Next to women, men have shorter life expectancies and are less likely to visit a doctor unless something seems dire. However, men’s quest for health isn’t doomed. By taking an active role in their health, men can advocate for themselves at the doctor and get the care they need. Here are a number of the most common men’s health problems—and how to prevent them.
View our infographic at the bottom of this post for more information on the 5 most common health issues men face.
1. Heart Disease
According to the American Heart Association, a third of men have cardiovascular disease of some kind. Young men under age 45 tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure compared with women, and then the male health gap evens out as they get older.
Men’s heart health benefits from habits including sleeping seven to nine hours a night and taking standing breaks intermittently when sitting for long periods of time. Staying away from cigarettes—whether men smoke themselves or are around others who smoke—is vital.
2. Lung Cancer
Even though women are more likely to live with lung cancer, men get diagnosed with the disease more often every year. The main danger that threatens men’s health is smoking, followed by exposure to breathable carcinogens like asbestos. Regardless of gender, people die at higher rates of lung cancer than breast, ovarian, colon and prostate cancer all together.
Again, avoiding smoking is essential to lowering this common men’s health problem, which includes staying away from secondhand smoke. Northwest Primary Care has helpful resources for smokers looking to quit. Vigilant men should also consider testing their houses for radon and wearing personal protective equipment like masks when exposed to toxic chemicals at work. As usual, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and working out almost every day lowers male health risk factors.
3. Alcohol Abuse
According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 10 million men in the United States have an alcohol use disorder. That’s almost twice the rates of women, leading alcohol abuse to be a distinct male health threat. Three-quarters of those who die from alcohol poisoning are male. Irresponsible drinkers also pose threats to more than just their own health. According to the CDC, for instance, around 10,000 people die are killed by drunk drivers each year.
Symptoms of alcohol use disorder include regularly drinking more than intended, not being able to cut down on drinking after resolving to do so, and indulging in alcohol even when it causes problems with jobs and loved ones. If you’re unsure about what constitutes an alcohol problem, consulting with a doctor is a great first step.
4. Skin Cancer
The most common cancer to jeopardize male health is skin cancer. Sun damage over the years adds up, increasing their risks as they age. White men over age 50 are especially susceptible to melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, preventing the disease boils down to protecting your skin from the sun. From staying in shade midday, to applying SPF 30+ sunscreen when you’re exposed to UV rays, and wearing long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat, there are options to nip this common men’s health problem in the bud. Men should take time each month for a detailed self-examination of their whole body.
Diabetes is a quiet threat to men’s health. It was estimated that 1 in 3 boys born in 2000 would develop diabetes later in life. Across gender lines, men are more prone to developing Type 2 diabetes than women, in general. Furthermore, some don’t even know they have it: Around 30 percent of all people with diabetes haven’t been diagnosed.
Men can slash their Type 2 diabetes risk by exercising, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and low in processed foods, not smoking, and cutting down on alcohol. The American Diabetes Association recommends starting regularly diabetes screenings at age 45.
Men have more power over their health than they may realize. And they don’t have to take on prevention alone. NWPC has been advocating for men’s health for years. We’re here to help.