How Gender Affects Disease Risk
Research shows a number of diseases and conditions occur at different rates in men and women—due in part to the genetic makeup of X and Y chromosomes. For example, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women's extra X chromosome contains an extra set of protective, tumor-suppressant genes, giving them a lower risk of certain types of cancer than men.
Differences in hormones, environmental exposures, and other factors also may play a role in disease development variances between men and women. In addition, it may be that there are differences in the way men and women seek medical care—making it more, or less, likely they will be diagnosed with certain conditions.
In general, women have a higher risk for osteoarthritis; for mental health disorders, such as depression and insomnia; and for autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, thyroid disease, and celiacs. Men are at increased risk for certain types of cancer, including liver cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and others; hemophilia; and color blindness.
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