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Men's Health in China

Men's health is very important, especially as recent statistics reveal a gender imbalance. CHI takes a look at the health risks men face today.


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Recent statistics from China point to a growing gender imbalance and like most Asian countries, this imbalance is most evident with respect to life expectancy and how long males and females will live. In China, women are predicted to live, on average, five or six years longer than their male counterparts. CHI decided to investigate the current state of men’s health in China to find out what were the most pressing health concerns affecting Chinese men today.

Cardiovascular disease

The scientific explanation for cardiovascular disease is the range of diseases that specifically affect the functioning of the body’s cardiovascular system, such as the heart, kidneys, brain and arteries. Cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of premature death in men around the world, and it is a leading cause of death in Chinese men. While cardiovascular diseases can develop naturally as men grow older, it has been changes in the lifestyle of men in China that has seen the numbers of people with these diseases increase dramatically.

Prior to China’s economic reform and opening up process, the majority of Chinese men typically worked in agriculture. Daily exercise was provided naturally through the course of a day’s work and men lead busy lives. As China began to modernize and its people became more educated, a middle class began to develop with men working at business and in offices. These significant changes in lifestyle, and primarily a lack of exercise, helped Chinese men gain weight and opened up a whole range of health issues that were previously unheard.

Diabetes

One of these health issues is diabetes. An estimated 92 million people in China are now diabetic, and roughly one in 10 adults now have the disease. That is a startling figure which is predicted to grow even higher in the coming years. In addition to the change of lifestyle mentioned previously, the change in eating habits among Chinese men has contributed to the dramatic increase in the number of diabetics. A simple diet consisting of rice, noodles, vegetables, fish and meat has now been replaced, in part, by the wide availability of processed meats, fatty snacks, sugary foods and drinks, and the various fast food outlets that can be found in every city, town and village across the country. Many health experts are now encouraging men to return to their traditional eating habits in a bid to prevent the onset of diabetes.

Smoking

Smoking is an inherent part of Chinese culture, and traditionally men have been encouraged to smoke from a young age by parents and other family members. It therefore comes as no surprise to hear that China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco. It is also surprising to hear that there are roughly 350 million smokers in China - the vast majority of whom are men - and this number is almost the equivalent of the total population of the United States.

While the effect smoking has on the development of diseases such as lung cancer is well known, many wonder why the medical profession in China does not do more to lobby the government to introduce anti-smoking measures. The simple truth is that smoking is so deeply ingrained in Chinese society, many do not know or believe the health risks associated with smoking. Over 60 percent of Chinese male doctors smoke, and such is the importance of the tobacco industry to the government, many anti-smoking regulations that are drafted are rarely implemented.

Premature Hair Loss

In most societies, premature hair loss would not rank highly among men as a pressing health concern, even though it is naturally an issue most men would like not to worry about. The situation is a little more complex in China, however, were great importance is placed on looking good, and more importantly, looking young. Most Chinese men in powerful government or business positions are under pressure to ensure their appearance is as youthful as possible, and with regard to hair this means having thick, glossy black hair without a hint of grey.

Chinese men suffering from premature hair loss will go to considerable lengths to either slow down or disguise their predicament. There are a wide variety of traditional Chinese medicine herbs, teas and acupuncture therapies available that all claim to stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss, and for those that are reluctant to cut their hair short and accept fate, the traditional comb over remains a popular alternative in China.