Making Sense of Men’s Health Risks

by Melissa Chichester

Men and women both have unique health and wellness challenges that require different forms of care, whether it be heart health, aging experiences, or bone health.

June is Men’s Health Month, a program devoted to the awareness, education, and maintenance of the health and wellness issues that men face throughout their lives. Health practitioners have discovered some alarming facts about the current state of men’s health, including that women are 100% more likely to schedule doctor appointments for preventative care and annual exams than men are. Whether it is something that men face more frequently than women, or it is something that only men face, this is a topic that the whole family can learn more about to protect and encourage loved ones to practice healthy lifestyle habits.

Men’s health facts and figures

Some of the statistics available from researchers on the condition of men’s health in the United States can be scary; however, when armed with information, we can improve wellness within our families. Here are a few of the health issues that men currently face, according to Nurse Advisor Magazine, a publication by the International Nurses Association:

Men are more likely than women to be uninsured.

  • On average, men die five years earlier than women.
  • Heart disease is the number one health issue men face.
  • In the USA, 30,000 men die of prostate cancer per year.
  • One out of every two men are being diagnosed with cancer, compared to one out of every three women.

In addition to these concerns, the US National Library of Medicine cites that men are more likely to smoke, drink, make risky decisions, and put off medical care when compared to women. Men are also more likely to commit suicide than women.

Men and prostate cancer

One of the biggest health issues men face is prostate cancer, which occurs when cells in the prostate begin to grow uncontrollably. The prostate is a gland located below the bladder and found only in males, and its size can change with age.

According to the American Cancer Society, the most common type of prostate cancer is adenocarcinoma.

They also cite that one out of every nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, which mainly develops in older men and African Americans. The survival rate is generally good for prostate cancer; however, this several factors, including how early the cancer was diagnosed. Because this cancer is so common, it is recommended that men receive an annual prostate exam starting at the age of 40, especially if a relative has been previously diagnosed.

Men and heart health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 in 4 male deaths in 2013 were the result of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death for men in the United States for the majority of ethnic groups. Shockingly, of these men, half will display no symptoms of heart disease. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has identified five of the biggest mistakes men make regarding heart health, which includes:

  • Skipping annual checkups
  • Ignoring impotence
  • Thinking you’re “too young”
  • Self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or food
  • Believing it is unavoidable because it runs in the family

When it comes to men and heart health, it is essential to make the necessary appointments and exams recommended by a physician in order to practice preventative care.

Healthy lifestyle practices for men

Making healthy lifestyle choices is imperative for improving individual wellness; however, these choices can positively impact the entire family. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking control of your health by making simple lifestyle changes. These include quitting smoking, exercising, stress management, and eating a healthier diet. Do these changes seem overwhelming? Enlisting a support system helps but taking it one step at a time is also beneficial. By focusing on one change at a time, men can experience more success in changing their habits. For example, if living a sedentary lifestyle now, small changes like taking the stairs or parking further away from the door while shopping can help get more steps into the day. More exercise is also a good way to practice stress management. If healthy eating is a challenge, try a new fruit or vegetable each week to start out, or stock the pantry with produce favorites.