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Volume 13, Issue 4 (July 2011) 13, 519–525; 10.1038/2010.134

Men's health in South Korea

Sae-Chul Kim, Sang Wook Kim and Yun Jae Chung

Department of Urology and Internal Medicine, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul 156-755, Korea

Correspondence: Dr S-C Kim, (saeckim@unitel.co.kr)


Over the last four decades, rapid industrialisation and a Westernized lifestyle have changed disease patterns in South Korea. This study was conducted to review the current state of men's health in South Korea. By reviewing reports of government authorities and domestic and foreign studies related to men's health, we found that in men ≥65 years of age, 28.4% considered their health status good, whereas 38.3% considered their health status poor. The prevalence of moderate-to-severe lower urinary tract symptoms was similar to that in Caucasians. The prevalence of erectile dysfunction was higher than the global average. The incidence of cryptorchidism and hypospadias showed a tendency towards increase. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus continuously increased by 10.8% in 2008 and was the fifth leading cause of death in 2008. The prevalence of obesity increased from 26.0% in 1998 to 31.7% in 2007. The prevalence of ischaemic heart disease has continuously increased, with heart diseases causing one of every 12 deaths. The prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2005 was 17.2% among adults ≥45 years of age. The top five prevalent cancers in men, in descending order, were cancers of the stomach, lung, liver, large bowel and prostate, among which the incidence of stomach, lung and liver cancers decreased by 0.7%, 0.6% and 2.2%, respectively, from 1999 to 2007, whereas the incidence of large bowel and prostate cancers increased by 7.0% and 13.2%, respectively. The prevalence of depression, dementia and sleep disorders was estimated as 17.3%, 4.21% and 20.2%, respectively. Together, these findings suggest that disease patterns in South Korean men are becoming Westernized.

Keywords: Health; men; South Korea

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