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
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