June is International Men’s Health Month. I think that is a bit surprising to most people because they think of “No Shave November” and its role in emphasizing men’s health. I like that we have two times a year to really highlight and think about men’s heath, yours and/or the men in your lives.
I read a scary statistic recently. Eight-one percent of men can remember the make and model of their first car but cannot remember the last time they went to the doctor. I live with one of that 81%. It is a struggle to get him to understand how important it is that he pay attention to his health.
Another interesting statistic: Men die on average five years earlier than women. I think most people know that men generally don’t live as long as women. My 80-year-old dad will tell you he is greatly outnumbered by women of his age in everywhere he goes. What is interesting is we now know why. It’s because of lack of preventative health care. Women are 100% more likely to seek annual wellness visits with a doctor than men.
A few more men’s health statistics: 1 in 2 men are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Women suffer cancer at a rate of 1 to 3. Men make up 55% of the workforce, but account for 92% of workplace deaths.
The average life expectancy for U.S. men in 2018 was 76.1 years of age compared to 81.1 years for women. The leading causes of death for both men and women are heart disease and cancer, but after that it changes significantly, for men number 3 is unintentional injury; for women, that is number 6.
The top 5 causes for men, and these account for over half of all deaths in men, are as I said previously, heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, and then adding chronic respiratory disease and stroke.
Every single one of these causes can be greatly mitigated by preventative care. The first place to start is by looking at lifestyle changes.
If you smoke, stop. I know that is very easy for me to say and very, very hard to do. But know there are many resources out there to help you quit.
Eat a healthy diet, one that is rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains.
Limit foods with high saturated and trans fats, and foods with added sugar and sodium. Maintain a healthy weight, that again easy to say, but hard thing to do, has a major impact on your risk for heart disease and many cancers.
Exercise regularly. Limit alcohol, no more than two drinks (a drink is considered a 12 beer, 5 ounces of win, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor) a day if you are under 65, and no more than 1 drink per day if you are over 65. Try to limit your stress.
Take steps to prevent unintentional injury. The most common cause for unintentional injury is motor vehicle collisions. Please wear a seat belt, drive safely, don’t drive distracted or while sleepy, and please, please never drive under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
While not an unintentional injury per se, another major risk for injury in men is suicide. Men are much less likely to report and treat depression. That depression can sometimes result in suicide and reckless behaviors that lead to unintentional injury.
If you have signs and symptoms of depression, such as feeling sad or worthless, and you are not interested in normal activities. Please talk to your doctor. If you are contemplating suicide, please seek help. Go to the emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Lastly, visit a primary care health care provider regularly, at least once a year; don’t wait until something is seriously wrong.
Please pay attention to screenings that can save your life, cancer screenings, heart disease screenings and the like. For men, one important one that starts as early as the teen years is self-screening for testicular cancer.
The Testicular Cancer Society has a great resource for learning how to do a self-exam on their website: www.testicularcancersociety.org/pages/slef -exam-how-to. They even have an app on the apple app store or google play called “Ball Checker” to help with those self-exams.
Gentlemen, for yourselves, and for those of us who love you, please consider your health this June, and in November and every day of the year.