Diseases More Common In Women
Many diseases affect both women and men alike but some diseases occur in women at a higher frequency. For example, gallstones are three to four times more common in women than in men. About 18% of women compared to 6% of men in the U.S. suffer migraine headaches, a ratio of three females to one male. Other conditions which plague women more often than men include irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract infections.
Urinary tract infections, including cystitis (bladder infection) and kidney infection (pyelonephritis) are significant health problems that especially affect women. Kidney disease is a leading cause of high blood pressure (hypertension). And, after age 50, hypertension is more common in women than in men.
Also more common in women than men are the autoimmune disorders (for example, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and lupus). In these diseases, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue. Autoimmune disorders afflict at least 12 million Americans and 3/4 of them are women. One autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, affects approximately 2.1 million Americans, with 2/3 of the sufferers being women.
Osteoporosis, a condition in which bone density decreases, occurs in both men and women. Overall, however, it is more of a major health concern for women. Some studies have reported that as many as one of every two women over 50 will suffer a fracture related to osteoporosis in her lifetime. By age 65, some women have lost half of their skeletal mass. A woman’s doctor can assess her bone density and make recommendations as to how to prevent further bone loss.