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Women’s health concerns that affect men

A small percentage of men will acquire health conditions that are more prevalent among women. It’s important for men to understand the signs and symptoms of these illnesses and notify their doctor if they suspect a problem.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is extremely rare in men. In fact, only 1 percent of breast cancers occur in men.

But men have breast tissue, so there is a chance they could develop the disease. Because men aren’t routinely screened for breast cancer, the condition is typically more advanced when it is first detected.

Men may be at risk for breast cancer if:

  • They are over 68 years old.
  • If they have high estrogen levels caused by being overweight, heavy drinking, or liver disease.
  • Having a family history of breast cancer.
  • Radiation exposure.

Men should notify their doctors if they experience nipple pain, nipple discharge, a lump in their breast, or enlarged lymph nodes under the arm.

Lupus

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nine out of 10 people with lupus are female. And though lupus isn’t as common for men, it’s important to seek medical attention for symptoms and understand the seriousness of the disease.    

“Lupus affects men differently compared to their female counterparts because lupus is usually severe in men,” says Aloice Aluoch, a rheumatologist at Piedmont Atlanta.  “It is not clear why lupus tends to be more severe in men, but social factors are thought to play a role.  Men tend to delay their doctor visits and are less likely to comply with medical therapy.”

Common lupus symptoms in men include fever, mouth ulcers, seizures and kidney disease.

UTIs

Only 20 percent of diagnosed urinary tract infections occur in men, but the risk increases as men age.

Common UTI symptoms in men include:

  • Burning pain during urination
  • A constant urge to pee
  • Abdominal pain
  • Releasing small amounts of urine at a time

UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics. But because UTIs are rare in men, doctors often order additional testing to rule out kidney stones or reflux.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is typically thought of as a woman’s illness, but the numbers prove otherwise.

“About 1.5 million men over age 65 years in the United States have osteoporosis and another 3.5 million men are at risk,” says Dr. Aluoch.

The following lifestyle factors can increase the risk of osteoporosis in men:

  • Smoking and alcohol abuse
  • Calcium and vitamin D deficiency
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Age
  • Body weight

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a bone mineral density test for men over 70 years old, men aged 50 to 69 who have risk factors, or men who are over 50 and have fractures or bone loss.

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