While illnesses don’t discriminate against race, background or gender, there are some diseases men are more prone to than women.

According to Affinity Health, these are the most common health problems men experience:

Cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases, which include heart disease or strokes, are the leading cause of death globally.

According to the World Health Organisation, one in three adult men have some type of cardiovascular disease.

Men are urged to schedule routine exams with their doctor who can estimate their risk of falling ill based on risk factors including your cholesterol level, blood pressure and lifestyle.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.  

Affinity Health explains that many respiratory disorders begin with a smoker’s cough, and with time, that cough can progress to life-threatening illnesses.

A cough can signal lung cancer, emphysema, or COPD, and these diseases all impair your capacity for normal breathing.

If you are a smoker, let your doctor know who will determine if you need a low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer.

ALSO READ: The medical tests you shouldn’t neglect in your 40s, 50s and 60s

Alcohol abuse

Men binge drink at a rate twice that of women, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men also have higher deaths and hospital admissions because of alcohol.

Drinking alcohol raises your risk of developing mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, and colon cancer. Alcohol also impairs testicular function and hormone synthesis, which could lead to impotence and infertility.

Suicide and depression

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) that there are 23 known cases of suicide in South Africa every day. 70% of those who attempt suicide have a mental disorder, the most common by far being depression.

According to the The South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP), men are five times more likely to die by suicide than women and they often use more aggressive methods.

Of the 3,774 suicides reported in South Africa, 10,861 were men while 2,913 were women – translating to a rate of 37.6 per 100,000 for men and 9.8 per 100,000 for women.

It also said that men underplay the distress caused by these symptoms drowning their depression and anxiety with poor coping behaviours, increasing their risk of the anxiety or depression to go unrecognised and untreated.

The below strategies can help overcome depression:

  • Booking an appointment with your health care provider. They may prescribe medication to treat depression and anxiety
  • Contacting The South African Depression and Anxiety Group for help. (24hr Helpline: 0800 456 789)
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Checking with your doctor before using supplements or performance-enhancing drugs
  • Getting regular exercise, even if it is just going for a quick walk
  • Journaling or writing down your thoughts
  • Communicating your feelings freely with friends and family members

ALSO SEE: WATCH: Professor Christopher Szabo talks about mental illnesses not often discussed openly

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Mayo Clinic explains that cirrhosis is a late stage of scarring of the liver caused by liver diseases and conditions such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism.

Your liver helps with the digestion of meals, the absorption of nutrients and to cleanse your body of toxins. As cirrhosis progresses, the scar tissue can make it difficult for your liver to function.

While liver damage done by cirrhosis can’t be undone, further damage can be treated if the condition is diagnosed early.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely to get type 2 diabetes at a lower weight than women. This is because men store more fat in their abdominal area than women.

Untreated diabetes can cause damage to the nerves and kidneys. It can also cause heart disease and stroke, as well as visual difficulties or blindness. Diabetes in men increases the risk of low testosterone levels and sexual dysfunction, which can result in elevated levels of despair or anxiety.

The most effective way to manage diabetes is to eat healthy and exercise. It is vital to see your doctor for routine diabetes testing if you have a family history of diabetes.

Skin cancer

The American Academy of Dermatology Association reports that white adolescent males and young adult men are about twice as likely to die of melanoma as are white females of the same age. It also says that by the age of 50 men are also more likely than women to develop melanoma.

You can prevent skin cancer by using a sunscreen every day. It also helps to wear long sleeves and slacks, hats with wide brims and sunglasses. Additionally, you can reduce your risk of skin cancer by avoiding UV radiation. Sources of radiation include tanning beds or sunlamps.

A study conducted in the Netherlands found that men’s skin reacted more intensely to UV rays than did women’s skin. Research also shows that women’s skin may be better at repairing the damage caused by UV rays.

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