The three leading causes of death for men are heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injuries. Men are statistically more likely than women to use tobacco, drink alcohol in excess, engage in risky behavior, and are less likely to seek medical care and go to wellness exams. The good news is that there are ways for men to be proactive about common men’s health problems.
Cancers specific to men
Some cancers only affect men. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men. One out of every nine men is diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s also the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Prostate cancer may show different warning signs or symptoms:
- blood in semen
- problems urinating
- pain or discomfort in the pelvic area
- erectile dysfunction
However, there may be no symptoms or warning signs of prostate cancer in its early stages. There isn’t a generally accepted standard for prostate cancer screening. It’s important to talk to your doctor about screening options.
Testicular cancer is another male-specific disease. The incidence of testicular cancer has been increasing for several decades, but the reasons for this remain unknown. Unlike prostate cancer – which is more common in older men – the average age of diagnosis for testicular cancer is 33 years of age. The risk of death from testicular cancer is very low, however. Testicular cancer is typically easy to treat and the lifetime risk of death is 1 in 5,000.
Like prostate cancer, there is no standard for testicular cancer screening. Most cases of testicular cancer are found during self-examination.
Men’s health includes mental health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three men go through a period of major depression at some point. People sometimes don’t realize that there’s a connection between depression and heart disease. Depression can lead to conditions and behaviors that increase a person’s risk for heart disease such as drinking, smoking, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Also, men who have heart disease are at a higher risk for depression than men who do not have heart disease.
Suicide is three and a half times more common in men than in women. Many men don’t seek the help that they need. Some men don’t want to talk about feelings or mental health problems because of the stigma of mental health. Others feel as though depression, anxiety, or mental health issues should be dealt with personally.
There’s strength in seeking help for mental health issues, however. Talk to friends and family for support, and meet with your primary care provider to discuss options.
5 easy ways to take the initiative with men’s health
Exercise every day. You need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 1 hour and 15 minute of vigorous aerobic activity each week. The great thing about exercise is that the more physically active you are, the greater the health benefits.
In addition to exercise, manage your weight through a healthy diet. Avoid unhealthy foods that are highly processed, high in trans and saturated fats, and high in refined sugars and sodium. Staying at a healthy weight decreases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. It also improves your overall quality of life.
Don’t smoke cigarettes and if you drink, do so in moderation. Smoking causes lung cancer and contributes to cardiovascular disease. Drinking alcohol impairs judgement and coordination, and it can cause lasting damage to your heart, liver, and pancreas.
Get support from friends and family if you’re struggling with feelings of sadness, stress, depression, or anxiety. You don’t have to deal with mental health issues on your own.
Talk to your doctor. Your primary care doctor is there for all of your physical and mental health needs. Get in the habit of visiting your primary care provider at least once a year for an annual wellness exam.