The Focus on Men’s Health

Guest post by Hema Cherukooru

Every June, Men’s Health Week (usually the week leading up to and including Father’s Day) focuses on highlighting awareness of preventable health problems and encourages early detection and treatment of disease among boys and men⁷. This week provides an opportunity for providers, the media, public policy makers, and individuals to encourage boys and men to get regular medical advice and early treatment for injury and disease⁷. According to the CDC, in the US men on average die five years earlier than women, and the three leading causes of death are: heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries¹.

The percent of men aged 20 and over, who are obese is about 40.5% as per statistics in the years 2015 to 2018 from CDC².  Obesity is linked to heart disease, high cholesterol, heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and many other health risks³. Maintaining a healthy waist of below 40 inches is helpful in reducing the above risks⁴. Shedding belly fat can be achieved by cutting calories and exercising more for most men⁴. 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in men, it would be good to include heart healthy foods like fresh vegetable and fruits, whole grains (such as  whole grain breads and brown rice), fiber-rich foods (such as leafy greens and beans), lean meat (such as skinless chicken breast and lean ground beef), and fish (such as salmon)⁴. Reduce the intake of processed and packaged foods high in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, artificial additives and calories⁴. 

Increase physical activity by including every week a regular exercise routine of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes vigorous aerobic exercise⁴. Include muscle strengthening activity twice a week⁴. Regular exercise helps prevent heart disease, maintain a healthy weight, and improve physical and mental well-being⁴. 

Consulting the doctor is an important preventive measure⁴. Regular check-ups would help catch small problems before they manifest themselves into bigger problems¹. It also helps to monitor blood pressure, weight, cholesterol in the blood and other factors by the doctor⁴. This would help to detect any potential risks, medication and lifestyle changes may be recommended by the doctor⁴.

According to CDC, about 15.3% of men aged 18 and over smoke, and about 30.9% aged 18 and up drink 5 or more drinks in one day, at least once in the past year (2018). Smoking causes cancer, stroke, heart disease and are at a greater risk for erectile dysfunction¹. Smoking and second-hand smoking increases risk of many types of cancer⁴. Consumption of excessive alcohol and other recreational or habitual drug are other health-damaging behaviors⁴. Some men use anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass and can lead to serious health consequences⁴. It is important to seek the help of a doctor to break any unhealthy habits⁴. 

Melanoma is a skin cancer, the risk increases in men over 50 years and higher among Caucasians⁴. Some of the precautions when outside would include: spending time in shade, use of sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, reapplying sunscreen in case of sweating or swimming once in every 2 hours, and wearing protective clothing⁴. Avoid tanning beds as they are a harmful source of UV radiation⁴. 

Most common cancer diagnosis among American men over the age 50 is prostate cancer followed by colorectal cancer⁴ ⁵. Prostate cancer is associated with signs of trouble urinating, developing pain when urinating, or the presence of blood in urine⁴. Blood tests, prostate exam, and colonoscopy may be recommended, please consult a doctor for further information⁴.

Dietary supplements and other natural products are promoted to address men’s health issue, however there is no scientific evidence on the effectiveness and safety of these supplements⁵. 

Finally, seek a mental health professional in case help is needed. Mental health is as important as any other health problems¹.

Men’s health month is created to bring awareness and practice healthy habits in boys and men. Men are less likely to seek medical attention than women and more likely to smoke, drink too much alcohol, and make risky and unhealthy choices³.  Dedicating June to men’s health helps to focus on health problems and barriers and how to overcome them. Healthy eating, exercise, and consulting a doctor can help with achieving good health status.

Take charge of your health! Wear blue in June to support your dad, brother, spouse, boyfriend, friend, or boss to show that you care and support them⁶. And visit the resources/sites listed below for further information.

Image credit: Men’s Health Network

Hema Cherukooru is a dietetics student at the University of Northern Colorado pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics.

References

  1. HHS.gov (5/29/2020).  Minority health. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/content.aspx?ID=10238#:~:text=June%20is%20Men’s%20Health%20Month,as%20exercising%20and%20eating%20healthy.
  2. CDC.gov (April 14, 2021). Men’s Health. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mens-health.htm
  3. Health.gov (October 15, 2020). Take Action: Healthy habits. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/doctor-visits/regular-checkups/men-take-charge-your-health
  4. Healthline.com (December 2, 2016). What do you want to know about Men’s Health? Retrieved May 10, 2021 from   https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health#diet
  5. NCHP.org. National Men’s Health Month. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from  https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/mens-health
  6. Men’s Health network (n.d.). Wear Blue. Retrieved May 12 , 2021, from https://www.menshealthnetwork.org/wearblue/
  7. Men’s health month (n.d.). Men’s health week. Retrieved May 14, 2021 from https://www.menshealthmonth.org/week.html