Topic updated: March 2013

Men's Health

There is an ongoing, increasing and predominantly silent crisis in the health and well-being of American men. Due to a lack of awareness, poor health education, and culturally induced behavior patterns in their work and personal lives, men's health and well-being are deteriorating steadily. The men's health crisis is seen most dramatically in mortality figures. In 1920, the life expectancy of males and females was roughly the same. Since that time and, increasingly, in the 1970's and 1980's, the life expectancy for men has dropped in comparison with that of women. Men's life expectancy now is over 10% lower than that of women. The average life expectancy (1991) for black men is 65 years, that of black women is 73 years. The average life expectancy for white men is 71 years, that of white women is 78 years. Over the last thirty years, the ratio of male mortality over female mortality has increased in every age category.

Men's health is obviously a concern for men but it is also a concern for women -- concern for their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers. Men's health is also a concern for employers who lose productive employees as well as pay the costs of medical care and a concern for government and society which absorb the enormous costs of premature death and disability, including the costs of caring for dependents left behind.

The relative lag in men's health is due to a number of causes. One primary cause is the cultural message that men should not react to pain in their bodies or their souls. Thoreau observed more than a century ago, that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," yet many men continue to fear the risk of appearing unmanly or merely mortal by changing their behavior or their environment in life preserving ways. The consequence is that men are at greater risk for several of the top killers of Americans -- heart disease, cancer, suicide, accidents and violence. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men. One in every five men can expect to suffer a heart attack before the age of 65. Between the ages of 25 and 75, men's death rate from heart disease is two to three times greater than that experienced by women in the same age group.

Read the rest of this article from the Men's Health Network.

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