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Saturday 3 June 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Here are the illnesses your gender may be putting you at risk for
Make sure you’re minding yourself.

LIKE IT OR LOATHE it, statistics globally reveal that our gender does dictate certain things about our health.

The Central Statistics Office has shown consistently that the differences in lifestyle choices and genetics between men and women in Ireland does predispose them for particular illnesses and cancers.

Here are the diseases and disorders that you may need to keep your eye on, according to your gender.

If you’re a woman…

shutterstock_569129137 Shutterstock / Chompuu Shutterstock / Chompuu / Chompuu

1. Osteoporosis

In America, of the 10 million people who have this brittle bone disease, an astounding 80% of them are women (eight million), according to According to The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

This is for a number of reasons, firstly women tend to have thinner, smaller bones than men. Secondly, oestrogen protects bones and when its levels drop in women at the time of menopause, the chance of developing the bone disease increases.

This impact is so extreme that the NOF estimate that a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis is the same as her combined risks of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

shutterstock_577214212 Shutterstock / Shutterstock / /

2. Gender-specific cancers

Of all of the deaths caused by gender-specific cancers last year in Ireland, women were over twice as likely to die from a gender-specific cancer than men, according to The Central Statistics Office.

While 311 women in total died from cervical, breast, uterine and ovarian cancers, only 142 men died from prostate cancer (the only male-specific cancer type recorded by the CSO last year).

According to, hormone replacement therapy can increase your risks of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Data from insurance companies such as Irish Life’s annual claims report, also show a much higher rate of claims relating to cancer among women in Ireland.

If you’re worried, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

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3. Diseases of the nervous system and sense organs

Sadly, more women in Ireland died in 2016 from diseases of the nervous system than men – this includes diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and lupus (a disease that causes the immune system to turn against parts of the body it is designed to protect).

According to WebMD, multiple sclerosis is twice as likely to occur in women than it is in men. The site references research by The Mayo Clinic that found this may be due to genetic links more likely to be passed down to women than to men.

Similarly, a stark 90% of people who develop lupus are female, according to The Lupus Research Alliance, this is because men must inherit a greater number of risk factors to be affected with the disease, making it much harder for men to develop the disease according to The Lupus Research Institute.

If you’re a man…

shutterstock_577420726 Shutterstock / BonNontawat Shutterstock / BonNontawat / BonNontawat

1. Heart disease

Of all of the deaths recorded in Ireland last year, The Central Statistics Office calculated that almost a third of all male deaths (32%) could be attributed to diseases of the circulatory system – these mainly include deaths caused by heart disease and cerebrovascular disease (strokes).

In real terms, there were an extra 160 (1,280) men that died from circulatory diseases last year than women. This is supported by Irish Life’s insurance claim data, which highlighted that heart disease was recorded as the cause of death for claims from around 40% more males than females.

According to The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, heart disease accounts for one in every four male deaths there, and between 70%-89% of all sudden cardiac events occur in men.

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2. Mental and behavioural disorders

Unfortunately, mental and behavioural disorders, including issues related to drug and alcohol consumption and addiction accounted for the loss of 253 male lives last year in Ireland.

In real terms, this means that over 100 (111) more men lost their lives due to addiction and complications from drug and alcohol abuse than women.

According to The United States National Library of Medicine men are two to three times more likely to have a drug abuse or dependence disorder than women.

shutterstock_580447678 Shutterstock / garagestock Shutterstock / garagestock / garagestock

3. Cancer

As discussed above, deaths from certain gender-specific cancers are higher in women, men are more likely to die from cancer in general, with 1,241 men dying last year from some type of ‘neoplasm’ (abnormal growth), according to The Central Statistics Office.

This contributed to an additional 164 more men who died from cancer last year than women. This, according to The Guardian, reflects that men in the UK are 35% more likely to die from cancer, and are almost three times as likely to die from oesophageal cancer and almost twice as likely to die from liver cancer.

According to The National Cancer Registry Ireland, Ireland has the third highest rate of prostate cancer after Norway and Sweden.

If you’re worried, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Irish Life Assurance plc. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

No-one can predict the future but you can take steps to be financially prepared for it. Irish Life’s Family Protection Planner is a quick and easy way to see how you could protect your family’s income with life insurance, or if you can’t work through accident or illness.

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