Below is a list of the top 6 identified health threats to men as well as ways they can be avoided.
- Cardiovascular Disease: This continues to be the leading health threat for both men and women – one in five men and women will die from it. Half of men who die suddenly of this disease have no previous symptoms – so even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk. Some key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. Other risk factors can include: diabetes, being overweight, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol consumption. A lot of these risk factors are lifestyle choices and can be reversed. If you smoke - stop, drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, increase your physical activity to 30 minutes a day, and eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or trans fats. Also, get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly, and get them under control if they are at unhealthy levels. If you don’t have a PCP (Primary Care Physician) already, you can find a doctor that’s right for you.
- Prostate Cancer: Right ahead of lung cancer, prostate cancer is the leading cancer in men. In fact, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This particular cancer is slow-growing and luckily most tumors are found in time for effective treatment, however, there are still some healthy habits that can reduce your chances of developing it. Don’t smoke, drink plenty of liquids, exercise and maintain a healthy weight, consume fruits, veggies, and fish, and of course, keep up with your schedule of health screenings. For treatment of cancers such as prostate cancer, El Camino Hospital offers minimally invasive surgery and robotic-assisted surgery – the most effective and least invasive prostate cancer surgery available.
- Lung Cancer: This is the second most common cancer in men next to prostate cancer and is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Smoking is still the leading cause of most lung cancers at 90% - so quitting smoking is a huge preventative measure. While this is a challenging feat, your doctor can provide guidance and possibly provide tools to help you quit. Generally, by the time lung cancer is found, it is often advanced and difficult to cure – so early detection is key. If you’re considered at high risk for developing lung cancer, El Camino Hospital’s cancer program offers screening services.
- Diabetes: This is another disease that can often begin without any symptoms. When the most common symptoms occur, frequent urination and excessive thirst, the disease is well established. The unfortunate effects of diabetes can include heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and limb amputations. Lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the chance of diabetes – since being overweight and obese are advancing the epidemic. Exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the chance of diabetes by more than 50% in men at high risk.
- Erectile Dysfunction: This isn’t a life threatening health problem, but it could indicate a more serious condition. Men with ED also report less enjoyment in life and are more likely to develop depression. ED is generally caused by atherosclerosis – which is something that also causes heart attacks and strokes. Therefore, ED can be a warning sign for impending cardiovascular disease. Luckily there are many effective treatments for ED that allow for a fulfilling sex life, but talk with your doctor about other possible health risks relating to ED.
- Depression and Suicide: Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all men, and higher for younger men. Identifying depression in men is different than in women; women tend to show sadness and cry, but men tend to get angry and aggressive. Depression is easily treated with medications, therapy, or both in combination. If you believe that you are depressed, talk to your doctor. El Camino Hospital offers a wide range of mental health services and your doctor can refer you.
This article first appeared in the October 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.