For the next month, November will be known as "Movember" in order to raise awareness for men's health. Movember is an annual campaign that runs throughout the month of November to raise awareness for men's health. Held by The Movember Foundation - the leading global organization dedicated to supporting men's health - the campaign challenges men to grow moustaches to generate conversation and raise funds for men's health issues including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and other common diseases. The goal of Movember is "to change the face of men's health." To date, The Movember Foundation has raised $650 million and is currently funding over 1,000 year round programs in numerous countries. The efforts made as a result of this annual campaign continue to improve and save the lives of men who are greatly affected by these issues each year.
Many of the common diseases that men often suffer from are preventable. However, the only way we can prevent ourselves from developing disease and living a long, healthy life is by knowing the facts and knowing how to protect ourselves.
The Facts: Top 10 Preventable Diseases That Kill Men
1. Coronary Artery Disease - Leading cause of death for men in the United State, accounts for 1 in every 4 male deaths.
Prevention: High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are some of the conditions that can lead to heart disease. Keep your cholesterol low, maintain a healthy weight and diet, get regular exercise, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, keep your blood sugar under control, and if necessary, discuss options with your doctor regarding medications.
2. Cancer (Lung, Prostate, Colorectal and Testicular) - Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men. 90 percent is caused by smoking. Prostate cancer and skin cancer are the most common.
Prevention: While cancers are not always preventable, early detection saves lives. Have routine preventive screenings, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, maintain a healthy weight and diet, exercise regularly, limit sun exposure and use sunscreen, be aware of carcinogens, and know your family's medical history.
3. Unintentional Injuries (Falls, fires, and impaired driving; Clearly not a disease, but is a major cause of death in men.)
Prevention: Exercise regularly to increase strength and improve balance, have medications reviewed to reduce side effects and interactions, have annual eye exams, reduce hazards in your home, install smoke alarms (half of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms), double check safety of heating units (most residential fires occur during winter), avoid excessive alcohol consumption (40 percent of residential fire deaths are alcohol-related).
4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - 80-90 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking. Men are nearly 12 times as likely to die from COPD then men who don't smoke.
Prevention: Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Avoid exposure to occupational chemicals - may increase chance of developing COPD.
5. Stroke - One American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes.
Prevention: The leading risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, carotid or other artery disease, atrial fibrillation or other heart disease, TIAs (mini-strokes), high red blood cell count, sickle cell anemia, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol intake and some illegal drugs.
6. Diabetes - In 2012, 15.5 million men were diagnosed with diabetes.
Prevention: Type 2 Diabetes affects 90 percent of those with the disease. The best way to prevent or control the onset of diabetes is by knowing the risk factors that can be modified and those that can't. Modifiable: Overweight and obesity, high blood glucose, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, physical inactivity, smoking. Non-modifiable: Age, race, gender, and family history.
7. Suicide - In 2012, white males accounted for 65 percent of all suicides.
Prevention: Depression is an extremely difficult disease to overcome on your own. If you are depressed, speak to your doctor. In an emergency situation, visit your local emergency room or crisis center (crisis centers often have hotlines you can call.) It is important to let someone know if you are feeling depressed. Take advice from others if they are encouraging you to seek help. Other ways to improve your emotional health include taking care of yourself physically, practice stress-reducing activities, sharing your feelings with a friend or family member, maintaining an organized lifestyle, and avoiding using drugs and alcohol to cope.
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
Prevention: Get an annual flu vaccination, get a vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia at least once after age 55 (followed by every 5 years if you have risk factors), always wash your hands, avoiding others with infection, don't smoke, and maintain a strong immune system.
9. Alzheimer's Disease. The only cause of death in the top ten that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia. Besides men, almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.
Prevention: There is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer's disease. However, it is suggested that improving your heart health may help. You can improve heart health through regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. According to the CDC, research shows that intellectually challenging activities may help delay the onset of dementia.
10. Chronic liver disease. In 2014 it was estimated by the American Cancer Society that there were about 33,190 new cases (24,600 in men and 8,590 in women) of chronic liver disease. About 23,000 people (15,870 men and 7,130 women) will die of these cancers.
While not all diseases, especially cancers, are preventable, early detection saves lives. Therefore, in addition to raising awareness for others, it's important that all men celebrate Movember for themselves too. Talk with your doctor to discuss the top recommended health screenings for men. This way, you can stay healthy, protected, and keep yourself aware. Even if you feel good, you should make regular visits to your doctor to screen for health issues, assess your risk of future health issues, stay up to date with vaccinations, and discuss how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These visits can help you avoid problems down the road.