The top causes of death among adult men in the U.S. are heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can reduce your risks by making a few lifestyle changes.
How Is Your Lifestyle?
You can take charge of your health by making healthier lifestyle choices:
- Don’t smoke. If you can’t stop, get your doctor to help you quit. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and exposure to chemicals (such as in the workplace).
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated fat and sodium. ( I tell readers this all the time on my blog!)
- Maintain a healthy weight. Lose excess pounds – and keep them off – it can lower your risk of heart disease and various types of cancer.
- Move. Did you know you may lower your risk of certain types of cancer by including physical activity in your daily routine? You know exercise can help you control your weight and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose sports or other activities you enjoy, from basketball to brisk walking. Walking your dog counts too!
- Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation: up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger and one drink a day for men older than age 65. Liver cancer appears to increase with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Also, drinking until you’re drunk is not a manly thing, it makes you look pathetic and it makes your breath smell awful.
- Manage stress. If you feel constantly on edge or under assault, your immune system might suffer. Take steps to reduce stress – or learn to deal with stress in healthy ways. Remember, strenuous exercise reduces stress. Work out, jog, lift weights, swim, etc.
Do You Avoid the Doctor?
Don’t wait to visit the doctor until something is seriously wrong. Why do you men do this? It’s not macho to avoid the doctor, it’s sissy! Your doctor can be your best ally for preventing health problems. Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations if you have health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. Also, be sure to ask your doctor about when you should have cancer screenings and other health evaluations.
What Other Factors Put You at Risk?
Motor vehicle accidents. Another common cause of death among men are motor vehicle accidents. To stay safe on the road, use common sense. Wear your seat belt. Follow the speed limit. Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substances, and don’t drive while sleepy. I’ve broken off relationships with several men (amid other reasons too) because they would speed or drive recklessly. Think about how your passenger feels: she/he doesn’t have any control of the vehicle. How would you feel in her/his place?
Suicide. This one surprised me. Suicide is another leading men’s health risk. An important risk factor for suicide among men is depression. If you have signs and symptoms of depression – such as feelings of sadness or unhappiness and loss of interest in normal activities – consult your doctor. Treatment is available. If you’re contemplating suicide, call for emergency medical help or go the nearest emergency room.
Prostate trouble. In my opinion, they should have included prostate trouble on this list and they didn’t. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 6 men. It is estimated that there are more than 2.5 million American men currently living with prostate cancer.
According to a New York Times article, an enlarged prostate is often called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is not cancer, and it does not raise your risk for prostate cancer.
An enlarged prostate means the gland has grown bigger. Prostate enlargement happens to almost all men as they get older. As the gland grows, it can press on the urethra and cause urination and bladder problems. I had dated a man who was in his late 30’s who had prostate problems. Did he go to the doctor? No. He waited until the pain got so bad that he couldn’t hide it from me anymore. I encouraged him to go to the doctor. He went. Problem solved.
The Bottom Line
Understanding health risks is one thing. Taking action to reduce your risks is another. Start with healthy lifestyle choices – eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, quitting smoking and getting recommended health screenings. The impact may be greater than you’ll ever know.
Please men, don’t just stand there – do something about your health! Women! Get after your men!
Sources: Mayo Clinic Newsletter