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Men's Health Report Reveals Health Disparities in Cambridge
Posted Date: 6/30/2008

Media Contact: 
David Cecere, Cambridge Health Alliance, Telephone: 617-503-8428 (office) 617-921-9613 (cell) Email:

Men's Health Report Reveals Health Disparities in Cambridge

Cambridge, MA...The Cambridge Public Health Department released a report today on health disparities between the sexes and among different groups of men.

"This is the most comprehensive report on health disparities ever produced by the public health department," said Dennis D. Keefe, Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Health Alliance and Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Cambridge. "The data will inform health disparities projects currently underway in Cambridge and at Cambridge Health Alliance."

  • Key findings from Men's Health: A Report on Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Health Disparities in Cambridge:
  • The overall death rate* for Cambridge males is 34% higher than for Cambridge females.
  • Cambridge males have higher death rates* than females for heart disease and cancer, and higher infection rates for HIV/AIDS.
  • While both sexes experience a similar rate* of death from stroke and diabetes, Cambridge males are hospitalized for these diseases at a higher rate than Cambridge females.
  • Within the city's male population, the death rate* for black males is 9% higher than for white males, 78% higher than for Hispanic males, and 327% higher than for Asian males.

*all mortality rates are age-adjusted

The Cambridge data reflect national trends. All populations of men and boys in the United States - not just African-American males and black male immigrants - are faring worse than their female counterparts on many significant measures of health.

For more than 50 years, American males have experienced higher death rates than women for the nation's topic killers - heart disease, cancer, and stroke. U.S. males are also more likely than U.S. females to be murdered, commit suicide, or suffer a fatal workplace injury, according to data compiled for this report.

"There is not just one single factor that can explain the mortality gap between men and women or among different groups of men," said Claude-Alix Jacob, director of the Cambridge Public Health Department. "Many causes contribute to these health disparities."

Jacob cited as examples the fact that American males are more likely than females to engage in health-endangering behaviors like cigarette smoking and binge drinking. U.S. men are also more likely than women to be employed in dangerous occupations like commercial fishing, construction, and trucking. Men are also somewhat less likely than women to have health insurance, and even those who are insured may not seek medical care when necessary.

Like many other communities, Cambridge has sought to understand and eliminate health disparities among different groups of people. For more than 15 years, public health and civic leaders in Cambridge had been concerned about the health challenges faced by men, especially African-American men and black male immigrants. In 1993, The Cambridge Hospital launched what is now called the Men of Color Health Initiative (MOCHI). The cornerstone of MOCHI is the annual Hoops 'N Health sports tournament and health education fair, which is held during Men's Health Month in June. This year's event was held on Saturday, June 21, and drew more than 1,000 people.

In October 2007, the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, Cambridge Health Alliance, and Cambridge Family YMCA received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the federal Office of Minority Health to reduce health disparities among men of color. The same month, the Cambridge Public Health Department received a three-year, $94,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to expand health outreach efforts and develop a strategic plan in collaboration with the Men of Color Task Force, a local advisory group involved in promoting the health of men of color.

The two grants are supporting a broader health disparities initiative in Cambridge called The Men's League: A Community Health Partnership for Men, which engages participants in wellness activities and connects them to health care services. The Men's Health League hosted a father and son breakfast on May 31, which served as the official kickoff of Men's Health Month as well as the overall initiative, and opened the Fit For Life program to Cambridge men in partnership with the Cambridge Family YMCA.

For more information on men's health data and programming, see Men's Health: A Report on Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Health Disparities in Cambridge, available

The Cambridge Family YMCA is a non-profit community service organization whose mission is to build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities by offering programs that develop a healthy spirit, mind, and body. Centered on core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility, the Cambridge Family YMCA practices inclusion for all ages, incomes, abilities, races, religions, ethnicities, and genders. The Cambridge Family YMCA strives to identify and assess the needs of its community in an effort to provide programs that address identified gaps in services for kids and families. For more information:


Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health system committed to providing high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities. CHA has expertise in primary care, specialty care and mental health/substance use services, as well as caring for diverse and complex populations. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA patients have seamless access to advanced care through the system’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine.