The 8 Most Common Diseases in Men

There are several common diseases in men, and many of them are associated with the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Here, we'll present the 8 most important ones.
The 8 Most Common Diseases in Men
Samuel Antonio Sánchez Amador

Written and verified by el biólogo Samuel Antonio Sánchez Amador.

Last update: 09 July, 2023

It’s well known that men live less than women on average. Whether due to pathological events or cultural issues, in certain regions, men live 5 years less (81 years) than their female counterparts (86.5 years). There are common diseases in men that can explain part of this age difference, especially if we look at cancers and vascular conditions.

As indicated by the Statista portal , men are more likely to consume tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, and practically all the drugs available. The death rate from reckless driving is also 3 times higher in males and 62% of homicides are of men at the hands of men, which partly explains the reduction in life expectancy.

With all these data, it’s clear to us that cultural factors, the consumption of certain substances, and male physiology itself make certain diseases that are much more prevalent in this genre. Keep reading, because here we’ll tell you the 8 most common diseases in men and how to detect them in time.

What are the most common diseases in men?

First of all, it’s important to emphasize that we’re going to look at diseases that are almost exclusive to or much more prevalent in the male gender to build this list. Otherwise, the conditions mentioned would be practically the same for men and women: Allergies, colds, flu, hypertension, eye problems, etc.

To understand which are the most prevalent conditions in males, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the 10 leading causes of death in men. We’ll show them to you in the following list:

  • Heart disease takes 24.2% of men’s lives. This percentage decreases to 21.8% in women.
  • Cancer kills 22.5% of men on the planet. Again, this data is somewhat friendlier in the female gender, with 20.7%.
  • In third place are unintentional injuries, responsible for 7.4% of the lives lost. This pathological group accounts for 4.4% of deaths in women.
  • In descending order, the rest of the diseases are grouped as follows: Chronic respiratory diseases of the lower airways (5.2%), cerebrovascular accidents (4.2%), diabetes (3.1%), Alzheimer’s disease (2.5%), suicide (2.5%), chronic kidney disease (1.8%), and liver disease (1.8%).

The comparison between the masculine and feminine gender is at least curious, as injuries are the third cause of death in men, while in women, they occupy the sixth place. At the same time, suicide isn’t even among the 10 causes of female death. Now that we’ve laid the foundations, let’s see what the most common diseases in men are.

1. Prostate cancer

This type of malignant neoplasm is undeniably among the most common diseases in men, as the prostate is a unique glandular organ of the male biological gender. In a normal situation, this structure acts as a secondary bladder and exerts pressure so that semen is expelled through the outer urethra.

As indicated by the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC), more than 1,200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year. 1 in 8 men will suffer from this malignant neoplasm in their lifetime, which translates into 1 death for every 41 male inhabitants on Earth. Some of its most common symptoms are the following:

  • Frequent, interrupted urination, or urine production that requires an active effort to be expelled
  • An urge to urinate frequently at night
  • Blood in urine and seminal fluid
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Discomfort and pain when sitting, due to the enlargement of the prostate

Active surveillance, radiation therapy, and radical prostatectomy are the treatment options for the early stages of this cancer. The relative survival rate 5 years after the diagnosis of its localized and regional variants is approximately 100%. However, when the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body, only 1 in 3 men survive.

In all its stages combined, the survival rate for prostate cancer is 98%. The general prognosis is excellent.

2. Lung cancer

Among the most common diseases in men is lung cancer.
One of the most important risk factors for the development of lung cancer is smoking, which is usually more pronounced in men.

Unfortunately, we haven’t left the world of neoplasms yet. As the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates, the number of women who smoke is much lower than that of men. Around the world, around 40% of men are smokers, while this percentage drops to 9% in the female gender. For this reason, lung cancer is eminently male.

According to the AECC, lung cancer is number 1 in terms of male neoplasms, causing more than 22% of deaths from malignant tumors in men. The incidence is up to 5 times higher in males than in females. Some of its symptoms are the following:

  • A persistent cough that worsens over time
  • Constant chest pain and shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Cough with bloody sputum
  • Constant tired feeling
  • Noticeable weight loss with no apparent cause

Unfortunately, the prognosis for lung cancer is much less promising than for prostate cancer. Only 17% of men survive 5 years after diagnosis, as cure rates drop dramatically when tumors expand to lymph nodes and other associated structures (at which point symptoms begin to appear).

Cigarette smoking is associated with 90% of lung cancer deaths. The best decision a human being can make when it comes to health is never to start smoking.

3. Unintentional injuries

Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in men, while they rank sixth in women. Although they’re not chronic diseases per se, they can be complicated by infections, side effects, and difficulty in healing. Some examples of situations that cause this type of injury are the following:

  1. Car accidents, which are much more prevalent in men than in women. Drug addiction and alcoholism are much more common in men, something that can be linked to the number of road disasters.
  2. Slip and fall accidents. Exercising regularly and drinking in moderation can reduce the risk of falling and breaking a bone or tearing musculoskeletal structures.
  3. Accidents due to manipulation of defective products and machinery. For cultural reasons, men are much more associated with physical work. For this reason, workplace injuries are much more common in this genre.

