Gender Differences in Disease Susceptibility

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26th Sep 2017 Health Reference this

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Stephanie Bonello

Men are more susceptible than women for certain diseases. Discuss.

How men and women behave and play their roles in their own culture is dictated by the norms and values based in that particular society, and this gives rise to gender differences. This means that there will also be consequently gender in-equalities, in other words differences between men and women which favour one gender to the other. For instance generally a country’s long cancer mortality rate is much higher in men and this can be linked to the fact that some societies consider it attractive and masculine when a man smokes, yet it is frowned upon if taken up by a woman (World Health Organisation, 2015).

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There are a number of diseases that affect men more than woman, these include heart disease which has been stated in literature to be the number one killer of men, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and dementia. Yet interestingly many of the causative factors that increase the risk of acquiring such a disease are preventable, such as smoking, hypertension and high cholesterol (Wedro & Patrick Davis, 2014).

Taking this into consideration makes us wonder about the psychosocial issues men may have to deal with. In most studies, it has been reported that women tend to suffer more from depression than men.Although this could be the result because due to the masculinity stereotypes in most societies if a man admits to depression they may be seen as weak, and it takes a hit to their ego. They also may be coping with depression less effectively than women. Men are more likely to use other strategies in order to avoid dealing with depression such as denial, distraction, and excessive alcohol consumption, whereas women are more likely to accept depression as an illness that they may need to ask for help to deal with. This means that men also have more limited ways to express their emotional selves in the workplace or at home than women because crying and expressing emotional feelings is more socially acceptable for women than men, which in turn relieves stress (Smith, 2015).

Similarly, there has been research on how different people cope with disasters, for instance a, hurricanes or tornadoes and these studies support the notion of men’s destructive methods for coping. There seemed to show an increase in alcohol consumption and depression when related to the occurrence of a personal disaster among men however there was no correlation found of these two factors in relation to women.Thus, when faced with stressful situations, men seem to engage more in roles consistent with the stereotypical concept of masculinity which in the end contribute to their greater susceptibility to certain diseases such as coronary heart disease. In contrast women’s coping strategies when dealing with severe stress play more into what is stereotypically seen as the female role for instance asking for help and these may be considered cardioprotective (Wedro & Patrick Davis, 2014).

These same concepts can be applied when men are faced with a disruption of the traditional male roles that have been set in the culture that they live in, for years. Although women have changed their traditional “stay at home” role model years ago a typical gender specific norm for men are that they are seen the breadwinner and provider so when they have had to cope with sudden and unexpected financial uncertainty, if they say lose their job, this may lead to maladaptive coping strategies which result in this decline of health for men. In addition there are most likely to be stigmas in association with asking for help or seeking social interventions that are available to them. Consequently, these interventions that are aimed at reducing the traditional coronary risk factors are unlikely to have a dramatic impact but rather, behavioural interventions need to be designed and set into place so that we may increase social support, decrease depression, and improve lifestyle behaviours and coping skills. Considering that many of these psychosocial factors are differentially linked to notions of masculinity and femininity, the design of gender-specific interventions may prove to be beneficial (Weidner & Cain, 2003).

A relatively recent study has also reported published in 2008 by Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, New Blood Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester have reported findings that men’s higher risk for heart disease, compared to women may also be related to the specific effects of sex hormones. The study involved 933 men with an average age of 19 years and looked at the interaction of estradiol, estrone, testosterone and androstenedione and how they influenced three of the six major risk factors for heart disease: high cholesterol, hypertension and obesity. The researchers found that estradiol and estrone (together, called estrogens) were linked to higher levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL), which are associated as a bad type of cholesterol and lower levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) which are considered the good type of cholesterol in men. After looking at the associations between estrogens and androgens (testosterone and androstenedione) and the previously mentioned heart disease risks, Dr. Tomaszewski concluded that, “Our studies showed that one of the sex hormones – estradiol – was associated positively with total cholesterol and negatively with HDL-cholesterol. Circulating concentrations of another sex hormone–estrone–showed strong positive associations with both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.” Thus the study suggests that higher levels of estrogens will have a negative effect on men early in life making them more susceptible to cardiovascular disease (Zukowska-Szczechowska, J. Samani, J. Charchar & Maric, 2008).

