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Men’s Health Awareness Month: How Yearly Checkups Can Save Lives

mens health awareness slingshot health branded stethoscope and necktie

As the start of Men’s Health Month is quickly approaching, it is important to highlight the importance of men’s health. From fathers to brothers, it is crucial that the men in our life remain healthy and take care of themselves.

To start, we need to first understand what Men’s Health Month is in the first place. Issued by the Senate Joint Resolution in 1994, men’s health is now celebrated throughout the month of June and specifically, the week leading up to Father’s Day, June 11–17th. Through health fairs, screenings, and increased physical activities nationwide, we hope to raise awareness of men’s health and emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle by seeing a health professional for regular medical checkups.

Men are More Susceptible to Certain Types of Illnesses than Women


Source: https://visual.ly/community/infographic/health/men-vs-women-1-reason-avoiding-colonscopy-and-other-health

There have been numerous studies indicating that men are less likely to see a doctor than women. According to a recent study by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 80% of men refuse to see a physician without encouragement from a spouse or partner.

Pride, risky behavior, and increased susceptibility to disease are just some of the many reasons men deny seeking medical attention; however, refusal to visit a doctor has not come without consequence, and according to the same study by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, males have a shorter life expectancy (76.2 years) than that of a women (81.1 years) and have a higher death rate (886.2 male deaths per 100,000 population) than that of women as well (634.3 female deaths per 100,000 population).

From not seeking medical help to basic anatomy, there is a difference between men’s health compared to that of women’s. Generally, men’s health is comparatively worse than that of women’s.

  • Currently, men are dying an average of 5 years younger than women and lead 9 out of 10 of the top causes of death.
  • Men are at greater risk for death in every age group. More males than females are born (105 vs 100), but by age 35, women outnumber men.
  • About 35% more men than women are diagnosed with and die from colon cancer
  • Heart attacks tend to strike women later in life (average age of 72 compared with 65 for men)
  • Men do not see physicians for a physical exam nearly as often as women and men are more likely to be uninsured than women.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Common Illnesses

One of the best ways to increase men’s health is by becoming aware of common illnesses and the symptoms that may be present. Recognizing certain symptoms can help you to choose the correct screening and may indicate that it is time to see a doctor immediately. Diseases such as prostate, testicular, skin and colon cancers, hypertension, obesity and heart disease can treated if diagnosed in its early stages.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer occurs when testicular cells become abnormal in one or both testicles. It is the most common cancer in 20- to 35-year-old men and has two main types: seminomas and nonseminomas,

Although the exact cause of this cancer is unknown, there are certain identified risk factors:

  • Undescended testicle(s)
  • Congenital abnormalities (for example, kidney, penile abnormalities)
  • Family or personal history of testicular cancer
  • Race/ethnicity: White men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than black men.

There are certain symptoms that are associated with prostate cancer. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, be sure to seek appropriate medical attention:

  • A lump in or on a testicle (testicular lump) is the most common sign
  • Shrinking of a testicle
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen or in the groin
  • Any enlargement or swelling of a testicle and/or scrotum;
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum

There are specific steps that you can take to detect early stages of this cancer. Some of the screening recommendations include:

  • Chest X-rays, CT, MRI, and PET scans
  • Physical exam and history: The testicles will be examined to check for lumps, swelling, or pain. Your family history will also be looked at.
  • Ultrasound exam
  • Serum tumor marker test
  • Inguinal orchiectomy
  • Biopsy of testicular tissue may be done.

Prostate Cancer

As the most common cancer in men, approximately 11.2 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. This cancer is readily detectable and if found in its early stages, is treatable.

There are certain risk factors that make you more susceptible to the disease. If any of the following factors applies to you or someone you know, make sure to take necessary precautions:

  • Age: The older you are, the higher risk. More than 80% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older.
  • Race/ethnicity: Black men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than white men.
  • Family history
  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome.
  • Dietary habits: Even though there is not concrete evidence that proves that the food you eat directly causes prostate cancer, there are numerous studies that suggest a connection.
  • Other genetic changes such as HPC1, HPC2, HPCX, CAPB, ATM, and FANCA

Prevention: Although there havs been advancements in the known risk factors, there is no conclusive recommendation on prostate cancer. However, chemoprevention and diet modifications such as increase in lycopene, zinc and selenium consumption can help.

