Healthy Habits

Men’s Health

Two senior friends playing beach tennis

Men’s health refers to the physical, mental, and social well-being of males. It includes a broad spectrum of concerns including physical fitness, nutrition, mental health, and preventive care.

Why does it matter?

In developed countries today, men have a life expectancy six years less than women. Men are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as excessive alcohol consumption, poor dietary habits, and smoking. Also, men are less likely to seek preventive healthcare. All these factors can hinder a man’s quality of life.

What can I do?

First, recognize that focusing on one’s health not only improves life expectancy but also improves quality of life.

Second, establish a relationship with a healthcare provider, particularly if you are over the age of 40. Your healthcare provider is not just someone who is there to treat illness – they are there to work with you to set your healthcare goals, develop a plan to keep you healthy, and screen for preventable disease.

Areas of Prevention

Cardiovascular disease – the #1 cause of death in both men and women

  • Optimizing diet, blood pressure, glucose control (for diabetics), and cholesterol can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Men over age 65 who have ever smoked benefit from a one-time ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (an outpouching of the aorta, which is highly lethal if it bursts).

Cancers

  • Prostate cancer: Approximately one in eight men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. Though it is the most common cancer in men, it is less deadly than other forms of cancer. Screening for prostate cancer is a complicated and personal decision that is best done in consultation with your healthcare provider.
  • Colorectal cancer: There are multiple methods to detect colon cancer early. Colonoscopy is considered the best as it can detect pre-cancerous growths, and these growths can be easily removed during the procedure. Other stool-based methods are effective at detecting cancer and pre-cancerous lesions but if positive would require a colonoscopy to confirm and remove the growth.
  • Lung cancer: People with a significant history of smoking benefit from low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer. If found early, lung cancers can often be removed by using minimally invasive scopes.

Immunizations

Hundreds of thousands of Americans die every year from diseases which are now preventable with immunizations. A few examples include COVID-19, hepatitis A and B, influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, and HPV. The shingles vaccine is effective in preventing shingles, which is generally not life-threatening but can make one miserable.

Sexual Health

Sexual dysfunction in men increases with age. The same risk factors for cardiovascular disease also increase one’s risk of sexual dysfunction. Controlling these risk factors helps prevent sexual dysfunction later in life.

Healthy Lifestyle

Accidents and unintentional injuries are a top cause of death in men. Suicide is more common in men than in women. Focusing on healthy lifestyle, stress management, and screenings can significantly improve a man’s quality of life.

Men’s health is a holistic concept that addresses the physical, mental, and social concept of a man’s well-being. Men can significantly improve their overall wellness by establishing care with a healthcare provider.

 

References:

  1. Brahler, H. Maiher International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2001
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
  3. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Fuchs HE, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2022. CA Cancer J Clin 2022; 72:7.
  4. N Engl J Med 1989;321:1648-1659
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