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These Diseases Affect Women More Than Men

Updated September 23, 2021 2.2k views15 items

Being a woman is a potential health hazard. On top of other problems - periods, childbirth, the pink tax, fighting for equal pay - women are also more susceptible to numerous health conditions, particularly autoimmune diseases. 

For many of the medical conditions more common in women than men, the differences in risk are striking. Sometimes, women are 60% more likely to get a condition, and often, modern medicine doesn't have an answer why, even taking into account differences in biology

Hormones are often to blame when there is a scientific explanation for why women are at a higher risk of certain diseases. Changes in hormone levels, whether at puberty, after childbirth, or due to menopause, can all trigger the onset of many serious health conditions. 

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    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    People with chronic fatigue syndrome don't just need a nap, they have difficulty performing basic, everyday tasks. The illness affects two to four times more women than men, according to the Office on Women's Health. There's no treatment for chronic fatigue, and it usually gets worse over time.

    To complicate matters, it's difficult to diagnose; other problems can present similar symptoms. There's no firm answer as to why women are more likely than men to develop chronic fatigue, though it's possible hormones play a role.

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    Alcohol-Related Issues

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although men drink more heavily than women, women are more likely to experience serious health problems as a result. On average, women weigh less than men and have less water in their bodies, so alcohol affects them differently - even if they're imbibing fewer drinks.

    Women are more likely than men to experience inflammation of the liver, alcohol-related heart problems, and brain damage as a result. Women who drink are also more likely to get breast cancer than women who don't.

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    Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid doesn't make enough of the hormones that affect metabolism. For unknown reasons, women are 10 times more likely than men to be affected by thyroid disorders in general. Hypothyroidism, meanwhile, is more likely to occur in women, though researchers don't know why. 

    Hypothyroidism causes weight gain, depression, fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms that are generally the same, regardless of gender. 

    Women who have just given birth are at an increased risk of hypothyroidism: according to Everyday Health, 5% to 10% of postpartum women develop the condition. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause fertility problems, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and other issues. 

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    Celiac Disease

    Celiac disease is an autoimmune problem triggered by a reaction to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye. If someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, the protein damages part of the small intestine and nutrients have difficulty getting into the bloodstream. Beyond Celiac states this can lead to myriad problems, including certain cancers, thyroid disease, malnutrition, osteoporosis, and infertility. 

    Of patients with celiac disease, 60 to 70 percent are women, and researchers don't know why. Some experts theorize women are more likely to go to the doctor if they're not feeling well. Still, numerous studies prove that women are more prone to it.

    How the disease is inherited could be the culprit: fathers with celiac disease are much more likely to pass the condition to daughters than sons. Also, women, in general, are at a higher risk for autoimmune disorders.