Dr. Katz describes why all women should be practicing preventive medicine.
I am an internist and a preventive medicine specialist. I did sequential residencies, trained in both, and in preventive medicine we are trying to do just what the name suggests–prevent disease--pretty much a hopeless task with men. Right, I mean, men are just thick-skulled and when they don’t feel well, maybe they will see you.
They will see you after they have had their heart attack and after they have had their stroke and after they have been diagnosed with their cancer, which is terribly disheartening. There’s only so many times you can see that before you really get discouraged and think, you know, I am putting out fires and these fires never, I know exactly how to prevent these fires from getting started in the first place, if only I can get through to these people.
Women are much more sensible. So, the whole emphasis of preventive medicine, a proactive approach, taking the long view, thinking about taking good care of yourself when you feel fine so you continue to feel fine, building health in other people such as your children. Women are the Chief Medical Officers of the family and I think, occasionally you’ll find men who have that mentality, but by and large, we really do count on women to motivate their families to engage in health, and I guess that’s okay, you know, if that’s a role women are willing to play.
Married men live longer; it’s not true of married women. Married men have a woman who is, you know, looking after their health, making them go to the doctor, making them do some of the stuff. So as long as women are willing to contribute to our well-being, I guess we could just say thank you. It is an extra responsibility, but women seem to have a better appreciation for the need to plan ahead for health. I’d like to see that become more of a norm in our culture.
You know, it’s interesting; men certainly don’t have a different attitude than women about financial investing. I don’t think we have any evidence to suggest that women are more involved in building the family’s nest egg. Traditionally, maybe it’s even been the other way around, but certainly, if you have two adult partners, head of household, both understand the need to put money away for college education, retirement.
Well, health is something we have to invest in, too. We take care of ourselves now. We take care of our kids now so we can look forward to a lifetime of better health together. You know, the number of times I’ve had patients enter retirement age, which was supposed to be the golden age, they’re supposed to now enjoy the rewards of years of hard work and financial responsibility, only to succumb to heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and all of those dreams just disappear because they invested financially, they didn’t invest in health. So women are far better at that than men; everybody really needs to sign on.
About Dr. Katz, M.D., M.P.H.:
David L. Katz M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P.M., F.A.C.P., is an internationally renowned authority on nutrition, weight management, and the prevention of chronic disease, and an internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine and patient-centered care. He is a board certified specialist in both Internal Medicine, and Preventive Medicine/Public Health, and Associate Professor (adjunct) in Public Health Practice at the Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Katz is the Director and founder (1998) of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, Director and founder of the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital (2000) in Derby, CT, and founder and president of the non-profit Turn the Tide Foundation.