Most men die younger than women and the gap has been widening over the years. Are men less healthy? Or could it be that many of the top causes of death are preventable and treatable, but some cultural norms of masculinity, make men less likely to see a doctor or share their symptoms? Health is more than just seeking medical care when not feeling well. Preventive visits and actions are one of the most important ways men can increase the duration of life expectancy by years and improve the equally important quality of life.
There are a few top health considerations for men:
Heart disease. Age and sex are risk factors that can’t be controlled, but eating a balanced diet and exercising can reduce risk of heart disease. Men should get 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
Stroke. Controlling hypertension is a very important risk factor for preventing stroke. The same dietary and exercise behaviors that can reduce the risk of heart disease also hold true for stroke. Men should avoid any tobacco products and should not have more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
Depression. Men are under diagnosed and less likely to openly show their emotional pain. Depression doesn’t always display as sadness, but can reveal itself in anger, aggression, burnout, risk-taking behavior, alcohol and substance abuse.
Cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women, but prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. Prostate cancer is treatable if found in early stages. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a prostate exam annually for men starting at age 50.
Preventive health is one of the many ways men can get and stay healthy. Checking in with your doctor and creating a relationship when things are going well can lead to more open dialogue if something unexpected happens.
- During or after a hot shower is a good time and is best to do while standing.
- Use your fingers and thumb to firmly, but gently feel the entire surface.
- Be sure to ask your doctor if you find a lump or anything else unusual.