Being a man doesn’t stop at having a deep voice or beard. It determines the risk of chronic disease, so it’s important to know what you’re up against! And while family history and lifestyle matters, gender does play a role.
Men also have shorter life expectancies compared to women. On average, they live to 84.3 years old, while women live to 86.6. However, 1 out of every 4 senior citizens will live on past age 90.1
We all die at some point. But given the odds, it’s smart to know the common causes of disease-related deaths in men. It’ll provide valuable insight on which lifestyle choices make the biggest difference.
From least to most common, here are the 7 chronic conditions every man should have on their radar.
7. Kidney Disease
In America, about 30 million adults have chronic kidney disease. What’s worse is that 96 percent of people with kidney damage have no idea. To get diagnosed, you’ll need specific blood and urine tests.
Kidney disease is most common in non-Hispanic blacks. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, or both. These two conditions frequently affect men, so take heed.
To lower your risk, control high blood pressure and high blood sugar. This will lighten up the load on the kidneys. Healthy eating, exercise, and quitting smoking are key.2
6. Alzheimer’s Disease
People joke that men are forgetful, but when it comes to Alzheimer’s, it should be taken seriously. It’s the most common type of dementia, affecting 5 million Americans in 2013. This number is estimated to reach 14 million by 2050.3
While two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women, men shouldn’t ignore the possibility.4 This progressive disease can make it hard to live independently! Memory loss, poor judgement, and mood changes are common.
About 30.3 million people have diabetes, and the numbers keep on climbing. About 90 percent of all diabetics have “adult onset” type 2 diabetes. For adult men, this is the one to look out for.
Type 2 diabetes develops after years of high blood glucose. As a result, insulin can’t do its job of helping the body use up glucose. The constant state of hyperglycemia can eventually lead to kidney damage, blindness, and nerve damage. There’s also a strong association with heart disease.7
The good news is that type 2 diabetes takes a long time to develop. If you have prediabetes, work on losing weight and cutting back on sugar to prevent it from progressing. It affects more men (36.6 percent) than women (29.3 percent).8
A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is cut off. This kills off brain cells, but getting treatment ASAP can prevent permanent brain damage. The most common symptom? Numbness on one side.
Major risk factors include smoking and drinking too much alcohol, two habits than men are more likely to pick up. Reducing these activities, plus controlling high blood pressure, weight, and diabetes, will limit the risk. About 80 percent of strokes are preventable.11
3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in America. It blocks airflow, making it hard to breathe properly.12 About 14.8 million adults have been diagnosed, but another 12 million have it and have no idea.13
More than 90 percent of COPD deaths are linked to smoking. In fact, male smokers are 12 times more likely to die from COPD than male non-smokers. Both immune and lung function also declines at faster rates.14
Compared to women, cancer mortality in men is higher, coming in at 207.9 per 100,000 men versus 145.4 per 100,000 women. African American men are the most affected, with a mortality rate of 261.5 percent.17 As for the top causes of cancer death? In men, this includes cancers of the lung (52 percent), prostate (19.1 percent), colon (16.9 percent), and liver (9.5 percent).18
With so many types of cancer, it’s tricky to group symptoms into one box. But when it comes to the most common types, lung cancer shows up as persistent coughing, chest pain and fatigue.19 Early prostate cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms, but eventually, it sparks frequent urination or weak flow.20 Colon cancer may cause bloody stools, stomach cramps, and mysterious weight loss.21
Diet, exercise, and avoiding smoking makes up just one part of cancer prevention. Get screened regularly, and don’t wait to get symptoms checked out. Early treatment is vital for successful recovery.
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Yet, between 70 to 80 percent of cardiac events affect males! Even worse, many don’t have symptoms before sudden death.
Major risk factors include high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. Almost half of Americans have at least one factor, with most being men.22
Despite the high stakes, it’s possible to prevent. Aim to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Smoking and drinking too much alcohol are big no-no’s, along with physical inactivity.
|↑1||Calculators: Life Expectancy. Social Security Administration.|
|↑2||National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet, 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑3, ↑5||Alzheimer’s Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑4||Women and Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Association.|
|↑6||Assessing Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. National Institute of Aging.|
|↑7||Type 2 diabetes: Overview. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑8||Diabetes Statistics. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑9||Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, et al. on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2017 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135:e229-e44|
|↑10||Leading Causes of Death in Males, 2014 (current listing). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑11||Men and Stroke. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑12||Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑13||Respiratory Diseases. Health People 2020.|
|↑14||U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004.|
|↑15||Risk Factors. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑16||Prevention. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑17||Cancer Statistics. National Cancer Institute.|
|↑18||Cancer Among Men. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑19||What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑20||Prostate Cancer – Patient Version. National Cancer Institute.|
|↑21||What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑22||Men and Heart Disease Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|