10 Top Health Risks for Men
The 10 biggest health problems for men include heart disease, COPD, depression, liver disease, diabetes, skin cancer, and AIDS. Learn what to watch out for.
You’re Not Invincible
If you take better care of your car or favorite electronic gadget than your own health, you are not alone. According to experts at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, men’s overwhelmingly dismissive attitude towards their health can have dire consequences in the long run.
Move from your man cave to a medical provider to significantly reduce top serious health risks like cancer, depression, heart disease, or even respiratory diseases.
Heart disease comes in many forms, all of which can lead to serious, fatal complications if left undetected. The American Heart Association indicates that more than one in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease. Black men account for 100,000 more cardiovascular disease mortality cases than white men.
Stroke targets an estimated 2.8 million men and high blood pressure is common in younger males. Routine check-ups can help keep that heart beating.
COPD and Other Respiratory Diseases
Various respiratory diseases usually start with an innocent “smoker’s cough.” Over time, that cough can lead to life-threatening conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema, or COPD—all of which interfere with normal breathing.
According to the American Lung Association, each year, more men are diagnosed with and develop lung cancer than in years past. Black men are at increased risk for dying from the disease compared to other racial or ethnic groups. While exposure to occupational hazards such as asbestos is an increased risk, smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer.
Alcohol: Friend or Foe?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women do. Men binge drink twice as much and are prone to increased aggression and sexual assault against women.
Alcohol consumption increases risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. Alcohol also interferes with testicular function and hormone production, resulting in impotence and infertility. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, if a problem drinker does not seek help, he is more likely to commit suicide.
Depression and Suicide
Researchers at The National Institute of Mental Health estimate that at least six million men suffer from depressive disorders including suicidal thoughts annually. If you’re depressed, the NIMH recommends these tips:
- set realistic goals
- surround yourself with loved ones
- postpone important decisions
- seek professional help
Unintentional Injuries and Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed unintentional injury as a leading cause of death for men in 2006. This includes drowning, traumatic brain injuries, and fireworks-related mishaps.
Motor vehicle death rates for male drivers and passengers ages 15 to 19 were almost twice that of females in 2006. And male workers incurred 92 percent of the 5,524 total reported fatal occupational injuries. Remember: you are not Superman. Be careful.
Your liver is the size of a football. Its functions include digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and ridding the body of toxic substances. Liver disease includes conditions such as cirrhosis, viral hepatitis, autoimmune or genetic liver diseases, bile duct or liver cancer, and even alcoholic liver disease.
According to a study posted by the American Cancer Society, alcohol and tobacco use increase your chance of developing liver disease.
The American Diabetes Association celebrates today’s “modern man” as someone who is more aware of his blood sugar health. Men with diabetes face greater risk for sexual impotence and lower testosterone levels, which can lead to increased depression or anxiety. But that’s not all: when left untreated, diabetes can lead to nerve and kidney damage, heart disease and stroke, and even vision problems or blindness.
Your action plan? Healthy eating and exercise.
Influenza and Pneumonia
Influenza and pneumococcal infection are two leading health risks for some men. Men who have compromised immune systems due to COPD, diabetes, congestive heart failure, sickle cell anemia, AIDS, or cancer, are more susceptible to these illnesses.
The American Lung Association urges older males—especially African American men and men over the age of 65—to get vaccinated. Studies show that vaccinations can be up to 70 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations for both influenza and pneumococcal infection in those over 65.
The bottom line: get your shots.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, men over 50 are at highest risk for developing skin cancer—more than twice the rate as women. Why? Because of more sun exposure and fewer visits to the doctor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing long sleeves and pants, hats with wide brims, sunglasses, and sunscreen when outdoors for either fun or work. Lower your skin cancer risk by avoiding exposure to UV light that comes from tanning beds or sunlamps.
HIV and AIDS
Men who are infected with HIV may not realize it, as initial symptoms may mimic a cold or flu. However, new infections are on the rise among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in 2009, 61 percent of all new HIV infections were attributed to same-sex activity and that 69 percent of new HIV infections were among young males aged 13-29.
Now that you know about the top 10 health risks that affect men, what’s next? Changing your habits and becoming proactive about your health. Organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society offer direct resources and support for today’s modern man.
Addressing one’s health is scary, but avoiding it altogether can be deadly. Go on, make that appointment.