Why are men more likely than women to get most types of cancer?

Most types of cancer happen more often in men than in women, and no one knows why. A recent study that was published in Cancer suggests that the cause may be biological differences between men and women rather than differences in behavior like smoking, drinking, dieting, and other things.

Most types of Cancer

Understanding why the risk of cancer is different for men and women could help improve cancer prevention and treatment. To find out, Sarah S. Jackson, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and her colleagues looked at differences in cancer risk for each of 21 cancer sites among 171,274 male and 122,826 female adults ages 50–71 who took part in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study from 1995–2011.

During this time, men got 17,951 new cancers and women got 8,742. Only thyroid and gallbladder cancers were less common in men than in women. In other parts of the body, men were 1.3 to 10.8 times more likely to get cancer than women. Men had a 10.8-times greater chance of getting esophageal cancer, a 3.5-times greater chance of getting gastric cardia, and a 3.5-times greater chance of getting bladder cancer (a 3.3-times higher risk).

Even after taking into account a wide range of risky behaviors and carcinogenic exposures, men still had a higher risk of getting most cancers. In fact, the fact that most cancers are more common in men isn’t due to differences in risky behaviors or carcinogenic exposures between the sexes (ranging from 11 percent for esophageal cancer to 50 percent for lung cancer).

The results suggest that physiological, immunological, genetic, and other biological differences between men and women are a big reason why men are more likely to get cancer than women.

Differences in cancer rates

“Our results show that there are differences in cancer rates that can’t be explained by exposures to the environment alone.” This suggests that men and women have different biological traits that make them more or less likely to get cancer, “said Dr. Jackson.

In an editorial that goes with the study, the results are talked about, and it is pointed out that sex differences in cancer need to be fixed in many ways.

The authors wrote that “strategic inclusion of sex as a biological variable should be enforced along the whole cancer continuum.” “This includes risk prediction and primary cancer prevention, cancer screening and secondary cancer prevention, cancer treatment, and patient management.”

“Cancer and other diseases have different effects on men and women in different ways.” Bench-to-bedside translational studies, which use the results of existing research to change clinical practice, are a scalable, easy-to-reach way to get to precision medicine and will reduce and maybe even get rid of differences between men and women when it comes to cancer. “


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