Sobering Breast Cancer News Shows Women and Men Aren't Equal

breast cancer ribbonWhen I read about a new study that found that men diagnosed with breast cancer -- it's rare, but it happens -- are less likely to die from it than women, my first thought was: Ugh, how tragic it is that anyone, male or female, dies from the disease.

My second thought was -- sigh -- it figures women would have it worse than men: It seems like so many diseases and illnesses hit women harder than men.

Was that second inkling justified, I wondered? Or was it just bitterness brought on by the fact that I was -- at that very moment -- shivering under a blanket on the couch with a 102-degree fever, having caught a raging flu my 6-year-old daughter brought home from school and presented to me like a prize report card? My husband, meanwhile, had remained hale and hearty, altogether impervious to the germs coursing through our house.

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Curious, I did a little sniffing around and found that, yeah, a whole range of illnesses occur either with greater frequency or more severity -- or both -- in women than in men. Among them (are you ready for this?): rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, and joint pain. Not to mention, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blindness and vision problems, depression, and anxiety disorders.

Lots of factors, from hormones to access to quality health care, may be at play. And in some cases, women's longer lifespan may factor in: Because we tend to live longer, age-related illnesses may hit us disproportionately.

But as a woman who very rarely came down with so much as a case of the sniffles before she had kids and who now seems to catch every cough and itch the little angels bring home, I now am thinking that maybe it's the simple exhaustion of motherhood that ravages our system and makes us more susceptible to all sorts of illnesses, big and small.

Do you think women tend to get sicker than men?

 

Image via sunsets_for_you/Flickr

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