Although males are more likely to be smokers and drinkers, these habits do not explain why men are more likely to get cancer. According to one large research, biological variations between the sexes are the true cause of the gap.
Scientists believe that a better understanding of these distinctions will lead to more effective treatment and preventive strategies. Three hundred thousand cancer-free middle-aged and elderly Americans were followed for 15 years in the research.
Even after controlling for variables such as diet and exercise, males still had a more than twofold increased risk of developing the condition compared to women. Scientists hypothesized that genetic, hormonal, and immune system variations each have a role. This comes as experts in the UK have today advocated for universal genetic testing of cancer patients in order to match them with the most effective treatment options.
Cancer affects around 182,000 British women annually, whereas it affects approximately 193,000 British males annually. In the United States, there are a total of 1 million yearly cancer diagnoses (970,000 males and 928,000 women).
The National Cancer Institute analyzed data from 21 different cancer types in 171,274 males and 122,826 females. Between 1995 and 2011, medical histories of participants aged 50 to 71 were tracked. The results, published in CANCER, demonstrate that 17,951 males were diagnosed with cancer whereas only 8,742 females were.
Women had a greater incidence of cancer in the thyroid and gallbladder than men did, while males were at a higher risk for developing other types of malignancy.
They did not analyze sex-specific malignancies like breast and prostate cancer. Oesophageal cancer was 11 times more common in men than in women, while stomach and throat cancer were each four times more common in men.
Moreover, their risk of developing bladder cancer was three times as high as the general population’s.
Even after accounting for other risk variables including smoking, alcohol use, and exposure to carcinogens, males were found to be at a higher risk of developing cancer than women. Scientists have previously blamed increased prevalence of smoking, alcohol usage, and occupational asbestos exposure for this trend.
They also suggested that males could be less inclined to consult a doctor.
The group concluded that since testosterone stimulates cell proliferation, it may raise the risk of skin, prostate, and liver cancer in males.
On the other hand, they noted that women’s immune systems tend to establish a greater defense against carcinogenic diseases like hepatitis and HPV. This may translate to a reduced incidence of some malignancies in women compared to males.
Women may be more protected against cancer because they have a copy of a gene that inhibits the disease than males do.