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I've heard that women live longer than men and have better overall health. Is that true?

On the average, the American man lives 5.4 years fewer than does the average women. In 2002, male life expectancy was 74.5 years, while female life expectancy was 79.9 years. Why men come out on the short end of this equation is not clear. Men tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen, which we know is associated with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and high blood pressure. Heredity, hormonal effects and possibly stress also seem to play a role. Women on the other hand, are more likely to take better care of them selves, share their stress with others, and tend to gain weight around the hips than around the abdomen.

We also know that men are more likely to smoke, use elicit drugs, and take more health risks in general. This may explain why they have a higher risk of dying from accidents, suicide and homicide.

According to recent Mayo Clinic article, in 2002 nearly 2 million men died - more than half due to heart disease and cancer.

This is a breakdown of the 10 leading killers of American men in 2002 based on statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004:

1 Heart Disease 28.4
2 Cancer 24.1
3 Unintentional injuries 5.8
4 Stroke 5.2
5 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 5.1
6 Diabetes 2.8
7 Influenza and Pneumonia 2.4
8 Suicide 2.1
9 Kidney Disease 1.6
10 Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis 1.5

The good news for men is that by doing some very simple, common sense things they can reduce their risk for all of these causes. Maintaining healthy life style is incredibly important and following these preventive measures:

  • do not smoke or use other tobacco products
  • do not drink alcohol in excess
  • eat a varied diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat foods
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week
  • keep your cholesterol levels in normal ranges
  • control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
  • control your blood pressure
  • talk to your doctor about a low daily dose of aspirin

If we add to this list some very simple measures, we can reduce the risk even further. These would include:

  • always wear a seatbelt
  • do not drive if sleepy or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • take precaution with all toxic substances
  • wear a helmet when riding a motorcycles, bicycles or four-wheelers, and snow skiing
  • get a flu shot every year
  • share your worst moments with someone else (pastor, friend, psychologist)
  • never use street drugs

Knowing your hereditary risks is extremely important and something you should discuss annually with your personal physician. A good physical exam, knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, PSA level, and exercise capacity can help you and your doctor outline a better strategy to live better and longer and enjoy a more fruitful life.


Galichia Medical Group, P.A.
2600 N Woodlawn
Wichita, KS 67220

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