Many of us celebrated Father’s Day a few Sunday’s ago, but fathers, as well as the other important men in our lives, remain the focus of the entire month of June. June is National Men’s Health Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness of the biggest threats to men’s health today. According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, on average a man’s life expectancy is six years shorter than a woman’s. Heart disease and cancer are currently the two leading threats to men’s health, followed by automobile accidents, bronchitis and emphysema, stroke, type II diabetes, and suicide. While some risk factors for these diseases, such as genetics, family history and age cannot be controlled, regular visits to the doctor and a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of serious health events.
The following are some healthy tips to reduce men’s risks:
1. Quit smoking or avoid secondhand smoke! Smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and lung diseases such as emphysema or bronchitis.
2. Start a healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, fiber and whole- grains. Find leaner sources of protein and consume fewer alcoholic drinks.
3. Begin or maintain a daily exercise routine. Exercise, along with a healthy diet, can greatly reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, stroke and type II diabetes.
4. If currently on medications for high blood pressure or cholesterol, make sure that you are taking these medications every day. Nucara Pharmacy will soon be offering a “NuFill Program”. All regular medications can be filled automatically each month (ask an associate next time you stop in).
5. Use sunscreen and protect yourself from the sun to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
6. Visit the doctor each year to check for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and prostate health.
Prostate health continues to be a common issue with men over the age of 50. Each year 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and approximately 50% of men in their 60s have symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate. For African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer, the risk for cancer can begin as early as age 40. African Americans are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as other races. A yearly rectal exam or blood test is recommended for men ages 50 and above without family history or race-related risk factors.
With age, less testosterone is produced by the body. Symptoms of low testosterone include reduced muscle mass, fatigue, irritability or depression, and low sex drive. Men with these symptoms should talk to their doctors about treatment options.
Celebrate Men’s Health Month this year by wearing blue to raise awareness of prostate cancer, making healthy lifestyle choices, or participating in free screenings that are being made available throughout the month of June.
Written by: Lindsey Munsch, University of Iowa PharmD Candidate