A great divide seems to be forming in disease and disorder prevention: gender! Everything from health journals to pharmacy aisles now seem to be split into two sections: “Women’s Health” and “Men’s Health.” This phenomenon has even trickled down to the advertisements you see on television. When is the last time you saw a MAN on a calcium commercial? A woman talking about the latest cholesterol-lowering drug for HERSELF? Does each sex have its own diseases to battle? Can health be his AND hers?
Osteoporosis: Although men do not experience the rapid bone density changes caused by estrogen loss, one fifth to one third of all hip fractures occur in men. Moreover, these men are more likely to die or experience disability after the fracture. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that men over the age of 60 have a 25% chance of sustaining such a fracture during their lives. Lack of exercise and resistance to calcium absorption are also key factors.
Tip to share: Pour the milk! Men and women under the age of 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium and 400-800 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Over the age of 50, these dosages increase to 1,200 mg and 800-1,000 IU to promote healthy bones! For a helpful calcium food chart, visit www.ucsfhealth.org/adult/edu/OsteoCalciumCalc.pdf.
Breast Cancer: About 1% of all breast cancer cases are male. Yet, don’t let that seemingly small number fool you. The American Cancer Society estimated that in the past (2007), some 2,030 new cases were diagnosed among men, killing about 450. Family history of breast cancer (male or female), radiation exposure, and liver disease are factors.
Tip to share: Limit your liquor! According to Kaiser Permenente researchers Yan Li, MD. PhD, and colleagues, consuming more than three alcoholic beverages daily increases the risk of breast cancer by 30%. This is most commonly explained by the hormone metabolism function of the liver. Liver damage has been shown to cause depletion of male hormones (androgens) and an excess of female hormones (estrogen). Smoking a pack of cigarettes per day also increases breast cancer risk by 30%.
Postpartum Depression: According to the journal, Pediatrics, 10% of men and 14% of women experience symptoms of depression after childbirth. Postpartum depression, sometimes referred to as “baby blues,” is often attributed to hormone fluxes in women. Other factors may also be involved in men and women such as extreme fatigue, stress due to financial strain or increased responsibility, changes in the romantic relationship and home life, and parental fears. The male version of this disorder does not seem to cause the psychotic experiences of the severest female cases. Yet, men do experience similar irritability, impatience, and aggression of the milder cases. Because depression carries a feminine stigma in the American health mindset, many men will choose not to seek help (or talk to anyone for that matter!), which can have terrible effects on parents and children. According to James F. Paulson, Ph.D of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, depressed parents are much less likely to play, sing, or read with their children.
Tip to share: Talk it out! Share your concerns with your partner and/or close friends. Seek advice of more experienced parents you trust. If symptoms do not cease, seek professional help. In the meantime, be sure to schedule in both bonding time with your new baby and rekindling time with your partner.
Heart Disease: Long perceived as a “male disease,” coronary heart disease is the main cause of death for American women! According to the American Heart Association, almost twice as many women die because of heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular conditions than from all forms of cancer combined. One in ten American women 45-64 has some form of heart disease and this jumps to one in five in women over 65. Moreover, about 25% of all American women have high cholesterol, a key factor in the development of heart disease.
Tip to share: Work it out! Regular physical activity helps increases blood flow to the heart. It also helps lower or maintain weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of diabetes. Exercise has also been proven to alleviate stress, which can damage the heart. The American Heart Association recommends 30-60 minutes of activity most days of the week.
Colorectal cancer: According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer among women. Almost equal numbers of men and women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, yet only 41.9% of men and 32.9% of women report ever having a proctoscopic exam!
Tip to share: Make it a date! All men and women over the age of 40 should have annual rectal exams. Over the age of 50, annual blood fecal tests may also be advisable. Schedule your exams and reward yourself with a nice dinner (avoiding red meats, rich desserts, and processed foods!) These are certainly not the most romantic of dates, but they just may save your lives!
Adult AD/HD: Although school aged boys are nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD as their female classmates, women are just as likely as men to have ADD and far more likely to go undiagnosed. According to Fred Reimherr, M.D., director of the University of Utah Mood Disorders Clinic, women with ADD have “much more frequent history of having been diagnosed with other emotionally based psychiatric illnesses, such as depression or anxiety,” leaving the underlying ADD untreated.
Tip to share: Spice it up! If pharmaceuticals aren’t for you, consider adding some century-tested herbs to your nutrition routine. Rosemary, Asian Ginseng, and gotu cola have been used to increase and maintain brain function since around 2596 BC! Before trying these, or any, remedies, be sure to consult your doctor.
For more prevention/treatment tips for the conditions above, please visit:
The National Osteoporosis Foundation www.nof.org
The American Cancer Society www.cancer.org
Postpartum Support International www.postpartum.net
The American Heart Association www.americanheart.org
The Attention Deficit Disorder Association www.add.org
Wishing you increased health and happiness as long as you both shall live!
© 2007 New Perspectives. Permission to copy this article is granted as long as the authors are notified and the following information is included:
Annie Passanisi is the daughter of a motivational speaker (see above) who occasionally co-presents with her mother at women’s events. If that does not tell you enough about her, she is also a Chicago-based actor, singer, freelance writer and editor, 1950s pop culture enthusiast, and swingset champion. For more information, please visit www.TheAnniePassanisi.com.