The Most Common Health Threats to Men and How to Prevent Them
November 29, 2019
The way men approach their overall health may contribute to the fact that certain preventable and treatable health concerns lead to more deaths in men than women. Men are more likely than women to:
- Make risky decisions
- Make unhealthy choices
- Consume alcohol and use tobacco products
- Delay or put off getting regular checkups and/or medical care
Below, we discuss some of the most common health concerns among men and how to prevent them or catch them early on to get appropriate treatment.
Cardiovascular disease is the most important health issue affecting men in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among men in the US, and the American Heart Association tells us that more than one in every three men has some form of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease includes a wide range of complications involving the blood vessels (veins and arteries), like atherosclerosis, which can lead to coronary events like a heart attack or stroke.
Being physically active and eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can help reduce one’s risk of developing heart disease.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and is the second deadliest cancer among men. All men are at risk of developing the disease, as the most important risk factor is age. However, men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease.
All men should be regularly examined for signs of prostate cancer, even if they do not have any symptoms. But the age at which annual screenings should begin depends on each individual’s risk. For example, men with a family history (a brother or father who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer) should begin regular screenings at age 40.
A study published in Diabetologia shows that men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women. The study found that men develop type 2 diabetes at a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to women. BMI is a ratio that compares a person’s weight to their height to get an approximation of their total body fat. A higher than average BMI is a risk factor for many conditions, including diabetes.
Eating a well-rounded diet rich in vegetables and fruits, along with having a consistent exercise program can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
Although women are almost twice as likely to develop depression, nearly 3.5 times more men die by suicide. Doctors and researchers think this is because men, in general, are less likely than women to talk about their feelings or seek help for depression. Depressive symptoms can also be different in men—manifesting as anger and irritability instead of feelings of sadness—which can make it more difficult for family and friends to notice signs of depression in men.
Most people respond well to treatments for depression: talk therapy, antidepressant medications, or a combination of the two. People who get treatment for depression early on are more likely to find relief from depressive symptoms and are less likely to relapse.
Two lifestyle behaviors place men at a higher risk of developing liver disease: More men use tobacco products than women, and men are more likely to consume excessive amounts of alcohol compared to women. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing certain conditions of the liver, like liver cancer and cirrhosis. Heavy tobacco use (at least two packs a day for 10 years or more) has also been linked to liver damage.
Limiting or quitting tobacco and alcohol use significantly decreases one’s risk of developing liver disease.