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What Men Can Learn from Women

by David C. Dodson, MD, Internal Medicine

Is it really a man's world in the 21st century? Not according to a recent issue of The Atlantic, whose cover story by Hanna Rossin was entitled "The End of Men: How Women are Taking Control — of Everything." One of the main points of the article is that success in the post-industrial world depends upon education, where women greatly outperform men and hence, the future could well belong to women. In part due to the loss of six million manufacturing jobs over the past decade, women now outnumber men in the workplace and now more than half of managerial jobs are held by women. One treatable medical problem afflicts four times as many men as women and holds men back both academically and professionally: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. As a result, fewer men than women enroll in college and more men than women drop out, so today 60% of both bachelors and masters degrees are awarded to women. The net effect of these changes is that women's incomes, which once lagged behind men's, have now equaled and in some areas surpassed that of men.

Are women the weaker sex? Not if looked at in terms of health. Despite their inferior health compared with women, men are much less likely to receive regular, preventive care than are women. When it comes to being proactive for better health, men need to look no farther than women who are great role models both personally by seeking medical care and on the broader societal level by advocating for women's health.

What are some of the major concerns of men's health advocates? Is there an andropause in men similar to menopause in women? Should we be screening for prostate cancer in men in the way we screen for breast cancer in women? How should prostate cancer be treated? How can we make the healthcare system more male-friendly? These are some of the issues discussed at the recent Second Harvard Men's Health Conference which I had the privilege of speaking at in April of this year. The conference organizer, Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, is author of several books on men's health including Testosterone for Life in which he argues for the benefits of replacing testosterone in aging men. Such benefits include stronger bones and muscles, increased energy and sense of well-being, improvements in metabolism, and increased libido. Controversies persist in the medical literature on all aspects of prostate cancer from the benefits or lack thereof of screening to when and how prostate cancer should be treated.

My advice to men? Get regular, preventive medical care. Don't smoke. Exercise daily — at least a brisk half-hour walk. Eat a lean diet of mostly whole grains and other plant foods and maintain a healthy weight. Consume alcohol in moderation, not more than 2 drinks per day. Keep a positive mental attitude: prayer or meditation have demonstrated medical benefits. And remember — for a longer, healthier life, women are usually excellent role models!

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