St. Mark's Hospital - May 10, 2019

Pink ribbons have raised awareness about breast cancer, but don’t let the color fool you into thinking breast cancer affects only women. Thousands of men are also diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

At highest risk are older men who are obese, drink heavily, have testicular or liver disorders, or have a family history of breast cancer. Because men rarely know how to detect breast cancer, many go undiagnosed until the cancer is advanced.

Guys also get many other diseases commonly associated with women, including:

Lupus: Up to 22 percent of lupus cases occur in males. The disorder occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own organs and tissues. Lupus affects both sexes similarly, but it causes more kidney and skin problems for men.

Osteoporosis: Men who develop osteoporosis, a loss of bone mass that can cause fractures, do so later in life and often have worse outcomes than women. After an osteoporosis-related hip fracture, men die at twice the rate of women. Heavy smoking, drinking and lack of exercise make you more susceptible to osteoporosis.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Men with undiagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often chalk up their joint pain and muscle weakness to osteoarthritis, physical activity or aging. Yet, ignoring RA symptoms or trying to tough it out with over-the-counter pain relievers can lead to permanent joint damage.

Migraines: About 6 percent of men struggle with this neurological disease, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Levels of the hormone estrogen may contribute to migraines, but research is ongoing. Experts say many migraines may be prevented by avoiding known triggers like strong odors, alcohol, nitrates and caffeine.

Think one of these conditions could be affecting you? Seek a diagnosis right away. Early treatment is vital for managing these diseases.