Focus on Men’s Health
Thanks to the efforts of the Men’s Health Network, along with research conducted by universities, hospitals and governmental agencies, information on men’s health issues are readily available to help clear up a host of misconceptions. Statistics show that women are much more likely to take proactive steps towards better health than men. All the more reason a men’s health focus month is a crucial start to help educate the public on the current health concerns for men.
According to the latest research heart disease and being overweight are the current front runners of men’s health concerns. Many people believe that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, but lung cancer is leading culprit. There are many myths surrounding male menopause and it’s health impacts. During the month of June’s education focus on men’s health many common fallacies will be dispelled.
According to the latest CDC (Center for Disease Control) report:
-Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009, that’s 1 in every 4 male deaths.
-Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.
Obesity, Overweight, and Lack of Physical Activity
For more than 30 years, excess weight, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet have been considered second only to tobacco use as preventable causes of disease and death in the United States. Since the 1960s, tobacco use has decreased by a third while obesity rates have doubled.
In men, the following cancers are associated with being overweight: colorectal cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer of the tube that connects your throat to your stomach), and cancer of the kidney and pancreas. Several of these cancers also are associated with not getting enough physical activity.
Adopting a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity can help prevent these cancers.
Belly fat in men: Why weight loss matters
Belly fat is nothing to joke about. Find out what causes belly fat, the health risks it poses for men and what you can do to lose the extra pounds.
If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, you’re not alone. But this is one case where following the crowd isn’t a good idea. Carrying extra weight – especially belly fat – can be risky.
Michael Jensen, M.D., an endocrinology specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., answers common questions about belly fat in men.
Why is belly fat a concern for men?
People who gain belly fat are at greater risk of serious health problems, even death, than are people who accumulate fat in other areas – and men are more likely than women to gain weight around the waist. Regardless of your overall weight, having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of:
-High blood pressure
-Some types of cancer
-Type 2 diabetes
-Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol
Remember, you can lose belly fat – it just takes patience and effort. In fact, shedding even a few extra pounds can help you feel better and lower your risk of health problems.
Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke
More men in the United States die from lung cancer than any other kind of cancer, and cigarette smoking causes most cases. Smoking also causes cancers of the esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and acute myeloid leukemia. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their lung cancer risk by 20-30%. Concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.
One of the most important things you can do to lower your risk of cancer is to stop smoking if you smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men. All men are at risk for prostate cancer, but older men, African-American men, and men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher risk.
Not all medical experts agree that screening for prostate cancer saves lives. Currently, there is not enough evidence to decide if the possible benefit of prostate cancer screening outweighs the risks. CDC supports informed decision making, which occurs when a man:
-Understands the nature and risk of prostate cancer.
-Understands the risks of, benefits of, and alternatives to screening.
-Participates in making the decision to be screened at a level he wants.
-Makes a decision consistent with his preferences and values.
Colorectal (Colon) Cancer
The third leading cause of cancer deaths in American men is colorectal cancer. Screening tests for colorectal cancer can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best. Everyone should be tested for colorectal cancer regularly starting at age 50.
A few serious sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer. To protect your skin from the sun, seek shade or go indoors during midday hours; wear long sleeves and long pants, a hat with a wide brim, and sunglasses; use sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher; and avoid indoor tanning.
Aging-related hormone changes in men – sometimes called male menopause – are different from those in women. Understand signs, symptoms and treatment options.
Hormone changes are a natural part of aging. Unlike the more dramatic reproductive hormone plunge that occurs in women during menopause, however, sex hormone changes in men occur gradually – over a period of many years. Here’s what to expect, and what you can do about it.
Debunking the male menopause myth
The term “male menopause” is sometimes used to describe decreasing testosterone levels or a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone related to aging. Female menopause and so-called male menopause are two different situations, however. In women, ovulation ends and hormone production plummets during a relatively short period of time. In men, hormone production and testosterone bioavailability decline more gradually. The effects – such as changes in sexual function, energy level or mood – tend to be subtle and might go unnoticed for years.
So what’s the best way to refer to so-called male menopause? Many doctors use the term “andropause” to describe aging-related hormone changes in men. Other terms for so-called male menopause include testosterone deficiency, androgen deficiency of the aging male and late-onset hypogonadism.
Understanding male hormones over time
Testosterone levels vary greatly among men. In general, however, older men tend to have lower testosterone levels than do younger men. Testosterone levels gradually decline throughout adulthood – about 1 percent a year after age 30 on average. By about age 70, the decrease in a man’s testosterone level can be as much as 50 percent.
Recognizing low testosterone levels
Some men have a lower than normal testosterone level without signs or symptoms. For others, low testosterone might cause:
Changes in sexual function. This might include erectile dysfunction, reduced sexual desire, fewer spontaneous erections – such as during sleep – and infertility. Your testes might become smaller as well.
Changes in sleep patterns. Sometimes low testosterone causes sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, or increased sleepiness.
Physical changes. Various physical changes are possible, including increased body fat; reduced muscle bulk, strength and endurance; and decreased bone density. Swollen or tender breasts (gynecomastia) and loss of body hair are possible. Rarely, you might experience hot flashes and have less energy.
Emotional changes. Low testosterone might contribute to a decrease in motivation or self-confidence. You might feel sad or depressed, or have trouble concentrating or remembering things.
It’s important to note that some of these signs and symptoms are a normal part of aging. Others can be caused by various underlying factors, including medication side effects, thyroid problems, depression and excessive alcohol use. A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low testosterone level or a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone.
Feeling your best
If you suspect that you have a low testosterone level, consult your doctor. He or she can evaluate possible causes for your signs and symptoms and explain treatment options. You can’t boost your natural testosterone production, but these steps might help:
Be honest with your doctor. Work with your doctor to identify and treat any health issues that might be causing or contributing to your signs and symptoms – from medication side effects to erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues.
Make healthy lifestyle choices. Eat a healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily routine. Healthy lifestyle choices will help you maintain your strength, energy and lean muscle mass. Regular physical activity can even improve your mood and promote better sleep.
Seek help if you feel down. Depression in men doesn’t always mean having the blues. You might have depression if you feel irritable, isolated and withdrawn. Other signs of depression common in men include working excessively, drinking too much alcohol, using illicit drugs or seeking thrills from risky activities.
Be wary of herbal supplements. Herbal supplements haven’t been proved safe and effective for aging-related low testosterone. Some supplements might even be dangerous. Long-term use of DHEA, for example, has no proven benefits and might increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Treating aging-related low testosterone with testosterone replacement therapy is controversial. For some men, testosterone therapy relieves bothersome signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency. For others, however – particularly older men – the benefits aren’t clear. The risks are a concern as well. Testosterone replacement therapy might increase the risk of prostate cancer or other health problems. If you wonder whether testosterone injections or other testosterone treatments might be right for you, work with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons.