5 Reasons Being a Woman Is Good for Your Health
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No one said it was easy being a woman. But it does have some advantages for example, women outlive men by five years on average.
Research indicates that women also have a lower risk than men of developing several medical conditions. Here's a look at five of them:
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Based on an analysis of seven studies, University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers reported that men are 1.5 times more likely than women to develop Parkinson's disease.
One reason for the difference, the researchers said in their 2004 study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, may be that estrogen protects women against the neurodegenerative disorder. The effect, however, was not well understood.
Among those who have Parkinson's, some symptoms may be more pronounced in women. For example, female patients suffered more chronic fatigue than male patients did in a study conducted by researchers at Akershus University Hospital in Norway and published last year in the journal Movement Disorders.
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Women are less likely than men to develop hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. The incidence rate for men is approximately three times higher, according to a 2010 report by the CDC.
Researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy reached a similar conclusion in 2001 after studying 417 Italian patients, 313 of them with liver cirrhosis (a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma) and the rest with hepatocellular carcinoma. The study appeared in the journal Gut.
And women with fatal cases of liver cancer may live months longer than men with the disease. University of Pittsburgh researchers discovered that women whose tumors could not be surgically removed lived five months longer, on average, according to a 2008 study published in Hepatology International.
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Of the estimated 68,000 people in the United States who were diagnosed with melanoma in 2010, nearly 39,000 or 57 percent were men, according to the National Cancer Institute.
One reason for the lower incidence rate among women could be that they take more preventive steps in protecting their skin. In a survey of 31,428 Americans by Centracare Clinic researchers in Minnesota last year, 11.2 percent of women said they stay in the shade, compared with 6.2 percent of men. The study appeared in the American Journal of Surgery.
(Beyond gender, University of Texas Medical Branch researchers found an association between melanoma rates and people's income. Melanoma was more common among Americans with higher incomes, who perhaps more commonly exposed themselves to the sun. However, those who were less well off were more likely to be diagnosed at later stages of the disease and had worse survival rates, according to a 2005 review published in Medical Science Monitor.)
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Women seem less likely than men to develop Barrett's esophagus, a condition in which the lining of the esophagus is damaged by stomach acid. The condition was half as common in women as men among Mayo Clinic patients being treated for esophageal problems, according to a 2006 study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch also found that Barrett's esophagus was more common among men. Their 2009 study was published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences.
And in examining hospitalizations linked with gastroesophageal reflux disease last year, researchers at the Portland VA Medical Center in Oregon said they found both Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer to be more common in male than female patients. The study appeared in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Female sex hormones may protect women from developing Barrett's esophagus, but further work is needed to understand the differences, researchers at University of Regensburg in Germany wrote in a 2009 review in the journal Zeitschrift für Gastroenterologie.
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Head and neck cancers
Women are about one-third as likely as men to develop squamous cancers of the head and neck, according to a 2005 study published in the cancer journal CA. (Squamous cancers arise from thin, flat cells found in the skin's surface and the lining of the body's organs and passages.) And National Cancer Institute researchers found that male smokers had higher incidence rates of head and neck cancer than female smokers, according to a 2007 study in the journal Cancer.
In a study published in Cancer last year, researchers suggested that higher estrogen and progesterone levels may lower women's risk for head and neck cancers and cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and esophagus.
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