Men are also at risk of developing cancer in the prostate, which is a walnut-sized gland just below the bladder that produces some of the fluid in semen. It is one of the most common cancers in men. Prostate cancer often grows very slowly and may not cause significant harm but some types are more aggressive and can spread quickly without treatment. Also men seem to be quite ignorant about this disease especially since in the early stages of the cancer there seem to be no symptoms. As time goes on some on the symptoms that may present are frequent urination, especially at night, difficulty starting or stopping urination, weak or interrupted urinary stream or painful or/and burning sensation during urination, even with these signs men seem to blame them to getting old or some other known disease and put off visiting the doctor for a check-up until they become quite severe. Growing older is one the greatest risk factor for prostate cancer, particularly after the age of 50. After 70, studies suggest that most men have had some form of prostate cancer, though there may be no outward symptoms (Miller, 2013). Diet also plays a role in the development of prostate cancer, which is much more common in countries where meat and high-fat dairy are mainstays. It is suggested that this could be due to the fact that dietary fat, particularly animal fat from red meat, may boost male hormone levels and this may fuel the growth of cancerous prostate cells (Derrer, 2014).

Men may also suffer from testicular cancer. This is a disease in the male sex glands in which the cells become malignant in one or both testicles. The testicles produce and store sperm and are the main source of testosterone in men and it is these hormones that control the development of the reproductive organs and other male physical characteristics (Zatzkin, 2014). Testicular cancer accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers in men. Approximately 9,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, and it is estimated that one in 5,000 are at risk of dying since it is highly treatable. Testicular cancer occurs most often in men between the ages of 20 and 39, however the median age found was 34 years of age (Sachdeva, 2014). Even though highly treatable men feel that there is a void in the information regarding such a disease and may be embarrassed to visit their physician regarding something in such a private area.

Sexually transmitted diseases affect over 19 million people in the United States each year, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). However, men may not know they are infected because many infected men have no symptoms. STDs can affect any man who is sexually active. They can occur at any age, they affect men of every race and sexual orientation. Fortunately, many STDs are highly preventable through abstinence or for those sexually active condoms may be used, though many men believe that oral sex is risk free but in fact STDs such as syphilis or herpes can be passed on anyway (T. Krucik, 2014).

HIV is another debilitating disease to male mortality, because a majority of the HIV infections result from sex between men and in the UK more men are infected with the AIDS virus than women. Also the HIV can either be asymptomatic or flu-like, so it may take them a while before they visit their physician (Winckler, 2013).

In conclusion, men have a different perception on health than women and stress more on being able to deal with illnesses by themselves without complaining or downplaying any symptoms they may have in order to avoid visiting a doctor. It is this fact that may be some of the reason that men have a shorter life span than women’s, of over five years.

References

A. Smith, J. (2013). Beyond masculine stereotypes: Moving men’s health promotion forward in Australia.Health Promotion Journal Of Australia,18(1), 20. doi:10.1071/he07020

Chicago Tribune,. (2015). Boys more susceptible to illness. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-05-25/news/0805240292_1_male-fetuses-infant-mortality-rate-boys

Derrer, D. (2014).Prostate Cancer: Overview & Facts.WebMD. Retrieved 4 February 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/prostate-cancer-overview-facts

McKinlay, J. (1996). Some Contributions from the Social System to Gender Inequalities in Heart Disease.Journal Of Health And Social Behavior,37(1), 1. doi:10.2307/2137228

MedicineNet,. (2014).Testicular Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatment – What is testicular cancer? – MedicineNet. Retrieved 3 February 2015, from http://www.medicinenet.com/testicular_cancer/page2.htm#what_is_testicular_cancer

Miller, S. (2013).Prostate cancer.MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 3 February 2015, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000380.htm

Sachdeva, K. (2014). Testicular Cancer.Medscape, 1. Retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/279007-clinical#a0218

Smith, A. (2015). Why Are Men More Prone to Heart Disease Than Women?. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/25322-men-prone-heart-disease-women/

T. Krucik, G. (2014). Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Information for Men.Healthline, 1-3. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases/men#Overview1

Wedro, B., & Patrick Davis, C. (2014). Mens Health.Medicinenet, 4. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/mens_health/page4.htm#top_10_diseases_that_kill_men

Weidner, G., & Cain, V. (2003). The Gender Gap in Heart Disease: Lessons From Eastern Europe.Am J Public Health,93(5), 768-770. doi:10.2105/ajph.93.5.768

Wikipedia,. (2008).Inequality in disease. Retrieved 3 February 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inequality_in_disease

Winckler, S. (2013). HIV Symptoms in Men.Dred. Retrieved from https://www.dred.com/uk/what-are-the-hiv-symptoms-in-men.html

Worell, J. (2001).Encyclopedia of women and gender. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press.

World Health Organisation,. (2015).WHO | Why gender and health?. Retrieved 2 February 2015, from http://www.who.int/gender/genderandhealth/en/

Zatzkin, J. (2014).Testicular Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.MedicineNet. Retrieved 2 February 2015, from http://www.medicinenet.com/testicular_cancer/page5.htm

Zukowska-Szczechowska, E., J. Samani, N., J. Charchar, F., & Maric, C. (2008). Why Men Are More Prone To Heart Disease: New Research Led By University Of Leicester.Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/119844.php

1

Stephanie Bonello

Men are more susceptible than women for certain diseases. Discuss.

