It’s the time of year where an entire month is devoted to raising awareness on the issue of men’s health.
Founded in Australia by two good friends back in 2004, Movember is an annual charity event that takes place across the month of November – where men grow a moustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health projects.
The movement targets some of the most prominent health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, and has since grown to fund more than 1,200 men’s health initiatives across 21 countries.
About Men’s Health
There’s an old joke about a man who goes to visit his doctor, complaining that he sees spots.
“Have you ever seen a doctor?” the receptionist asks him.
“No, just spots.”
You may chuckle, but the joke reflects a general truth: men are less likely than women to seek regular health checkups and medical care.
“Study after study has shown that men are more reluctant to face up to worrisome symptoms or go to the doctor for checkups,” says Timothy Johnson, MD, ABC News Medical Editor.
Statistics also say:
- Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and make unhealthy or risky lifestyle choices
- The average life expectancy for men in the United States is about 76.2 years (about 5 years less than women)
- 12.1% of American men who are 18 years of age or older are in fair or poor health
Why men are less likely to care for their health
Men tend to play their cards slightly closer to the chest and are less open with their feelings, particularly when it comes to their physical and mental health. As a result, they are more likely to shrug off or ignore illnesses.
However, according to Zac Seidler from the University of Sydney: “Men do want to seek help, and will engage in treatment if they are given the type of help tailored to their needs.”
It’s a good idea for men to start taking a more proactive approach to their health and invest more time in getting checked out on a regular basis. Many of the health conditions that men face (such as prostate cancer, colon cancer or heart disease) could be prevented, or detected earlier through screening, which often leads to better treatment outcomes.
About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, which accounts for about 22% of all male deaths from cancer. About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Approximately 5%-10% of all cancers are hereditary (including prostate cancer), meaning that an increased risk for the disease may run in the family. A man who has one close relative with prostate cancer – for example, a father or a brother – is twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as a man with no family history of the disease.
Meanwhile, if two close male relatives are affected, a man’s lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer is increased five-fold.
How To Be Aware of Family Cancer History
Being aware of your family health history is an important part of a lifelong wellness plan. Even if you don’t have a history of cancer in your family, it’s always a good idea to find out as much as you can and be prepared.
To learn more about your family cancer history:
- Ask questions
- Check your family’s medical records (if possible)
- Fill in the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s Cancer Family History questionnaire (and try to get your immediate family/relatives to do so as well)
Write down whatever you learn and share it with your doctor so that they can review it and assess your disease risk. If your doctor suspects that you may have a hereditary cancer, they will be able to help you understand more about your condition, and can inform you what next steps are available.
Note: According to the American Cancer Society, men with a history of prostate cancer should talk to their doctor at age 40 or 45 about the pros and cons of prostate cancer testing. Because African American men are at higher risk for the disease, they should also have this talk (whether they have a family history or not).
Quick Tips For A Healthier Lifestyle
Great news: healthy living can help prevent some of the leading causes of death for men! Here are some quick tips to help you begin living a healthier lifestyle this month:
Eat and drink healthy
The National Academy of Medicine recommends men get 125oz (around a gallon) of water per day for optimal health. Cut down on alcohol consumption as well – drink only in moderation. Food-wise, you’ll want to start eating less trans fats, cut down on sodium, and consume more fiber. Focus on nutrients rather than calories, and eat a good variety of healthy food.
Get enough sleep
Most adult men need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order to stay healthy. Poor sleeping habits can contribute to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.
According to the CDC, more than half of American adults aren’t getting enough physical activity to provide health benefits. Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Try to aim for an age-appropriate mix of aerobics, muscle training and stretching to stay fit.
Maintain good prostate health
The prostate grows as you get older, pressing on the urethra – which may result in symptoms like frequent night-time urination. This condition is known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH (which 90% of men will have by age 85). Fortunately, BPH can be prevented or reversed with balanced testosterone levels – and also by living a healthier lifestyle, with a balanced diet, adequate sleep, exercise and regular health checkups (as we’ve mentioned above).
Take herbal supplements
Some herbal supplements, such as Nested Naturals Saw Palmetto, can provide natural support for a healthy prostate. Research shows that Saw Palmetto likely works by impeding the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which may result in supporting urinary health by slowing the growth of the prostate.