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Men's Health

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In 1900, women lived, on average, two years longer than men. By the late 1970s, the sex gap in life expectancy widened to 7.8 years. Although this gap has narrowed, the life expectancy of men in the United States is still 5.1 years shorter than that of women. This phenomenon is not restricted to the United States; it occurs worldwide. Men, on average, die younger than women.

While it is not clear why the life span of men is shorter than that of women, it is clear that in the United States men exceed women in 12 of the 15 leading causes of death. The age-adjusted death rates for men nationally in 2006 were more than twice as high as women’s rates in accidents (2.2), chronic liver disease (2.1), and Parkinson’s disease (2.2). The greatest disparities between men and women occurred for suicide and homicide with

men's death rates four times that of women's rates for suicide (4.0) and homicide (3.9). In only one of the 15 leading causes of death in 2006 did women's death rates exceed men's rates and that was in Alzheimer's disease (see above).

Decades of research have yielded many important clues about health and disease in men. This new knowledge, however, has not necessarily benefited men. For example, men are still less likely than women to seek medical care and are nearly half as likely as women to pursue preventive health visits or undergo screening tests. Despite public health messages about the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in men continues to increase.

Beliefs about masculinity and manhood can lead men either to take actions that harm themselves or to refrain from engaging in health-protective behaviors. The male tendency to suppress the expression of need and minimize pain is reflected in lower engagement of men in preventive health care visits and the lower levels of adherence to medical regimens than women.

Men also are overrepresented in a broad range of stigmatizing social conditions including: 1) incarceration; 2) homelessness; 3) unemployment; and 4) institutionalization for substance use and severe mental illness. The majority of jail inmates and state and federal prisoners are men. Men tend to work in more dangerous jobs than women, and men represent the majority of job-related fatalities. Among men, those who belong to racial and ethnic minority populations are particularly at risk.

Population estimate (2008)

  • Number of Illinois residents (all ages): 12.9 million
  • Number of Illinois male residents (all ages): 6.4 million
  • Number of non-Hispanic white male residents in Illinois (all ages): 4.1 million
  • Number of non-Hispanic black male residents in Illinois (all ages): 876,900
  • Number of Hispanic male residents in Illinois (all ages): 1 million

Health risk factors by gender in Illinois (2007)

  • Percent of men 18 years and older who currently smoke: 22.8 percent
  • Percent of women 18 years and older who currently smoke: 18.3 percent
  • Percent of men 18 years and older who are at risk for acute/binge drinking: 28.1 percent
  • Percent of women 18 years and older who are at risk for acute/binge drinking: 12.1 percent
  • Percent of men 18 years and older who were told by a doctor, nurse, or other health professional that their blood cholesterol is high: 40.4 percent
  • Percent of women 18 years and older who were told by a doctor, nurse, or other health professional that their blood cholesterol is high: 33.6 percent
  • Percent of men 18 years and older who report that they participate in hepatitis risk activities: 8.9 percent
  • Percent of women 18 years and older who report that they participate in hepatitis risk activities: 3.2 percent

Health care utilization by gender in Illinois (2007)

  • Percent of men 18 years and older who report that it has been two years or longer since they last visited a doctor for a routine checkup: 23.5 percent
  • Percent of women 18 years and older who report that is has been two years of longer since they last visited a doctor for a routine checkup: 15.2 percent

Mortality rates by gender in Illinois (2006)

  • Deaths per 100,000 population for men: 940.3
  • Deaths per 100,000 population for women: 663.4
    Leading causes of death (2006)
  • Heart disease - 257.0 per 100,000 for men compared to 165.3 per 100,000 for women
  • Cancer - 234.6 per 100,000 for men compared to 165.8 per 100,000 for women

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