In the US, women outlive men by five years. Researchers believe certain biological and hormonal factors contribute to this phenomenon. Men tend to make matters worse, however, by neglecting their health and ignoring symptoms when they appear. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are 33 percent more likely to visit the doctor than men. Women are also 100 percent better at maintaining screening schedules and preventive care.
June is Men’s Health Month. In this blog post, we aim to heighten awareness of a few common health threats facing American men. We also seek to encourage early detection and treatment, as well as screening and prevention for these common disorders.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the US. Heart disease includes a number of conditions that affect the structure or function of the heart. Among them are coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects and heart failure. All types of heart disease can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, complications if undetected and untreated.
Men are more likely to develop heart disease at a younger age than women, about 10 years earlier on average. Besides being male, other risk factors for heart disease include smoking, poor diet, family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, sedentary lifestyle, excessive stress and diabetes.
You can reduce your risk by controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes; stopping smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet; getting regular exercise; moderating your alcohol intake; maintaining a healthy weight; managing stress; and visiting your doctor for routine checkups.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death for men in the US. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, followed by lung cancer and colorectal cancer. However, lung cancer is responsible for more deaths than prostate and colorectal cancers combined. Fortunately, better treatments and early detection are improving the survival rates for all of these cancers.
Early detection is the key. If you are between ages 50 and 80, have a long history of smoking, currently smoke or quit in the last 15 years, annual screening for lung cancer using CT scanning may be recommended for you. Screening this way has been found to lower the risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent.
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends colon cancer screening with colonoscopy beginning at age 45 for people at average risk for the cancer. If you have a family history or another colon-related medical condition, your health care provider may recommend beginning the screening process at a younger age.
Discuss the options for prostate cancer screening, such as the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, with your health care provider. Together, you can determine if the PSA test is right for you based on your risk factors and symptoms.
It’s important to be aware of your cancer risk factors and the screening recommendations because some cancers don’t produce symptoms until they are advanced. At that point, the cancers are often more difficult to treat, and you are less likely to have a positive outcome.
Men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes, at a lower weight than women in part because they store more fat in the bellies, which is a major risk factor. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, affecting 90 to 95 percent of the 13 million men with diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body has a problem with the way it breaks down and uses glucose (sugar) for fuel. As a result, there is too much glucose circulating in the bloodstream.
High glucose levels damage the body’s blood vessels, including the tiny blood vessels in the eyes, causing a condition called diabetic retinopathy. It also increases the risk for kidney and heart disease. Damaged blood vessels lead to poor circulation, which can cause erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to produce and maintain an erection suitable for sex.
To avoid these complications of diabetes, including ED, exercise regularly, eat healthy food, manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, check your blood sugar throughout the day and visit your health care provider for routine blood tests. Your provider may prescribe medication and/or insulin injections to help control your blood glucose and reduce the risk for complications of diabetes.
Remember, routine checkups and screening tests can spot disease in its early stages, when its most treatable. These exams may save your life. Take control of your health; make an appointment with your health care provider for a checkup today.
– Patti DiPanfilo