We always want justice and equality. Although the very nature of equality is not assumed: after all, the organisms of men and women are arranged differently. And it’s not just about the width of the shoulders or hips, the presence of a seductive breast in a woman or the male genital organ that proudly rises at the sight of her. The differences are much deeper.

MedAboutMe invites you to talk about these differences on World Men’s Day, unofficially celebrated on the first Saturday of November.

By the way: the first and last President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev proposed to celebrate this day. His proposal was supported in many countries, despite the fact that in November, International Men’s Day is already celebrated on November 19th. Apparently, one November gender holiday was not enough for men.​

Diseases and health of men and women in Russia

Diseases and health of men and women in Russia

It is worth starting with the pleasant fact that the average life expectancy (SLE) of Russians, according to Rosstat, is steadily growing, and this is a fact. In 2019, this figure for the first time in the history of Russia exceeded the mark of 72 years. But, like other statistics, these numbers hide others, and they are not so good.

Russia has the largest gap between the life expectancy of men and women. Women on average live 10 years longer: 78.5 years versus 68.5 for men. This does not mean, of course, that all men die as soon as they retire. The high mortality rate of men at a young and young age plays an important role in the formation of the indicator. No wonder there is a saying that any «adult man is an accidentally surviving boy.» The level of neglect of their health and safety among Russian men is incredibly high. Girls are still more careful, so they reach mature and advanced age more often.

Russian men are more prone to dangerous addictions: they are three times more likely than women to suffer from alcohol addiction. Of every 10 Russian drug addicts, only 2 are women, the rest are men. Out of 20 smokers, only 5 are women.

At the same time, men go to the doctor less often, preferring not to think about their health to the last, while among women such frivolity in relation to their body is not so common. According to the results of a survey conducted by VTsIOM, 18% of women and more than 30% of men did not appear in the polyclinic for more than three years.

According to the cardiologist Yaroslav Ashikhmina, the low life expectancy of male Russians is largely due to the disregard for their own body. The doctor’s words that there is a risk of a stroke and that serious attention should be paid to the state of one’s health, many men only smile.

But, besides the difference in behavior, there are other differences. Men and women really get sick in different ways and die from different causes.

Diseases of the heart and blood vessels, oncology and other problems

Globally, there is an upward trend in cancer mortality. But that doesn’t mean cancer is on the offensive. Several factors play a role in the growth of indicators:

  • The development of medicine, which allows more successful diagnosis of tumor processes.
  • Increase in average life expectancy. Previously, people simply did not live up to the age of oncological diseases: most often, cancer is diagnosed in patients aged 70-79 years.

Expert comment

Yuri Konev, gerontologist

The higher the life expectancy, the more common cancers. This is a disease of the elderly. Everyone can live up to their cancer, as nature intended. Every day thousands of cells appear in the body, ready to become cancerous. As long as the immune system is working normally, it suppresses and destroys them. With age, its capabilities weaken, failures begin, and “oncologically tuned” cells begin to do their job.

If a person did not waste the resources of the immune system on a daily basis to fight toxins and diseases, he could live up to 115-120 years. Today, the situation is different: people die much earlier, and 92% of deaths are associated with diseases.​

A significant proportion of premature deaths is associated with atherosclerosis. These are cerebrovascular accidents, including stroke, myocardial infarction, etc.

In the Russian Federation, women are more likely to die from stroke, men from cancer, although cancer is also common among women. But if lung, prostate, skin and colorectal cancers are the most common in men, then women are more likely to suffer from breast and cervical cancer, and only then — from colorectal cancer and skin cancer. 75% of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus are registered in men, while neoplasms in the gallbladder and ducts are more common in women: in 65% of cases. Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer, women are more likely to develop skin cancer.

With regard to stroke, before the onset of menopause, the female body is little susceptible to cardiovascular disease. High estrogen levels serve as a natural defense against heart and vascular disease. But when the level of estrogen drops, vascular problems come, which often lead to a sad outcome.

Expert comment

Vladimir Khoroshev, cardiologist

Estrogen affects the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, on which the state of cartilage tissue depends. A decrease in estrogen levels ultimately leads to flattening and reduction in the height of the intervertebral discs. This causes a narrowing of the lumen of the cervical arteries that pass through them. Reduced blood flow to the brain — sometimes up to 40%, and increases the risk of stroke with the most unfortunate outcome.

