Throughout recorded human history, women have lived around 5% longer than men.
There are various explanations for this including women have two X chromosomes in their DNA and one acts a back-up to the other, women’s heart rate is higher during the menstrual cycle which offers the same benefits as moderate exercise reducing the likelihood of cardiovascular problems, men are generally bigger and taller so have more cells which could mutate and become cancerous and lastly there is evidence that production of testosterone could be the cause of a shorter lifespan.
In the case of skin cancer, the gender divide is even more startling.
Over 9,000 people are estimated to die from melanoma in the US in 2018, around 6,000 of those affected will be men.
So, why are twice as many men dying from melanoma?
The primary cause of melanoma skin cancer is the cumulative exposure to the sun. 90%+ of melanoma skin cancers are due to UV radiation.
One viable explanation is that men are spending more time outdoors than their female counterparts, thus exposing themselves to many more hours of UV radiation.
In addition to significant sun exposure, there is another reason why men are more likely to suffer at the hands of skin cancer.
A research report published in the Journal of Health Psychology in 2014 highlighted that men are not as proactive in considering their own health and this is in part due to an ingrained behavioural trait. The report asserts that men follow a cultural script about masculinity which informs their behaviour. Common phrases like “be a man” and “man-up” don’t help with regards to men proactively seeking help when it comes to their health.
Men are less likely to self-examine their own skin and we also know that men don’t get skin cancer checks as often as women.
The survival rate for melanoma is high if the cancer is detected at an early stage. If a melanoma goes undetected it may become more advanced and harder to treat.
In light of the above information, we should encourage the men in our lives to manage their skin health.
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