Background: Gender medicine focuses on how gender differences affect health status and diseases development and how they influence health services access and attitude to screening programmes. Endocrine diseases are influenced by many gender-related issues, some of which have not been sufficiently investigated. The aim of this study was to evaluate gender difference in determinants of health (as lifestyle, level of education, area of origin, distance from hospital) and how these elements could influence diseases prevalence in an endocrine outpatients setting, with a special focus on oncological disease.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study enrolling patients referring for the first time to our Oncological Endocrinology Unit, between January 2019 to December 2019.
Results: We enrolled 1107 consecutive patients. Mean age was 56.8 ± 15.0 years (77% females). The main reasons for referral were thyroid and bone diseases. We found a gender difference in some disease prevalences: malignant endocrine diseases and iatrogenic thyroid diseases were more frequent in males, while other thyroid disorders, adrenal and metabolic diseases and cancer treatment induced bone loss were higher in females. The frequency of oncological comorbidities was higher in females. No difference was found in the propensity to travel long distances to reach the hospital. In our population, women had a higher socio-cultural level and followed healthier lifestyle. In fact, alcohol and tobacco consumption was lower in females and women had lower BMI. The percentage of smokers or ex-smokers was higher in patients with any malignancy compared to patients with benign endocrine diseases.
Conclusions: the study showed the importance of considering gender as a determinant of health, able to influence also lifestyle and habits, and as an element to keep in consideration to promote a healthier lifestyle and a targeted endocrine screening especially in oncological setting.