What Are the Diseases that Most Affect Men?

Men suffer from some health problems more frequently than women. What are they? We'll discuss them in this article.
What Are the Diseases that Most Affect Men?
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 08 August, 2022

Some diseases affect men more than women. Why? This is due to multiple reasons ranging from male anatomy (men have a prostate and women do not, for instance) to genetics and habits.

Identifying these diseases is important for public health and for each individual patient. Perhaps this is one of the greatest challenges: to recognize the risk factors in order to act beforehand.

There’s a common idea that men tend to neglect their health more than women. In reality, this may not just be a myth. In Brazil, researchers found that men consult doctors infrequently and only do so when their symptoms are advanced, thus reducing the chances of early diagnosis.

Bearing this in mind, let’s take a look at the diseases that most commonly affect men worldwide.

Cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are very frequent among men than women. Here, we include myocardial infarction, which is perhaps the most fatal and life-threatening form of presentation.

However, we also have heart failure, which is more progressive, and silent arterial hypertension. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reports that more than 40% of men are unaware of their hypertensive status.

The latter is a very serious problem. Many men tend to perpetuate risky behaviors in the absence of specific symptoms of arterial hypertension that incite to change habits. They don’t change their diet, don’t exercise enough, and frequently consume toxic substances such as alcohol.

The mere fact of being male is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. However, as the years go by and people get older, the risk in women also increases due to menopausal changes.

A different situation occurs with cerebrovascular accidents (CVA). It seems that women have a higher lifetime risk of suffering them and, in addition, they have a tendency to delay consultation when they start to experience symptoms.

A man with high blood pressure
Many hypertensive men don’t know that they are hypertensive, so they don’t consult a doctor or make healthy modifications to their habits.

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Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the oncological disease that most affects men. If we add its prevalence to that of lung and colorectal cancer, we already have 40% of all cancer diagnoses among men.

Beyond the question of the male sex, there are risk factors that have been identified as circumstances capable of increasing the possibility of suffering from the pathology:

  • When the man is over 50 years old.
  • If there’s a history of the same cancer among direct relatives.
  • Having a high body mass index, being overweight, or obese.

Before the age of 40, it’s very rare for a man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thus, the American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines:

  • From the age of 50, all men should be tested for screening.
  • Between the ages of 40 and 50, men at high risk should also be screened annually.

The most certified tests for the purpose of early detection are prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is measured in the blood, and a digital rectal examination. The latter maneuver can be performed in any doctor’s office and requires no prior preparation.

Suicide and depression

Among the diseases that most affect men, depression carries a high risk of suicide. A major problem behind this situation is the gender stereotypes that hinder mental health consultation.

Many men believe that the sadness they feel and the anguish they feel are signs of weakness. Therefore, they don’t attend psychiatric services or discuss their experiences with others. This delays diagnosis and makes it increasingly difficult to act to avoid the consequences.

The paradox of the statistical data is that women attempt suicide more often, but the actual death rate from suicide is higher among men. In America, men account for 79% of all suicides.

Public mental health campaigns to raise awareness of the reality of depression seem insufficient. More and more men and women are diagnosed with this illness and suffer in isolation.

Men are more prone to suicide because they’re less likely to show their depression and less likely to have someone else recognize it early enough to treat it. -William Pollack, PhD at Harvard Medical School

A man with depression
Men with depression often hide their symptoms for a long time, delaying timely treatment.

COPD and lung cancer

One of the pathologies that most affects men is COPD. This is the acronym for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Tobacco consumption has always been the main cause of this problem. Added to this are the men who are exposed to carcinogenic substances due to their jobs, which enter the lungs when they breathe in contaminated air.

Both COPD and lung cancer notably diminish the quality of life of anyone who suffers from them. Problems with oxygenation and limitations in daily activities have an impact on coping with the condition. The fact of having to use supplemental oxygen when the deterioration is significant further hinders the possibility of leading a normal life.

Although smoking has been decreasing in prevalence for the last 20 years, the incidence of lung cancer is still a major public health concern. In this case, it’s also true that women have caught up with men in terms of the annual number of cases over the decades.

Like this article? You may also like to read: 8 Interesting Facts About Common Diseases

The diseases that most affect men are everyone’s problem

The fact that certain diseases affect men more doesn’t mean that they’re only a male problem. Women also live with children, parents, partners, and friends who are exposed to serious diseases.

Prevention is a task that requires joint efforts. Government public policies should also think of plans to reach the men who refuse to get in contact with the health system.

Meanwhile, if you’re a man and you notice that there’s something wrong with your body, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. Sometimes, a simple visit with a professional is enough to resolve something that could become complicated in the future.

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