Looking at Sex Differences in Certain Medical Conditions

There are myriad biological factors which can cause specific diseases or conditions based on a person’s age, ethnicity, and, of course, their sex. Sometimes these examples are due to obvious physical differences (such as prostate or ovarian cancer) but they can also be a consequence of genetic characteristics or hormones, for example, testosterone or estrogen.

Sex Differences in Medical Conditions

Here are six common sex-specific medical conditions, as well as how to prevent them from affecting your life.

Hemophilia

The genetic disorder known as hemophilia is when the blood does not clot properly, leaving a wound to persistently bleed until stopped by other methods. This can be particularly worrying when it comes to internal bleeding, as the victim may not even be aware of the trauma.

The condition itself is caused by a mutation in the X chromosome passed down by the mother. Females have two X chromosome which means that the second chromosome often compensates in times of genetic trouble. On the other hand, males only have one X and one Y chromosome, hence why hemophilia almost always occurs in men exclusively.

Sadly, there is no known cure for the condition but there are some treatments available which narrow down the risk drastically. Scientists are also currently exploring the possibilities of gene therapy.

Arthritis

Autoimmune diseases affect roughly 8% of the U.S. population, of which 78% are women. The causes behind these statistics have not yet been established, but in cases like arthritis, there are various theories. One of the most common speculations is that the female’s wider hip structure is placing additional pressure on her lower joints, which would explain why osteoarthritis of the knees is particularly prominent in women. Another hypothesis is that estrogen plays a direct role.

Arthritis is currently an incurable condition, but there are small steps you can take to reduce the symptoms. These include therapy gloves suitable for arthritis sufferers to apply compression and reduce pain, eating anti-inflammatory foods (such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds etc), and shedding excess weight.

Autism

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 59 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with four times as many boys being identified than girls. Due to sex-specific data such as this, scientists suspect that genetics must play a role, especially in regards to the X chromosome of which males only have one.

As with most conditions, it is best to catch ASD as early as possible. Look out for warning signs in your child (such as a lack of eye contact, unresponsiveness to their own name, and communicating with gestures, among others) and then seek professional advice. A series of behavioral therapies will usually be suggested.

Breast Cancer

It may come as no surprise to you that breast cancer is far more common in women than men. However, what might be news to some people is that the condition can occur in males too, with an estimated 2,550 American men diagnosed with breast cancer every year. That said, this figure is still less than 1% of all cases.

The male breast primarily consists of fatty tissue and inactive cells, hence why the area is not at any severe risk for abnormal growth. On the other hand, the female breast is a remarkably active part of the body with a complex glandular structure and a high response to the estrogen hormone. Such an intricate system drastically increases the chance of irregular developments.

Your best defense against breast cancer is to attend regular checkups while limiting your tobacco and alcohol intake. Weight issues may also play a pivotal role.

Colorblindness

Much like many male-centric conditions, the inability to differentiate specific colors comes from the chromosomes. As men only have one X chromosome, they are much more likely to form this deficiency.

There is no known cure for colorblindness, but there are lenses which can correct the red-green variation while certain smartphone apps can help to calibrate the colors. Furthermore, while everyday tasks (such as driving, buying clothes, cooking etc) may be more difficult, most colorblind people learn to effortlessly live around these obstacles.

Alzheimer’s Disease

By the age of 65, women have a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, which is a far greater number than the 1 in 11 men. In fact, of the 5 million Americans currently living with the condition, 3.2 million of those are female. For many years, researchers believed that this was due to the greater longevity of women, as Alzheimer’s becomes increasingly more likely in later years. However, this theory is being challenged in recent times.

Alzheimer’s disease is incurable, but research has shown that it may be delayed by eating a healthy omega-3-rich diet, getting adequate sleep, maintaining a decent level of physical activity, and getting involved with more social events.

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