4. Stroke (CVA)

According to the US National Library of Medicine, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when the flow of blood to a part of the brain stops. In the event that the blood flow is drastically cut off for a few seconds, the neurons and brain tissue don’t receive nutrients and oxygen, so they end up dying.

This is one of the most common diseases in men, as its incidence is 33% higher in men than in women. There are 2 main variants within strokes:

  1. Ischemic stroke: Occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain becomes blocked by a clot, either by a thrombus or by an embolus that travels from another part of the body to a cerebral artery. Represents 80% of strokes.
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and floods the surrounding tissue with blood. Aneurysms (cluster-shaped enlargements of a weakened vessel) are common causes of this type of stroke. They represent 20% of the total.

The death rate 30 days after suffering a stroke is 28%, an astronomical figure when we consider that it is a typical condition in high-income countries. Men are especially susceptible to this clinical picture mainly because they’re more likely to be hypertensive, obese, smokers, and diabetic.

Half of American men are hypertensive. It’s not surprising that this condition is so common in the male gender.

5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease presents 2 variants that usually appear simultaneously: Emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Put simply and quickly, in this condition, the bronchi become clogged (bronchitis) and the lung is destroyed (emphysema) as a result of breathing in tobacco smoke and other long-term harmful chemicals.

As indicated by the EpocSite portal , the prevalence of COPD in regions such as Spain is 10.2% in men between 40 and 80 years of age, while in women the figure stands at 5.7% in the same age group (almost half). Some of the manifestations of this pathological group of the lower respiratory tract are the following:

  • Shortness of breath and excessive tiredness, especially when doing physical activities
  • Wheezing and tightness in the chest
  • Chronic cough with mucus of variable color
  • Very frequent respiratory infections

One of the first steps in treating the disease is to reduce smoking. Medications that make breathing easier for the patient are also used, such as bronchodilators, inhaled steroids, combination inhalers, oral steroids, theophylline, and many more. Oxygen therapy is used in the most severe cases.

The life expectancy of men with COPD ranges between 10 and 20 years after diagnosis, and much less if the patient doesn’t stop smoking.

6. Depression and suicide

Unfortunately, depression is another of the most common illnesses in men and women alike. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people are affected by this psychiatric condition, being the main cause of disability worldwide.

Women are almost twice as likely to be depressed, but men commit suicide much more. For example, in countries like Russia, 5.8 boys kill themselves for every girl who decides to take the same escape route.

Depression presents with symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, trouble maintaining regular sleep, changes in appetite (stopping or overeating), constant sadness, feelings of hopelessness, and intrusive, self-injurious thoughts. Faced with any of these signs, a visit to a psychiatrist is important.

Seeking professional help doesn’t indicate a lack of “manliness” or “masculinity.” Like any other physical condition, depression must be treated on both pharmacological and psychological fronts.

7. Diabetes

Among the most common diseases in men is diabetes.
The macro and microvascular complications of diabetes are responsible for the high morbidity and mortality of poorly controlled diabetes.

Although diabetes is a global medical problem, it’s most commonly associated with men. According to professional sources, the frequency of prediabetes is 20.2% in the adult population, with a percentage of 23.6% of men and 17.1% of women. The situation worsens more when the picture evolves, as 7.3% of men are diabetic, compared to 3.7% of women.

Type 2 diabetes (the most common) is defined as “a disability in the way the body regulates and uses the level of sugar (glucose) as fuel in the body.” This long-term condition increases blood sugar levels and causes tissue damage, even causing loss of vision (in conditions such as diabetic retinopathy).

Without a doubt, the biggest triggers for this type of diabetes are lack of physical activity and obesity. Leading a healthy lifestyle drastically reduces the chances of presenting this clinical picture in adulthood, whether you’re a man or a woman.

In recent years, premature mortality from diabetes has increased by 5%, a significant figure.

8. Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer automatically becomes one of the most common diseases in men, as people with female genitalia can’t suffer from it. In any case, it’s not an excessively common neoplasm, as it only appears in 1 in 250 men, as indicated by the portal.

In addition, because it can be treated successfully in the vast majority of cases, the probability that a man will die from a testicular tumor is very low, 1 in 5,000 cases. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s a clinical entity that should be taken lightly: Scrotal self-examinations are necessary once a month in order to detect any lump prematurely.

Surgery to remove the entire affected testicle is usually enough to tackle this disease. If remnants of the cancer remain, radiation therapy is used.

The most common diseases in men: A question of bad habits

The vast majority of common diseases in men can be included under the umbrella of vices, specifically if we talk about tobacco. Without going any further, 3 of the 8 diseases cited (COPD, stroke, and lung cancer) are directly influenced by cigarette smoking, so the tips are self-explanatory at this point.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is always necessary, but it seems necessary to emphasize it even more in the male sphere, as men are more likely to take drugs, consume alcohol, have traffic accidents, and have hypertension or diabetes.

If the deconstruction of masculinity has taught us anything in recent decades, it’s that taking care of yourself and wanting to have a prosperous future isn’t only a woman’s business. Physical well-being isn’t associated with “femininity”, but with the right to a full life that we all have until the moment we die. Caring for yourself is vital, whether you’re a man, a woman, or a non-binary person.

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