There's a shocking statistic for you. One in five men die before they are 65, and 70% of deaths from shared male and female cancers are men. What's going on?
From an early age boys are told not to cry - 'don't be a girl' or 'man up' are directed at boys in pain and distress. Women don't have this issue; they can cry and see the doctor with impunity.
This cultural conditioning of boys to be 'strong' may be shortening their lives. Men are ignoring symptoms when they feel ill, and illnesses are not picked up by routine visits because they don't have routine visits - all in the name of being manly.
Women tend to have a bigger social network. Men don't have this support to the same extent, and even when men do visit the doctor they may be too embarrassed to discuss their symptoms properly. Erectile dysfunction, for example, is linked to heart disease and diabetes. The prostate test may make them cringe but it's certainly easier and less distressing than being diagnosed with cancer.
Men's mental health is neglected. If they ignore their bodies, they ignore their minds more. 76% of suicides are men. It's that lack of a chatty social network problem again.
Some researchers believe that men die younger than women because they are programmed to do so. Women are typically shorter and smaller than men, meaning they use fewer resources to grow. Older women are also 'useful' in evolutionary terms as they can still forage for food and look after grandchildren. Men are no longer useful if they can't fight or hunt due to their age.
Men are more likely to take part in risky behaviours such as crime, drinking excessive alcohol and smoking. This leads to an earlier death. It's also thought that girls develop faster than boys and this keeps them away from risky behaviours.
Women have an XX chromosome whereas men have XY. It's thought that if a defect or illness appears on the X chromosome, women have some back-up from their other X.
Anything that helps men open up to talk about their health, and anything that dispels the 'men are tough' myths will help.
Some doctors think that the use of IT in heath systems will encourage men to seek help when they need it, rather than leaving symptoms until it's too late for treatment. A video conference for example is potentially less embarrassing than a face to face discussion. Some doctors have seen a drop in men's missed appointments since text message reminders were introduced, and there are researchers who believe pushing the use of male-only online support groups will help.
If you are suffering with symptoms do not ignore them, talk to your doctor. It could save your life. You can't just tough out heart disease or lung cancer. Support and treatment is waiting for you, it would be rude to ignore it. Use Men's Health Week as an excuse to kick-start a new-found awareness of your health.