It is a longstanding, well-documented fact: Females outlive males in the U.S. according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The current gap widened from 5.1 years in 2019 to 5.4 years in the first half of 2020 thanks largely to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is there a gap? And how do we close it?
Researchers point to a few causes. For example, men take more risks, and work in more hazardous fields. But men also have shorter lifespans because they often ignore their own health, experts say.
Men skip routine health screenings and doctor visits more than women do. This can result in missed warning signs for serious health problems and missed opportunities for early treatment according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Education can help close the gap. Consider sharing this list of healthy behaviors and actions with male employees, coworkers, and loved ones:
Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and lean protein, and fewer sugars and saturated fats.
If 45 or older, get screened for colorectal cancer. It’s cheap, painless, and easy.
If 40 or older, ask your doctor about prostate cancer screening.
Drink alcohol in moderation.
Lose weight to reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Exercise more. Sit still less.
Wear your seat belt.
Mental health and wellness issues are vital for everyone, but men are often more reluctant to discuss feelings of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Researchers believe that is partly why men have a greater rate of suicide.
The increased reliance on telehealth visits brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has opened new doors. Many believe telehealth counseling, where doctor and patient communicate by phone or through live video, is ideally suited for those experiencing depression, sadness, worthlessness, or thoughts of suicide.
Ultimately, the best offense is a good defense in the healthcare game. Health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels are vital, especially as we age.
Colorectal cancer screening, which is both simple and inexpensive, could cut colorectal cancer deaths by 60%, according to the American Cancer Society. More than 50,000 people die from the disease each year.
Prostate cancer strikes about 1 in 8 men in the U.S. Older men, Black males, and men with a family history of the disease face the highest risk. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that most men discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctors at age 50.
That organization recommends that men at high risk, especially those with relatives who developed prostate cancer at an early age, begin those discussions at age 40.