There are certain symptoms that are associated with prostate cancer. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, be sure to seek appropriate medical attention:

  • Painful or difficult urination, and frequent urination, especially at night
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Reduced urinary flow or velocity
  • Blood in the urine (a condition known as hematuria)

Men between the ages of 55 and 69 should be screened with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The digital rectal exam (DRE) may also be done as a part of screening. If no prostate cancer is found as a result of screening, the time between future screenings depends on the results of the PSA blood test.

Skin Cancer

As the most common type of cancer in both genders, skin cancer develops in 1 in 5 Americans. Skin cancer is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells on the skin and is caused by overexposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays from the sun. Fortunately, skin cancer can be diagnosed and treated easily.

There are certain factors that pose you at a higher risk for this disease. If any of these risk factors apply to you, make sure to take the proper care necessary:

  • Fair skin, freckles, blond or red hair, and blue eyes
  • Weakened immune system
  • History of prolonged or excessive sun exposure, including blistering sunburn
  • Many moles
  • Family history of melanoma

Luckily, skin cancer can be preventable simply by avoiding sun exposure. Using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wearing hats and long pants and sleeves, and avoiding exposure to artificial forms of UV radiation, such as sunlamps and tanning beds are all things you can do to significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer.

There are certain signs that may indicate that you have skin cancer. Be sure to seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms apply to you:

  • Change of skin
  • Moles, scaly patches, open sores, or raised bumps.
  • Long lasting sores that bleed or ooze.
  • The presence of numerous actinic keratoses

Currently, there aren’t studies that indicate the effectiveness of routine screenings for skin cancer. The best way to determine if you have skin cancer is to be assessed by a dermatologist.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine and is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the United States. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, benign clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps, which over time, can become colon cancers.

As with the previous diseases, there are certain risk factors that may make you more prone to getting colon cancer.

  • Inherited colon cancer syndromes such as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
  • A western diet of high fat and low fiber.
  • Older age
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions.
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Radiation therapy for cancer.

The most preventive way to reduce the risk of this cancer is making sure you follow a healthy diet. Exercising, drinking less alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight are all ways that can help decrease the risk.

There are certain symptoms that are associated with colon cancer. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, be sure to seek appropriate medical attention:

  • A change in bowel habits: diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, lasting longer than four weeks
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Because polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms, it is imperative that you take the necessary screenings to avoid colon cancer. People with an average risk of colon cancer can consider a colonoscopy beginning at age 50, while people with a family history of colon cancer should do so sooner.

Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is very high. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing many serious health problems, such as heart disease, a stroke and kidney disease. In the US, about 75 million people have hypertension.

There are certain identified risk factors that make you more vulnerable to having hypertension:

  • Age: the older you are, the more at risk you are.
  • Race/ethnicity: High blood pressure is more common among people of African heritage
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Certain chronic conditions, including kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.
  • Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in families.
  • Obesity/overweight
  • Stress.
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Too much salt (sodium) in your diet.
  • Too little potassium in your diet.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.

The recommended way to decrease the risk of hypertension is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol and stop smoking.

Known as the “Silent Killer”, most often, there are no signs of hypertension; however, in severe cases of high blood pressure some symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Feeling confused or other neurological symptoms such as headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue

The most effective screening you can do to find out if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings.

Raise Awareness in June

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to promote awareness of preventable health problems among men and boys and encourage early detection and treatment of these diseases. There are many activities that you can do to commemorate Men’s Health Month and spread awareness. .

wear blue logo for mens health awareness month

Source: https://uropartners.com/news

Plan a Wear BLUE Event: June 15th

Host a Wear BLUE day to educate others about health issues that affect men and raise awareness of men’s need to seek regular checkups.

Plan a Mini Health Fair

Coordinate with nonprofits, doctors, wellness centers and other health croups to plan a mini health fair. At the fair, there can be health screenings and other activities that promote physical movement. These fairs can be held in any popular place such as community centers, hospitals, libraries and other public areas!

Distribute Blue Ribbon Pins

Get in the spirit and distribute blue ribbon pins! It’s an easy and fun way to raise awareness of men’s health.

Plan Fitness Activities

Whether it’s going on a run or playing frisbee, any physical activity is a good start. Get together with your neighbors and friends and plan to be healthy and active together.

Schedule a Visit to the Doctor

Last but not least, take the men in your life for a checkup. Yearly checkups can save lives and just by encouraging or accompanying them to visit a doctor can make a big impact.

About Slingshot Health

Slingshot Health is a health tech startup that brings top healthcare providers and patients together. Patients bid on the cost of services and healthcare providers accept bids based on availability. Slingshot Health is unique in that it is a mutual marketplace putting both patients and providers back in control. Visit us at slingshothealth.com.