Turning 40 is a major milestone. It is when the realization creeps up that you are now in the middle of your life. It is also when people – particularly men – need to start paying attention to their bodies to lessen the odds of heart disease, cancer, debilitating injuries, diabetes and other problems in the not so distant future.
Here are the 10 biggest health risks men in their 40s need to address to mitigate future health issues:
- Not Bothering to Get Regular Physicals
Younger men typically ignore their health. But, in their 40s, men begin to see signs of impending age and their mortality. They need to be pushed into the doctors office for a physical. Catching potential issues before they become problems, or while they are correctable, can add years to a man’s life. In addition, once a man turns 40, he needs to talk to his doctor about a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test. If the PSA levels in his blood are elevated, it may indicate prostate cancer.
- Having A Spare Tire
By their 40s, men are more likely to have belly fat, which can be a precursor to diabetes and heart disease. The danger zone is a waist size that’s over 40 inches. It used to be that more women were obese than men, but the percentages are now about even (35.5 percent for men and 37 percent for women). The reality is that around age 40, the body isn’t as able to get rid of the fat and extra calories like it used to. Things that used to burn off easily will now accumulate around the midsection. Muscles are also beginning to atrophy. It is time to get serious about diet and exercise to both keep obesity at bay.
- Stressing Out
The responsibilities that come with life in middle age, such as career, finances, caring for children and aging parents, can be a lot to deal with. However, it is critical to manage the stress level with daily activities like, moderate exercise, relaxing evenings, playing with the dog or picking up a book and escaping into another life. Stress management is critical, since stress is one of the three main risk factors for coronary disease and can lead to heart attacks.
- Thinking Sun Screen is for Sissies or Women
Men are two times as likely as women to develop skin cancer and men are also more likely to die from it. In fact, 6 out of 10 cases of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, are in white men over 50. Men tend to be outdoors more, either working at their job, working in the yard or playing sports outdoors. They have shorter or thinning hair and do not wear makeup with SPFs like women. In fact, less than half of men claim to use sun protection (sunscreen, protective clothing, shade), in contrast to 65 percent of women.
- Having a Crummy Diet
Most leading causes of death in men over 40 are tied to poor nutrition: heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Excess junk food and greasy, salts fast food leads to excess weight, hypertension, high cholesterol and other problems. Foods to avoid include those high in saturated or trans fats, simple sugars, high-fructose corn syrup and non-whole grains (white bread and rice).Also, older men living alone can suffer from malnutrition from not eating a balanced, proper diet.
- Being Hot Shots Behind the Wheel (or On The Slopes)
Men have more car accidents than women. Men over 45 have more accidents on snow and ice, too. The fact is that unintentional injuries of all kinds are the leading cause of death among men in their early 40s and the third main cause for men ages 45 to 64. Among middle-aged men, fatalities result from falling asleep at the wheel, speeding, getting into an accident after midnight; women do not have the same injury and accident levels.
- Ignoring Down Times
Depression isn’t just singing the blues and “sadness.” Men often fail to realize that common signs of depression can be fatigue or excessive sleep, restlessness, an inability to experience pleasure, trouble concentrating, and changes in appetite. It’s important to take care of mental health in your 40s. Changes in mood are a normal part of life, but extremes are not. Yes, more women than men suffer from depression, but men shouldn’t ignore warning signs ask their doctor about mental health screening.
- Sensory Degradation
If you didn’t need glasses before age 40, the odds are that you will afterwards. Men in their 40s typically experience problems with their close range vision, especially while reading or on the computer. They may even need bifocals-glasses designed for reading as well as distance-just to function everyday. Old age hearing loss probably hasn’t started yet, but hearing isn’t as sharp in your 40s. Face it, the senses just aren’t what they used to be. In fact, even the sense of smell and taste are not as strong.
- Not Being Married
Study after study has shown that married men, especially men once they are in their 50s on up, are healthier and live longer than those who never married, divorced or were widowed. For example, those who never-married are three times more likely to die from heart disease. One theory why is that marriage reduces stress levels and depression. Unmarried men may also have bad health habits, such as drinking, eating poorly and engaging in more risky behaviors.
- Tobacco Use
The fact is that the more years you smoke or chew tobacco, the greater the potential for damage to your body. Tobacco is one of the worst health risks men can take: Smoking causes over 90 percent of all Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is the fourth leading cause of death among men, and most lung cancer. Smokers develop Alzheimer’s disease far more than nonsmokers, and men over 65 who smoke have double the risk of a stroke death. Don’t think it’s too late to do something about it. Studies show that quitting really makes a difference; the risk of stroke, lung disease and cancer drop immediately after quitting and the risk of added heart damage drops in half after one year.
Healthy Living in Your 40s – Health Communities
Stronger Faster Better Older – Esquire
Men: Health tips for your 40s – MD Anderson Center
Cancer Incidence by Age – Cancer Research UK
Are You at Risk for Sudden Death?- Mens Health
A Women’s Guide to Men’s Health – Women’s Day