How men and women behave and play their roles in their own culture is dictated by the norms and values based in that particular society, and this gives rise to gender differences. This means that there will also be consequently gender in-equalities, in other words differences between men and women which favour one gender to the other. For instance generally a country’s long cancer mortality rate is much higher in men and this can be linked to the fact that some societies consider it attractive and masculine when a man smokes, yet it is frowned upon if taken up by a woman (World Health Organisation, 2015).

There are a number of diseases that affect men more than woman, these include heart disease which has been stated in literature to be the number one killer of men, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and dementia. Yet interestingly many of the causative factors that increase the risk of acquiring such a disease are preventable, such as smoking, hypertension and high cholesterol (Wedro & Patrick Davis, 2014).

Taking this into consideration makes us wonder about the psychosocial issues men may have to deal with. In most studies, it has been reported that women tend to suffer more from depression than men.Although this could be the result because due to the masculinity stereotypes in most societies if a man admits to depression they may be seen as weak, and it takes a hit to their ego. They also may be coping with depression less effectively than women. Men are more likely to use other strategies in order to avoid dealing with depression such as denial, distraction, and excessive alcohol consumption, whereas women are more likely to accept depression as an illness that they may need to ask for help to deal with. This means that men also have more limited ways to express their emotional selves in the workplace or at home than women because crying and expressing emotional feelings is more socially acceptable for women than men, which in turn relieves stress (Smith, 2015).

Similarly, there has been research on how different people cope with disasters, for instance a, hurricanes or tornadoes and these studies support the notion of men’s destructive methods for coping. There seemed to show an increase in alcohol consumption and depression when related to the occurrence of a personal disaster among men however there was no correlation found of these two factors in relation to women.Thus, when faced with stressful situations, men seem to engage more in roles consistent with the stereotypical concept of masculinity which in the end contribute to their greater susceptibility to certain diseases such as coronary heart disease. In contrast women’s coping strategies when dealing with severe stress play more into what is stereotypically seen as the female role for instance asking for help and these may be considered cardioprotective (Wedro & Patrick Davis, 2014).

These same concepts can be applied when men are faced with a disruption of the traditional male roles that have been set in the culture that they live in, for years. Although women have changed their traditional “stay at home” role model years ago a typical gender specific norm for men are that they are seen the breadwinner and provider so when they have had to cope with sudden and unexpected financial uncertainty, if they say lose their job, this may lead to maladaptive coping strategies which result in this decline of health for men. In addition there are most likely to be stigmas in association with asking for help or seeking social interventions that are available to them. Consequently, these interventions that are aimed at reducing the traditional coronary risk factors are unlikely to have a dramatic impact but rather, behavioural interventions need to be designed and set into place so that we may increase social support, decrease depression, and improve lifestyle behaviours and coping skills. Considering that many of these psychosocial factors are differentially linked to notions of masculinity and femininity, the design of gender-specific interventions may prove to be beneficial (Weidner & Cain, 2003).

A relatively recent study has also reported published in 2008 by Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, New Blood Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester have reported findings that men’s higher risk for heart disease, compared to women may also be related to the specific effects of sex hormones. The study involved 933 men with an average age of 19 years and looked at the interaction of estradiol, estrone, testosterone and androstenedione and how they influenced three of the six major risk factors for heart disease: high cholesterol, hypertension and obesity. The researchers found that estradiol and estrone (together, called estrogens) were linked to higher levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL), which are associated as a bad type of cholesterol and lower levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) which are considered the good type of cholesterol in men. After looking at the associations between estrogens and androgens (testosterone and androstenedione) and the previously mentioned heart disease risks, Dr. Tomaszewski concluded that, “Our studies showed that one of the sex hormones – estradiol – was associated positively with total cholesterol and negatively with HDL-cholesterol. Circulating concentrations of another sex hormone–estrone–showed strong positive associations with both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.” Thus the study suggests that higher levels of estrogens will have a negative effect on men early in life making them more susceptible to cardiovascular disease (Zukowska-Szczechowska, J. Samani, J. Charchar & Maric, 2008).

