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Men, Our HealthGenerally Stinketh

Posted Sep 13 2008 3:50am

Gentleman, I have a question for you: How’s your health? Seriously, are you feeling okay? How’s your weight? Have you had your prostate checked? What, you don’t like these questions?

If health questions make you uncomfortable, than perhaps you should read on, because guys, we’re in bad shape, according to The New York Times. I’m not referring to just a lack of exercise: we’re sick and dying at a faster rate than women.

Most of us have heard this statistic: women on average live 75.2 years and men live only 69.8. But it’s not just that we’re dying younger, we also have worse health overall, breast cancer notwithstanding.

Men have higher levels of heart disease, diabetes and cancer than women. Even though more baby boys are conceived, women outnumber men by their mid-30s, reports the Times. And among 100-year-olds, women outnumber men 8 to 1.

Some researchers think this disparity in health should be studied more intensely. “We’ve got men dying at higher rates of just about every disease, and we don’t know why,” Dr. Demetrius J. Porche, editor of the new quarterly American Journal of Men’s Health, tells the Times. Men’s Health Network is calling for a federal office that mirrors the female version.

“It’s not that we ‘could be’ the weaker sex — we are the weaker sex,” Dr. Robert Tan, who is on the advisory board of the Men’s Health Network, tells the Times. “Even when men and women have the same disease, we often find that men are more likely to die. Hip fractures stand out, for instance: women seem more likely to recover, while men are more likely to die afterward.”

That doesn’t sit well with at least one women’s rights group, many of which have fought hard to get women’s health issues studied.

“Saying we need an office of men’s health ignores the fact that men’s health always was the main focus of medical research,” Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, tells the Times. “During the first half-century of our nation’s investment in medical research, the majority of resources went to studying men and the conditions that affected men disproportionately. Is their health perfect? No. But they don’t need a movement.”

Um, okay. But will another government panel really help anyway? Beats me.

Instead, maybe we should just take matters into own hands by cutting back on drinking, overeating and smoking, which boost our levels of cancer and heart disease.

If we started exercising again, we’d see larger gains in health. It’s a lot more fun – and safer – than Lipitor anyway.

Maybe we should appeal to men’s competitive spirit: “Live longer than women!” could be our slogan.

Sure, prostate cancer research will still be $300 million behind breast cancer research, but 13,000 fewer men die from their respective disease. Men are more likely to develop prostate cancer, but on that one we can just tough it out.

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