The men's health crisis in British Columbia
In countries around the world, including Canada, a consistent pattern of life expectancy has developed over the past century: Men die at an earlier age than women.
Canadian men have a life expectancy of 76 and in British Columbia live on average 4.4 years less than women. But beyond length of life, more revealing statistics relate to the age at which a person loses their good health (health expectancy) and the numbers of years of life lost because of dying at an early age (Potential Years of Life Lost). With an average health expectancy of 65 years, Canadian men may experience 11 or more years of poor health and disability before they die. And Canadian men have a 20-per-cent higher number of potential years of life lost, as they are more likely to die at a younger age when struck by a stroke or heart disease, or as a result of risk-taking behaviour, suicide or workplace mortality.
Granted, these statistics are averages. Many men do better than this, living and thriving well into their 90s. Other men do much worse; in lower socio-economic sectors of our communities, male health expectancy will average 17 years less than life expectancy. Factors beyond biology, such as risk-taking behaviour, substance abuse, poor self-care, lack of awareness and societal and cultural pressures clearly impact on gender differences in morbidity and mortality.