Men are also at risk of developing cancer in the prostate, which is a walnut-sized gland just below the bladder that produces some of the fluid in semen. It is one of the most common cancers in men. Prostate cancer often grows very slowly and may not cause significant harm but some types are more aggressive and can spread quickly without treatment. Also men seem to be quite ignorant about this disease especially since in the early stages of the cancer there seem to be no symptoms. As time goes on some on the symptoms that may present are frequent urination, especially at night, difficulty starting or stopping urination, weak or interrupted urinary stream or painful or/and burning sensation during urination, even with these signs men seem to blame them to getting old or some other known disease and put off visiting the doctor for a check-up until they become quite severe. Growing older is one the greatest risk factor for prostate cancer, particularly after the age of 50. After 70, studies suggest that most men have had some form of prostate cancer, though there may be no outward symptoms (Miller, 2013). Diet also plays a role in the development of prostate cancer, which is much more common in countries where meat and high-fat dairy are mainstays. It is suggested that this could be due to the fact that dietary fat, particularly animal fat from red meat, may boost male hormone levels and this may fuel the growth of cancerous prostate cells (Derrer, 2014).

Men may also suffer from testicular cancer. This is a disease in the male sex glands in which the cells become malignant in one or both testicles. The testicles produce and store sperm and are the main source of testosterone in men and it is these hormones that control the development of the reproductive organs and other male physical characteristics (Zatzkin, 2014). Testicular cancer accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers in men. Approximately 9,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, and it is estimated that one in 5,000 are at risk of dying since it is highly treatable. Testicular cancer occurs most often in men between the ages of 20 and 39, however the median age found was 34 years of age (Sachdeva, 2014). Even though highly treatable men feel that there is a void in the information regarding such a disease and may be embarrassed to visit their physician regarding something in such a private area.

Sexually transmitted diseases affect over 19 million people in the United States each year, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). However, men may not know they are infected because many infected men have no symptoms. STDs can affect any man who is sexually active. They can occur at any age, they affect men of every race and sexual orientation. Fortunately, many STDs are highly preventable through abstinence or for those sexually active condoms may be used, though many men believe that oral sex is risk free but in fact STDs such as syphilis or herpes can be passed on anyway (T. Krucik, 2014).

HIV is another debilitating disease to male mortality, because a majority of the HIV infections result from sex between men and in the UK more men are infected with the AIDS virus than women. Also the HIV can either be asymptomatic or flu-like, so it may take them a while before they visit their physician (Winckler, 2013).

In conclusion, men have a different perception on health than women and stress more on being able to deal with illnesses by themselves without complaining or downplaying any symptoms they may have in order to avoid visiting a doctor. It is this fact that may be some of the reason that men have a shorter life span than women’s, of over five years.

References

A. Smith, J. (2013). Beyond masculine stereotypes: Moving men’s health promotion forward in Australia.Health Promotion Journal Of Australia,18(1), 20. doi:10.1071/he07020

Chicago Tribune,. (2015). Boys more susceptible to illness. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-05-25/news/0805240292_1_male-fetuses-infant-mortality-rate-boys

Derrer, D. (2014).Prostate Cancer: Overview & Facts.WebMD. Retrieved 4 February 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/prostate-cancer-overview-facts

McKinlay, J. (1996). Some Contributions from the Social System to Gender Inequalities in Heart Disease.Journal Of Health And Social Behavior,37(1), 1. doi:10.2307/2137228

MedicineNet,. (2014).Testicular Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatment – What is testicular cancer? – MedicineNet. Retrieved 3 February 2015, from http://www.medicinenet.com/testicular_cancer/page2.htm#what_is_testicular_cancer

Miller, S. (2013).Prostate cancer.MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 3 February 2015, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000380.htm

Sachdeva, K. (2014). Testicular Cancer.Medscape, 1. Retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/279007-clinical#a0218

Smith, A. (2015). Why Are Men More Prone to Heart Disease Than Women?. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/25322-men-prone-heart-disease-women/

T. Krucik, G. (2014). Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Information for Men.Healthline, 1-3. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases/men#Overview1

Wedro, B., & Patrick Davis, C. (2014). Mens Health.Medicinenet, 4. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/mens_health/page4.htm#top_10_diseases_that_kill_men

Weidner, G., & Cain, V. (2003). The Gender Gap in Heart Disease: Lessons From Eastern Europe.Am J Public Health,93(5), 768-770. doi:10.2105/ajph.93.5.768

Wikipedia,. (2008).Inequality in disease. Retrieved 3 February 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inequality_in_disease

Winckler, S. (2013). HIV Symptoms in Men.Dred. Retrieved from https://www.dred.com/uk/what-are-the-hiv-symptoms-in-men.html

Worell, J. (2001).Encyclopedia of women and gender. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press.

World Health Organisation,. (2015).WHO | Why gender and health?. Retrieved 2 February 2015, from http://www.who.int/gender/genderandhealth/en/

Zatzkin, J. (2014).Testicular Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.MedicineNet. Retrieved 2 February 2015, from http://www.medicinenet.com/testicular_cancer/page5.htm

Zukowska-Szczechowska, E., J. Samani, N., J. Charchar, F., & Maric, C. (2008). Why Men Are More Prone To Heart Disease: New Research Led By University Of Leicester.Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/119844.php

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