Women and men present different patterns of diseases, exposure to health determinants and access to health services. This is due to the biological differences between women and men and their socially constructed roles (gender). In Europe, women live on average 6 years longer than men. However, most of these additional years are lived with moderate or severe activity limitation.
The most frequent causes of death in Europe are diseases of the circulatory system followed by cancer, both for women and for men. The incidence and prevalence of certain diseases, such as breast cancer, osteoporosis and eating disorders, are higher among women. Other diseases affect men and women differently. For instance, the incidence of lung cancer is higher among men, but it is rapidly rising among women due to the increased up-take in smoking. Some specific diseases related to reproductive organs, such as endometriosis and cervical cancer, affect women exclusively.
The EU stresses the importance of raising awareness on the relationship between gender and health and supports Member States in gathering relevant and comparable data and in addressing health disparities through gender-sensitive health promotion, prevention, early detection and care.