According to the ONS, the most common causes of death for women in the UK are: circulatory diseases (including heart disease and strokes), then cancer, then respiratory disease (e.g. pneumonia). For men, the top three causes are the same: circulatory diseases, then cancer, then respiratory disease.

I’ve taken a more detailed look at cancer specifically (based on statistics from the Scottish NHS website and from the ONS).

The most common cancers suffered by women are breast, lung and colorectal cancers. The most common cancers suffered by men are prostate, lung and colorectal cancers. Other cancer sites, including all the other sex-specific cancers, are numerically quite a way behind all of these.

It strikes me from this that, although there certainly are material differences between the numbers and prorportions for causes of death and cancer incidence for women and men, the differences are less stark than I for one had expected.

Both women and men are massively affected by heart disease, for example. Both women and men suffer from high rates of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. So “Women’s health” needs to mean more than wearing pink ribbons and doing the Race for Life because, however much we might prefer to focus on exclusively* female problems, there has to be a point at which we need to fight our corner in other areas too.

* Well, nearly exclusively. Men can get breast cancer too, just that it’s in underwhelming numbers so it isn’t a very visible issue.

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