Men as babies start off really well. Hundreds of years of research have consistently shown that more baby boys outnumber girls at birth. It is speculated that this could be nature’s way of countering the relatively high mortality rates of males in order to bring about more gender balance in the population.
But by the end of a man’s life, he will be surrounded mainly by women who have outlived their husbands by about five years.
It is known that men face more daunting health odds than women. Some of this could be due to biology, the type of work they do, or the fact many men place their health last on their list of what to take care of.
Every man will have his own individual reasons for the condition of his health. But if they took the time to at least become more aware of conditions they are at risk for, they could possibly start earlier in life to make lifestyle changes to prevent them to begin with.
Here are five top health risks many men face – knowledge is power and men have that power within them to avoid unnecessary health issues during their life.
1. Cardiovascular disease
The American Heart Association states that more than one in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease. African-American men face even higher odds of developing it as they account for 100,000 more cardiovascular deaths than Caucasian men.
Worldwide, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in men with the U.S. having some of the highest rates. Cardiovascular disease gradually over years forms plaque made up of cholesterol that can eventually narrow or block arteries to the heart and brain.
In order for men to avoid cardiovascular disease, they have to work much harder at it. Several things men can do to reduce their risk include the following:
· Beginning at age 25 and then every five years after, get cholesterol levels checked
· Keep blood pressure under control
· Either quit smoking or never start to begin with
· Increase physical activity to at least 30 minutes each day, most days of the week
· Eat a more plant-based diet and less saturated and trans fats
2. Skin cancer
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., and men contract this disease more frequently than women. There are several reasons for this ― men tend to spend more time outdoors over their lifetime, they often fail to wear sunscreen (only about 14 percent of men use sunscreen), and they may not know the warning signs of skin cancer.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, two-thirds of melanoma deaths are attributed to men with 60 percent of all melanoma deaths were white men over the age of 50. This is more than twice the rate of women.
Men can do many things to protect their skin from harmful UV exposure from the sun:
· Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 when outdoors
· If wearing a baseball cap or short-sleeved shirt, put sunscreen on ears, neck, and arms
· Stay in the shade as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. which is when UV light is the highest
· Avoid indoor tanning
3. Depression and suicide
Depression has always been thought of as affecting more women than men yet the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that at least 6 million men suffer from depressive disorders including suicidal thoughts.
Recognizing depression in men can be tough. Men will generally hide their feelings or express them in different ways than women. Instead of crying or showing sadness, men often display anger or aggressiveness or cope by drinking too much.
To combat depression, men should reach out to their doctor or someone close to help them. Many of the medications for depression can bring a person out of their depressive state helping them to get on with their lives. Other ways men can deal with depression may include:
· Getting regular exercise
· Journaling or writing down their thoughts
· Communicating with friends and family
· Seeking professional help with a therapist trained to treat depression
4. Problem drinking or alcoholism
When it comes to alcohol, for men it is not always their friend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states men face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. They also binge drink at twice the rate of women and are more prone to increased aggression and sexual assault against women when under the influence of alcohol.
The effect of heavy drinking, whether man or woman, is not kind. It can increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. For men, it can also interfere with testicular function, and hormone production which could result in impotence and infertility.
Getting a man to acknowledge they have a drinking problem is not easy. Sometimes it might take an intervention where family and friends - often with the help of a professional counselor – get together to confront the person urging them to seek help. If a man agrees to get help, take them immediately, as they may change their mind. Speaking with a drug and alcohol counselor or seeking help from groups such as al-anon, can also be valuable resources to use.
Diabetes is now considered the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and men who have the disease who will suffer more from diabetes-related health problems than women.
If a man develops diabetes before the age of 30, they can develop retinopathy, a vision disorder that can lead to blindness, more quickly than women. Signs of peripheral vascular disease due to diabetes includes pain in the thigh, calf or buttocks during exercise, sores that don’t heal and swelling, can cause a two-to three-fold increased risk of coronary heart disease for a man. Men also are at a 1.4 to 2.7 times higher risk for amputations due to diabetes-related problems than women.
Men need to learn the signs of diabetes – increased thirst, hunger, and urination, excessive tiredness, erectile dysfunction, blurry vision, slow healing of wounds, and numbness or tingling sensations in the extremities, can indicate he has the disease.
The sooner a man address these issues with his doctor, the sooner he can get diagnosed and learn how to better manage his diabetes in order to reduce the health complications associated with it.