smoke, have a poor diet, and generally engage in a series of unhealthy habits.
Similar to colon cancer, men, specifically African American men, are twice as likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, says the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. More than anything, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of pancreatic cancer, with an estimated one in four cases directly caused by the nasty habit. And, since men are more likely to smoke cigarettes, it inevitably makes sense that they would be at a greater risk for developing the cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that around 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, with 76 percent of them male. Further, since anal sex presents the highest risk for contracting the disease, the vast majority of this group is made up of men who have sex with men.
The reason why this disease can be so deadly is the fact that many are unaware that they have contracted it (around 15 percent of those infected in the United States don’t know that they have it), mostly due to the fact that symptoms often don’t arise, so it’s important to get tested between partners.
Due to their exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace and increased likelihood to smoke cigarettes, males are twice as likely to receive a kidney cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. If you begin to notice any blood in your urine, sudden spats of lower back pain, fever, unintentional weight loss, or extreme fatigue, it might be time to pay your doctor a visit.
Oral cavity cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, men are two times more likely to develop oral cavity cancer, mostly due to the fact that they are also more prone to excessive drinking and smoking, which are the leading causes of the disease. One of the most common symptoms that leads to a diagnosis is a mouth sore that refuses to heal, which is why it’s important to receive regular dental check-ups since your dentist will check for any abnormalities in your mouth.
While researchers are still investigating why this cancer occurs more in men than women (four times more, to be exact), one of the leading causes has been linked to cigarette smoking, which, again, is more likely to be a habit of males, according to the American Cancer Society. While blood in the urine is a symptom that could point to a number of other illnesses and diseases, it still remains one of the lead symptoms of bladder cancer, and those affected should consult a doctor immediately.
You’re at a greater risk for athlete’s foot if you’re male, says the Mayo Clinic. Though it is unknown why this locker room disease plagues more men than women, it could be that men are less likely to change their damp socks after a workout, or are even more comfortable walking around barefoot in a shared space, like a locker room, that might have already been contaminated with bacteria. While this spread of bacteria that causes fungus on your feet is generally harmless, it can pose a greater risk when it’s spread to your hands, nails, or groin area, as these areas are more resistant to treatment than the feet.
This kind of hernia occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in your abdominal wall, causing a very painful bulge near your groin. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 25 percent of men should expect to experience an inguinal hernia at least once in their life, compared to a mere two percent in women.
In females, this occurrence is much rarer because they have the added barrier of the broad ligament of the uterus, which sits behind the muscles in the abdominal wall. Similar to other diseases, those who are genetically linked to this particular ailment, or those who smoke cigarettes, are more likely to have an inguinal hernia.
Gout, a type of arthritis caused by an overabundance of uric acid in the body, can cause sufferers to feel sharp, needle-like pain in their joints. And, since women’s bodies contain less uric acid, they are less likely to be plagued with the disease, says the Mayo Clinic. Your body’s levels of uric acid can be multiplied when you consume red meat, shellfish, sugary beverages, and alcohol, so steering clear of those products can help you avoid the pain of gout.
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 bulge can prove to be fatal when it breaks or ruptures, as it causes a bleed inside of your body, says the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. While it is more common for males, other risk factors for developing aortic aneurysms include smoking, old age, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis, or a hardening of the arteries.
Alcohol use disorder
As previously stated, men are more likely to rely on alcohol—with a certain percentage eventually developing alcohol use disorder, which basically means that the patient drinks alcohol in an uncontrolled and problematic manner. According to the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, of the 15.1 million people diagnosed with this disease in 2015, 9.8 million of them were men. Aside from gender, other risk factors for this disease include genetics and environmental factors, like poverty.
ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, 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. According to the ALS Association, 60 percent of those who suffer from ALS are male (a notable example: physicist Stephen Hawking), though it isn’t known why this disease occurs more in the male sex.