Every June, Men’s Health Month focuses on educating males about preventable health issues while stressing the importance of doctor visits and self-care. Those looking for motivation to adopt healthier habits should consider some of these sobering statistics regarding men’s health:
1. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men (and women) in the United States.
Men, however, are twice as likely than women to have a heart attack. The most common sign is chest pain/discomfort, but other symptoms include fatigue, congestion, swelling, stomach pain, jaw pain and/or numbness in the arm. Like many chronic conditions, a healthy diet, exercise and avoiding tobacco helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Those who are overweight, have hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, or lipid disease/hyperlipidemia are at a higher risk for heart disease and should consult their doctor on the best methods of prevention.
With the opioid epidemic sweeping our country, it’s crucial for individuals and families to educate themselves on the safe use and disposal of prescription medications. It can be difficult to address the symptoms of addiction, but bringing this conversation to the forefront allows loved ones to receive the support and care they may need. If you or a loved one are struggling, consult medical and mental health professionals to help determine the best course of action.
3. More men are smokers than women.
Smoking causes damage to nearly every major organ in the body. It is also a risk factor for various chronic conditions and life-threatening diseases, which are known to kill one in two smokers. For every individual, a different approach may improve the odds of curbing the habit for good. Connecting with a primary care physician is a great way to learn more about the resources available, which may include online tools, support groups and/or quit plans. In some cases, employers will even offer incentivized programming to encourage their workforce to quit. Though it can take eight to 10 attempts to successfully quit, the health benefits of kicking the habit progress quickly.
4. Nearly 75 percent of American men are considered overweight or obese.
Both men and women should maintain a nutrient-dense diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and dairy while limiting their intake of saturated fats, sugar and sodium. However, males should pay attention to how much lycopene, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin B12 they’re getting as well. Maintaining a healthy weight also involves regular physical activity, including aerobic exercise and strength training for all major muscle groups throughout the week.
5. One in three males are at risk of developing some form of cancer in their lifetime.
Colorectal, lung and prostate are the most common types of cancer affecting men in the U.S. Knowing family health history and making time for tests/screenings, including a colonoscopy and prostate exam, can help identify abnormalities early on. It’s important to remember exercise and a diet low in processed foods have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Of course, smokers should take the steps necessary to quit and all individuals should limit alcohol intake.
6. Six million men are affected by depression every year in the United States.
In many cases, men suffering from mental health issues such as depression/anxiety often go undiagnosed. The National Institute of Mental Health shares that males often fail to notice symptoms, or simply choose not to seek help. Because of this, it’s important for loved ones to learn the signs of mental health issues. Symptoms can include fatigue, isolation, irritability, weight loss, restlessness and insomnia, among others. Though occasional feelings of stress or sadness are normal, reoccurring symptoms could indicate an undiagnosed psychological disorder.
Dr. Raymond Hobbs is a physician consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.