What Men Can Learn About Health From Women

PHOTO: When it comes to staving off sickness, men can learn a thing or two from women.
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"Men consistently misperceive their level of risk," says psychologist Will Courtenay, author of "Dying to Be Men." And that misperception can allow serious ailments to go undetected.

Even when something's clearly wrong, guys sometimes endure the pain; studies find men are more likely than women to ignore a medical problem.

Man up and take a cue from the softer sex. And for more essential guy health and wisdom delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free Men's Health Daily Dose newsletter!

Doctor Visits

Men are twice as likely as women are to say they haven't seen a doctor in the past year, according to a 2010 CDC survey. Men also lag behind women in visits to their dentists.

For women, the annual gynecological exam becomes routine.

"That's just part of being a woman," says Courtenay. "There is no corollary for men. We don't take our sons to the doctor every year and say, 'You know, it's really important that you talk with your doctor about your health.'"

But we should.

Call your primary-care doc and schedule a physical. Have the blood tests. You know the drill. Going once a year won't kill you; going less often might. (And while you're at it, make sure you know the top 10 Questions Every Man Must Ask His Doctor.)

Diet

More women than men eat two or more fruits a day (36 percent vs. 29 percent) and three or more vegetables a day (31 percent vs. 21 percent), a CDC survey reports.

Women, being weight conscious, choose low-calorie foods such as vegetables, says Paul Rozin, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The irony: "While women tend to think they're bigger and heavier than they actually are, men often think they're skinnier and lighter than they are," says Courtenay.

Plus, men have higher levels of heart-harming LDL cholesterol. They're also more likely to have high blood pressure before age 45, and they have a higher risk of heart disease before age 60.

The fix? A 2011 Greek study suggests a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, nuts, produce, and olive oil. In addition, load up on these 3 Surprising Heart-Healthy Foods.

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More from Men's Health:

50 Ways to Add Years to Your Life

4 Sneaky Health Threats

5 Crazy Traits You Inherit from Your Family

6 Healthy-Sounding Foods That Aren't

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