- What Is National Men’s Health Awareness?
- Common Health Issues In Men
- Effects Of Excessive Alcohol Use
- Mental Health In Men
- Recommendations To Help Men Stay On Top Of Their Game
- Watch What You Eat
- Get Your Vitamins
- Final Thoughts
As Sunday is Father’s Day, it also important to note that June is National Men’s Health Awareness Month. It is a time of increasing awareness towards preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Research and studies continue to show a significant difference when it comes to the health of men compared to women. While these differences are often associated with certain behaviors, it also helps pinpoint major issues that need to be addressed. During Men’s Health Month, we urge men to take steps to enrich their physical health and mental wellness through proper screenings and care.
WHAT IS NATIONAL MEN’S HEALTH AWARENESS?
Throughout June, Men’s Health Month aims to encourage boys and men to take charge of their overall health by implementing healthy living decisions. First hosted by Men’s Health Network since 1992, the month is dedicated to enriching men’s health and wellness through a broad spectrum of national screening and educational campaigns. It is crucial that men get regular checkups and be aware of the risks for their age, ethnicity, and lifestyle. The official symbol for the month is a blue ribbon and the purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and depression.
COMMON HEALTH ISSUES IN MEN
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), did you know that the average lifespan for men is about five years less than women? Over the years there has been a gradual increase in this gap. Some of the top three causes of death for men include:
- Heart/Cardiovascular Disease
- Unintentional injuries
- Chronic Respiratory Disease
- Chronic Liver Disease
- Kidney Disease
There isn’t one particular reason for this lifespan and health disparity, but there is a group of factors that contribute to the cause. A higher percentage of men do not have healthcare coverage – this, in turn, leads to a lower use of healthcare resources, as men are less likely to schedule routine doctor’s appointments. When compared to women, men make about half as many doctor visits for preventive care. One of the most problematic behaviors contributing to this lifespan disparity is the non-help-seeking nature amongst men. Statistics show that women are 33% more likely to visit their doctor and 100% better at maintaining screening and preventive services than men. Preventive visits are essential to improving everyone’s health, regardless of their age or gender.
EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL USE
- Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant risks to men’s health and safety, and the risks increase with the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Men have higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations than women.
- More than three-quarters of deaths from excessive drinking are among males, totaling more than 140,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
- Among drivers in fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes, men are 50% more likely to have been intoxicated (a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater) compared with women.
- Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and may increase the risk of physically assaulting another person. Alcohol is a key risk factor for sexual violence perpetration.
- Males are more than three times as likely to die by suicide than females, and more likely to have been drinking prior to suicide.
- Alcohol use is one of the most important preventable risk factors for cancer. Alcohol use increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon, which are more common among men. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of prostate cancer.
- Excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in erectile dysfunction and infertility.
MENTAL HEALTH IN MEN
Men are also less likely to undergo treatment for mental health conditions such as depression, resulting in nearly a 4x increased likelihood of developing a mental illness or worst committing suicide. Statistics show that men have more difficulty handling stress compared to women. This may be because women typically have better social networks, or a circle of friends and they are able to confide in them. The male mentality often tends to avoid discussing their feelings and as a result, are less likely to disclose such issues with their PCP, resulting in many cases of major depression/anxiety being undiagnosed. Stress itself is linked to higher blood pressure and body weight, so it’s important to take time to focus on activities that will help relieve stress.
In our present society, most men have a negative stigma towards seeking mental help and therapy while holding onto a ‘machismo’ attitude of processing things internally. Furthermore, most men don’t know how to begin the discussion regarding their mental wellness. This is why advocating for mental health during Men’s Health Month is vital.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO HELP MEN STAY ON TOP OF THEIR GAME
- Stay updated on your vaccinations! Now that we are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to be up to date on vaccinations. Your primary care provider (PCP) will help keep you on track as there are many that are recommended based on age. Not only do immunizations help you stay healthy, but they keep your body’s immune system functioning to its highest level. Vaccines are usually recommended at the time of your annual visit with your PCP.
- Do your screenings! Your PCP will do screening labs if you have certain risk factors, such as family history or weight changes. Screenings for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver issues, anemia, and cholesterol are part of the routine bloodwork often done at the doctor’s office. Men are typically given prostate exams at the age of 40, which is done annually to make sure no enlargement or masses are present which may cause complications down the line. A colonoscopy is another recommendation to assess the risk for colon cancer by age 50 (or sooner if there is family history). A lung CT scan is another common practice for those ages 50 or over who currently smoke or have smoked in the past to check for lung cancer. Additionally, during your visits with your PCP, depression screenings are done to make sure that you are not at a higher risk of developing major depression.
- Watch your risky behaviors! Limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking are almost routinely advised by your PCP, as they can result in liver disease, cirrhosis, and alcohol dependence. Smoking contributes to a wide variety of cancers and is one factor that is the most changeable. Nicotine replacement therapy options can help you quit smoking; some examples include Chantix, nicotine patches, and nicotine gum. There are also many resources and programs that can help you reduce your alcohol intake.
- Importance of safe sex! If you’re sexually active, it’s important to routinely be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and practice safe sex.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Eating large amounts of processed foods or foods with a high amount of sodium (salt) are the main causes of obesity. Obesity is linked to increased occurrences of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and breathing issues. Focus on lean proteins and foods that provide good nutrition and a large number of vitamins. Some examples include:
- Greek yogurt
- and lentils
Foods with high fat and/or carbohydrate content should only be eaten in moderation; examples include white bread, pasta, pizza, fried foods, pastries or cookies, processed meats and cheeses. Exercise goes a long way, so working out three to four times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes will help your body and your mind.
GET YOUR VITAMINS
Most people can get the vitamins and minerals needed for optimum health by eating a well-balanced diet. It’s important to eat wide variety of vitamin- and mineral-rich foods, such as fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Many of those foods also provide heart-healthy fiber and natural antioxidant compounds that can help lower your risk of certain diseases.
Some people may also benefit from taking a daily multivitamin or other supplements. For example, your doctor may encourage you to supplement your diet with fish oil capsules containing omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3. Ask your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of adding a multivitamin or other supplements to your daily routine.
Most of us may have men in our lives that are important! This Men’s Health Month let’s focus on helping them optimize their health. There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration, but several tips that were mentioned earlier are a great place to start. Routine doctor’s appointments and going for preventive well-visits are another simple step men can take to feel better and to help reduce any chronic health conditions. Did you find this article to be informative? What are your thoughts regarding men’s health?