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Are women healthier than men?

Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine Specialist

A 2007 analysis from the National Center for Health Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that women's life expectancy is 80.4 years compared with 75.3 years for men. 

I know a lot of guys may not want to hear this, but men, in general, are less healthy than women by practically any measure. Life expectancy for men is currently about 75 years. For women: 80 years. About twice as many men as women die each year from heart attacks. And the rates of other major diseases such as stroke, diabetes and chronic lung disease are all higher for men.

Unfortunately, men themselves are part of the reason for this state of affairs. Not only do many men not take care of themselves the way they should, they don't have the same attitudes about disease prevention that women tend to have. Consider this: Compared to women, men make half as many visits to their doctors for preventive care.

These differences become more acute as men pass the 50-year mark.

How come? First of all, many men are in denial about their prospects for becoming ill. For many men, getting sick or having a disease is viewed as a sign of weakness or failure. If you think like this, you don't have much motivation to go to a doctor for an annual checkup, or to have some seemingly minor bump, rash or pain properly evaluated. Easier to just suck it up and drive on, so to speak. But, with this attitude, health problems, such as cancer or heart disease can get steadily worse. By the time a man finally seeks help, the problem is much more difficult to treat.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.