"If I had known I was going to
live this long,
I would have taken better care of
-- Mickey Mantle
According to a recent survey by Men's Health
magazine and CNN, one-third of American men have not had a checkup in the
past year. Nine million men haven't seen a doctor in five years.
Every year, men make 150 million fewer trips to doctors than women (the
disparity occurs in every age group, not just the years some women have
An American Medical Association study in 1990 found that men don't go to
the doctor because of fear, denial, embarrassment, and threatened masculinity. Billie Pugh, a Texas, heart specialist, explains:
From Little League on, you hear boys told to "shake it off."
To admit to having pain or some other problem is seen as a confession of
weakness. It threatens our male pride and our provider roles, the things
we've grown up with and that we've been taught.
The male denial factor is unrelated to occupation, age level, race or socioeconomic
status. No matter how smart a man is, no matter what kind of professional
status he's achieved, he can still ignore things he shouldn't ignore and
pay the unnecessary consequences.
Those consequences can be serious. before age 65, men suffer 2.5 times
more heart attacks than women. By age 65, one in three men suffers from
high blood pressure, a primary risk for heart attacks. Yet men are less
likely than women to have their blood pressure checked.
One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate
cancer, yet few will have the easy and painless digital rectal exam
and prostate specific antigen blood
test to detect it (women, facing similar odds of breast cancer, are
much more likely to examine their breasts regularly and have a mammogram).
Men are at greater risk of stress-related illnesses than women, yet only
20 percent of the people in the typical stress-management program are men.
Men are 30 percent more likely than women to have a stroke.
One out of three male strokes occur before age 65. Every year, over 50,000
men die of emphysema, one of the most preventable diseases. It has been
estimated that more than 3 million men are walking around with early type
II diabetes, a disease with major complications, and don't know it. Clearly,
the price of denial is high.