Why are women sicker than men?

Could it be from following doctor’s orders?

By Martie Whittekin, CCN

Why are women sicker than men if they live longer…worldwide? That disparity is due in part to the fact that men more often have risky professions such as warriors, police officers, steel workers, stunt drivers or bank robbers. They also more frequently have dangerous hobbies. Females have also an edge because we didn’t smoke as much as men and that has reduced the risk of heart disease and cancer. (However, more guys than gals have quit smoking so that gap is narrowing.) There also appear to be genetic and hormonal reasons for women being more resistant to aging. I wouldn’t be surprised if scientists found that women live longer because if they are responsible for the household, they never really retire in the same sense that a business executive does. (A strong sense of purpose seems to be a positive longevity factor.)

Women not only live longer, but we also believe they are more health-conscious and often look after the health and nutrition of the whole family. According to the myth, we’re at home doing exercise videos, eating salad and daintily sipping our green tea. (In truth women are now more likely to be stressed from juggling a career and home life.) Per the corresponding myth, the male of the species is vegged out with his buddies in front of a big screen watching a game, washing down his hot wings and deep fried chips with a beer before lighting up a cigar. (Again just a stereotype.) Myths aside, women actually do pay more attention to health matters, yet still spend more of their lives being ill.

Shockingly, at least part of the blame for that increased illness may be simply that women are obedient and do what the “experts” tell us to—even when the advice is flat-out wrong. For example, more than men women bought into the folly of the fat-bashing food pyramid.  Females also make twice as many trips to the doctor. Some of those trips are because of pregnancy, but the ladies also get more general checkups and appointments for concerns that can lead to over-treatment syndrome. (I didn’t make up that term—it’s creeping into the medical literature as caring/thinking docs take a fresh look at the current state of medicine.) Women may often be over-medicated and worse yet, detoxify drugs more slowly. It is quite concerning that women in certain age groups are prescribed up to 40% more antibiotics than men.

In my book The Probiotic Cure, I discuss the dark side of antibiotics. Of course they can save lives, but in addition to creating vaginal yeast infections, increased use of antibiotics is linked to increased risk of breast cancer. Women suffer more headaches, joint pain, back pain, osteoporosis, allergy problems, skin issues, and digestive complaints than men. Females are also twice as likely to suffer depression. Depression can result from abusive relationships, but also from over treatment and certain medications. Which brings me back to antibiotics. All those symptoms I listed above can be linked to disturbed microbes in the intestinal tract. For one thing antibiotics kill good bacteria and foster the growth of yeasts that release poisons (mycotoxins) that are capable of producing all of those symptoms and more.

It may be no coincidence that women are 3 times as likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. There are over 100 autoimmune conditions where a person’s immune system begins attacking the body’s own tissues. You know these diseases by names such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune thyroiditis. The party line is that autoimmune diseases have “no known cause” and “no known cure”. The symptomatic treatment typically offered is anti-inflammatory medication that has very scary side effects.

Along with many doctors of natural, integrative and/or complementary medicine and a growing body of science, I believe that women have more auto-immune problems because of issues in the digestive tract caused at least in part by antibiotics. The disruption in gut microbe balance by antibiotics can lead to a deterioration of the lining of the intestinal tract. At that point, not only is nutrient absorption reduced, but also unwanted substances can escape into the bloodstream. Our immune system can become confused by these substances and begin attacking healthy tissue. My book has much more on the prevention and relief of this condition, but you can see an illustration of “leaky gut” at this link.

When our good bacteria are killed off, we don’t simply suffer the effects of yeast overgrowth and leaky gut, we also miss out on the many crucial contributions our beneficial bacteria would ordinarily provide to our chemistry. These “critters” manufacture vitamins as well as support digestion, absorption, detoxification, hormone balance, immune function and up to 20,000 needed biochemical reactions that affect the brain, heart and every other system.

The Probiotic Cure contains a great deal of information about the overuse of antibiotics and how to protect ourselves. But, here is a really basic tip: do not take antibiotics for viral conditions like colds and flu because they are useless in those cases. (Rarely, patients in extremely fragile condition may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection.) If you must take an antibiotic, take probiotics starting immediately but at a different time of day. Then continue probiotics for at least 3 months afterward to help restore balance. Note: other medicines can also damage good bacteria.

Copyright Martie Whittekin 2010, 2014 and 2016