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Sunday, 10 April 2016

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Here's why men die 5 years earlier

There's a saying that only the good die young. But research says the tough can too...

Men -husbands, fathers, brothers or adult sons - may need extra prodding when it comes to matters of health.

That's because men, especially the ones that think of themselves as tough guys, are very unlikely to reveal symptoms or health problems, or seek help from a doctor. In fact - some strong, independent women are also unlikely to reveal the extent of their suffering to caregivers about health issues - according to a study at Rutgers that seems to indicate that self-reliance is bad for your health no matter your sex...

But for men, this stoicism appears to be downright deadly.

Tough guy attitude

"The question that we wanted to answer was why do men die earlier than women?" said Diana Sanchez, associate professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences. "Men can expect to die five years earlier than women, and physiological differences don't explain that difference."

Dr. Sanchez and study co-author, Mary Himmelstein, believe this "tough guy attitude" may be the reason why.

For their study, reported in Preventive Medicine, Himmelstein and Sanchez asked about 250 male participants to fill out an online questionnaire aimed at getting their opinions about manhood and relative attributes of men and women.

The participants also answered questions about doctor preference. The higher they scored on the masculinity scale, the more likely participants were to prefer a male doctor over a female doctor.

The researchers then recruited 250 male undergraduates at a large public university. They filled out similar questionnaires, and then each subject was interviewed by pre-medical and nursing students - both male and female - about their medical conditions. The interviews took place in an environment made to feel like a doctor's office - in clinical examining rooms with interviewers wearing white coats. The higher the subjects scored on the masculinity scale, the less likely they were to discuss their symptoms frankly with the male interviewers.

In the research published in The Journal of Health Psychology, Himmelstein and Sanchez interviewed 193 students (88 men and 105 women) at a large, public university in the northeastern United States, and a separate sample of 298 people, half men and half women, from the general population. They found, as they expected, that men who held strongly traditional opinions about masculinity were less likely to seek medical help, more likely to minimize their symptoms and suffered worse health outcomes than women and men who didn't share those opinions.

However, they also discovered that women who thought they should be brave and self-reliant - according to their responses on questionnaires - were less likely to seek treatment, more likely to put off seeking medical help and less likely to be forthcoming with their doctors than women who did not hold bravery, toughness and self-reliance as core values.

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