I must say that the symptoms of cardiovascular disease in men and women are different. for example, in the stronger sex, myocardial infarction can be manifested by severe compressive pain in the chest, in profuse cold sweat. A female heart attack can cause stomach or back pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and bouts of weakness. At the age of hormonal adjustment, a woman can take these symptoms for manifestations of menopause and do not attach much importance to them. Which is deadly, because in the event of a heart attack, urgent medical care is vital.

Viruses and bacteria prefer men

Viruses and bacteria prefer men

Recent studies have found that men are more susceptible to viral infections and suffer from diseases more severely than women. For example, when infected with the human papillomavirus, the stronger sex is five times more likely to experience consequences in the form of malignant neoplasms. And from tuberculosis die one and a half times more often.

Women’s immune systems are stronger, but that’s not all. Scientists from London’s Royal Holloway College have suggested that the reason is hidden in natural selection. The task of viruses is to leave as many copies of themselves as possible, and for this it is necessary that there be a “base”, a large number of living, viable carrier organisms. Therefore, it is «biologically unprofitable» for viruses to infect women’s organisms, because in this case it is possible to destroy their own base for existence.

Of course, viruses do not “plan” any such survival strategy, due to their lack of intelligence. And in general, the absence of everything, except the ability to create their own copies. It’s just that those strains of viruses that do not destroy the population of their carriers to the last individual have an evolutionary advantage.

The study revealed another interesting pattern: in regions where women give birth more often and breastfeed for longer, viruses transmitted through mother’s milk are less «contagious».

Medications also work differently.

The reasons for this lie in the differences in the body structure of men and women. For example, male kidneys contain more nephrons and filter urine more efficiently. Therefore, in particular, when transplanting a kidney, it matters whose kidney the recipient receives: it is better that the organ be taken from a donor of the same sex.

Differences in the amount of adipose tissue and water content in the body also affect the response to the drugs administered.

At the same time, clinical trials of drugs are carried out, as a rule, on male volunteers. Sometimes this leads to unpleasant consequences. For example, trials on men do not provide information on how the drug will act on a woman’s body and her ability to bear and give birth to healthy children.

In this regard, it is worth recalling the story of one sleeping pill that shocked Western society in the 60s. It turned out that the drug has a pronounced teratogenic effect, and women who took it began to give birth to children with severe defects.

Although more than 50 years have passed since then, medical students are still not taught in every university how differently the bodies of men and women react to both illness and medicine. Gender medicine is beginning to develop only now, in recent years.

And happiness is also different

And happiness is also different

An analysis of surveys of citizens of different sexes showed that happiness is understood in completely different ways by the male and female parts of society. Women in general think about happiness more often, dream about it and ways to achieve it. Men hardly think about happiness.

If we consider what representatives of both sexes consider to be the main components of happiness, then the most important factors for women are love and family, the ability to appreciate what is. And for men in the first places — social success, and often expressed in something quite material. Then — luck, luck, a sense of victory, the achievement of goals. Many do not remember the importance of the family at all, although the wording “to be needed by someone” is often present in the answers.

But there is one thing in common for women and men: both of them put health in the first place, as the most important component of happiness.

One can only guess why, with such an understanding of the importance of health, many still neglect the opportunity to undergo regular medical examinations and appear in medical institutions only when the body is already battered by ailments.

Have you already passed the general medical examination this year?

Sex differences in risk factors and natural history of oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. / D’Souza, G. et al. // J. Infect. Dis 1893–1896 (2016) 213

Systems analysis of sex differences reveal an immunosuppressive role for testosterone in the response to influenza vaccination. / Furman, D. et al. // Proc. Natl Acad. sci. US 111 2014 869–874

Differences in health indicators of working women and men in Russia / Lebedeva-Nesevrya N. A., Tsinker M. Yu. // JSSA 2018 Number 3

Male and female stereotypes of attitudes towards health in modern Russia. / Rogacheva T.V. // Medical psychology in Russia: electron. scientific journal 2010 N 4