Men's Health Month: What's Affecting Men?

June is Men’s Health Month, and the week of June 11th is Men’s Health Week! This is a time to bring awareness to the health issues that are facing men in increasing numbers. Support the men you care about and raise awareness by wearing blue on Friday, June 15th and posting to social media using the hashtag #ShowUsYourBlue.

It is important to know what these concerns are, how to prevent them, and how to treat them. Of the top 10 leading causes of death, nine out of 10 affect men at higher rates than women. Men are at least 40% more likely to be affected by heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and suicide. These staggering statistics represent a number of issues present in men’s health care.

Check out four of the leading health issues facing men, and what steps you can take to prevent them for yourself or a loved one.

Most Common Health Issues Affecting Men

1. Diabetes

Men are more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for many reasons. One of the most recent findings from a study out of the University of Glasgow is men will be diagnosed with diabetes at a lower body mass index (BMI) than women. This is attributed to the way that women and men store fat in their bodies.

Not only do our bodies store fat differently, men are slightly more likely to be overweight than women as well. Research conducted by the CDC shows nearly 70% of men are at some level of overweight with 20% of men at Grade 1 obese.

There are symptoms unique to men that may seem like they are a sign of something else, but can actually be a sign of type 2 diabetes. If you are concerned about diabetes or feel like you may be at risk, check out the table below by The Diabetes Council. It can help you identify some of the common, yet misleading symptoms of diabetes.

Diabetes Council Symptoms of Diabetes in Men | Men's Health Week

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the most prevalent causes of death in the United States. 1 in 4 men died from complications relating to heart disease in 2013 alone. There are a plethora of health factors and symptoms due to the range of medical issues that fall under the umbrella of heart disease. Most of the risk factors are lifestyle based like poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive alcohol use. Family members who have had heart disease put you at a higher risk as well.

A few of the most common symptoms are fatigue, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, chest pain, and high blood pressure. High blood pressure affects nearly half of all Americans and they are not aware of it! And that can cause serious, lifelong complications if left unchecked or untreated.

If you have any of the above symptoms, have a familial history of heart disease, or haven’t gotten your blood pressure checked recently, you should speak to your doctor right away. Heart disease is more common than you think, and it affects men disproportionately more. So this Men’s Health Month, encourage all the men in your life to get their hearts checked.

3. Cancer

Nearly half of American men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, in contrast with one in three women. Prostate and testicular cancers are two of the most common cancers that men will be diagnosed with, but the good news is early detection is the key to a 95% survival rate.

While men are more likely to develop prostate cancer with age, testicular cancer is most common in younger men between the ages of 15 and 44. There is a hereditary and race element to a positive diagnosis as well. According to The Movember Foundation, African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer at a younger age and should be starting the conversation with their doctor younger than men of other races. Testicular cancer is more likely to return in men who have already been diagnosed in the past.

Some signs of prostate cancer are the need to urinate frequently, difficulty urinating, weak flow, painful or burning sensation, painful ejaculation, and blood in urine or semen. And if you don’t know how to check for testicular cancer, here is a quick fact sheet from the Movember Foundation about self-examinations!

4. Suicide

Men are nearly 4 times as likely to commit suicide. It is one of the leading causes of premature death among men in the United States and it is one of the fastest growing causes of death among all Americans. A new report put out by the CDC shows that over half of the people who have committed suicide in the last two decades have no known mental health illness, which makes preventing and treating suicidal thoughts much more difficult. A large factor in men committing suicide at higher rates is simply that society tells men they cannot ask for help.

Undiagnosed mental illness is one reason why men tend to commit suicide more frequently than women. Some signs of suicide are increased use of drugs or alcohol, acting recklessly, isolating themselves from friends or activities, irregular sleeping patterns, loss of interest, anxiety, and irritability. The CDC study also found that relationship issues, financial issues, drug abuse, and an upcoming crisis were large factors in committing suicide.

CDC Suicide Factors | Men's Health Week

How to Prevent or Treat Men’s Health Issues

1. Diabetes

How to Prevent

Diabetes is hard to prevent in our world today with sugar added to nearly anything you eat! However, diet is the best way to prevent a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Regular exercise can keep the pounds off as you age and can aid in proper digestion of the foods you eat.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, age and gender play a huge role in a diabetes diagnosis. Men, in particular, should be proactive and get their blood glucose levels checked after 40. It’s a great way to check how close you are to diabetes. If you have pre-diabetic glucose levels, definitely talk to your doctor about what changes you can make to your lifestyle to keep diabetes away!

How to Treat

Again, diet is a huge factor in treating type 2 diabetes. A diet high in healthy fats and proteins like avocados, olive oil, almonds, cashews, beans, and lean meats, and low in carbs and sugar will help your glucose levels manageable. If you’re living with diabetes, check out these healthy foods you should focus your meals on from the American Diabetes Association!

There are a lot of studies about managing your type 2 diabetes and getting into remission. A study by the ADA found that around 1.6% of participants in this particular study were able to achieve some level of remission. While it’s rare, diabetes remission is possible through diet, exercise, and in extreme cases, weight loss surgery. But if you maintain a healthy lifestyle you can live fairly complication free with your diabetes.

2. Heart Disease

How to Prevent

A healthy diet is the best way to prevent heart disease. In fact, diet and exercise is the best way to prevent a number of the leading causes of death. Proactive health checks are great methods of prevention. Men under the age of 45 should get their blood pressure taken every two years. Over the age of 45, all adults need their blood pressure monitored yearly, as the risk increases each decade of life. Make sure you stay active and keep stress levels down to ensure you aren’t increasing your risk of heart disease. And check out the Men’s Health Resource Center for heart-healthy eating habits!

How to Treat

With nearly half a million men per year dying from heart disease, prevention and treatment are imperative. There are many different treatment options depending on exactly what kind of heart problem you have. Lowering your cholesterol through a healthy diet is the best way to control your heart disease issues. Talk to your doctor about different medications specific to the type of heart issue you have.

3. Cancer

How to Prevent

There are no foolproof methods for preventing cancer, but there are ways you can reduce your risk. The Mayo Clinic suggests a low-fat diet with the majority of your fats coming from plants like avocados and olive oil. Reducing or eliminating dairy from your diet is also a great preventive. Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise not only prevents diabetes and heart disease, but it can keep cancer at bay as well.

How to Treat

With an incredibly high survival rate among men diagnosed with prostate or testicular cancer, treatments are vast. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and removal surgeries (if applicable). You must consult your doctor about the right treatment option for you.

4. Suicide

How to Prevent

Suicide Prevention is hard to nail down because the causes of suicide are so vast. The best way for you to prevent suicidal thoughts is to talk to someone you trust. If that’s not your doctor, a friend or family member you feel comfortable opening up to is great. Even the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) is a great place to turn to if you have no one else. Regardless of who you talk to, talking about your feelings and concerns is the best prevention method out there.

Men struggle with addressing their mental health as a product of our society. The Movember Foundation found that only 48% of men feel like they can rely on their friends in times of need. If someone you know seems to be struggling, try to reach out to them. Ask questions and listen as they may not seek help on their own.

How to Treat

Treatment is out there for those suffering from suicidal thoughts. There is no stigma if you seek or accept help for a mental health issue. If you feel ashamed or worried about your issues, find a therapist discretely online through the ADAA website. There are online therapy options, and the Suicide Prevention Hotline is 100% anonymous.