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The hidden half of domestic violence

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LONG LIVE MEN

LONG LIVE MEN? By Al Knight Denver Post Columnist www.denverpost.com/opinion/knight0228.htm Feb. 28, 2001 - It took a while but at last the issue of men's health has elbowed its way onto the political stage. Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in Congress to establish an Office of Men's Health, an agency that would serve the same function as the Office of Women's Health, established 10 years ago. As it turns out, men's health hasn't compared well for some time. As recently as 1900 the life expectancy of men and women was about the same. Even as late as 1920 the gap was just one year but then things got dramatically worse. The life expectancy gap by 1998 had increased to around six years. Black males have it even worse than their white counterparts. Black women, on average, outlive black men by about seven years. Nor is that the worst of the bad news. Men don't fare as well as women when it comes to any of the top 10 causes of death. They are nearly twice as likely as women to die of heart disease. Men die from cancer at a rate nearly 50 percent greater than women. They are three times as likely to die of injuries or four times as likely to die of suicide or AIDS. They drown at higher rates, die at higher rates from violent crimes and when it comes to onthe-job fatalities they practically have the field to themselves. Prostate cancer, a uniquely male problem, makes up 37 percent of all cancer cases yet receives only 5 percent of research funding. For example, the National Cancer Insti AL KNIGHT tute spent $424 million on breast cancer last year but just $190 million on prostate cancer. Expenditures at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were even more lopsided. Last year breast and cervical cancer received $185 million in outreach and screening programs, compared to prostate cancer (no screening) at a mere $11 million. So what's the reason for this disparity. Partly it is because women have done a good job speaking up for themselves, but mostly it is that men have done a poor job. The tough guy image endures. Boys don't cry and men don't go to the doctor. There are various national studies that have shown men are 25 percent less likely than women to visit a doctor and are much less likely to have regular checkups. A significant portion of the male population continues to mispronounce prostate cancer, frequently calling it prostrate cancer. It will not be enough if men simply improve their English proficiency. They will need to change some habits if the record is to improve. There apparently is almost no health comparison that doesn't ar gue in favor of more attention for men. There was even a 1999 study at the Colorado State University on back pain. The researchers examined men and women who work on small or family farms and found out that once again it was the guy who suffered most. It is hard to predict what Congress will do with this issue, especially since Republicans who control Congress typically resist creating new government programs. Interestingly, there are about 50 sponsors in the House of Representatives and a few of them are women. The main sponsor, Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif., himself a survivor of prostate cancer, seems to have discovered a theme that just might work this year. He has, in two ways, tied the future of the bill to the involvement of - had you guessed it? - women. The first is to emphasize that women most often do the heavy lifting of making sure the fathers and husbands get needed medical attention. It's also women, Cunningham says, who have something to gain by closing the life expectancy gap so they won't be in "the unenviable position of seeing their husbands, fathers, and even their sons suffer and die prematurely." Clever move. If women are for the bill, who would have the nerve to be against it?

FROM ACFC

 

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