June is Men’s Health Month, so we’re tackling the top men’s health risks and how you can help protect yourself from them.
- Heart Disease
It’s the number one killer for men, with the most common form being Coronary Artery Disease. A man’s risk of heart disease rises significantly starting at age 45, and 1 in 3 men will have some form of cardiovascular disease in their lifetime. So how can you lower your risk of Heart Disease?
- If you smoke or use tobacco products, it’s time to quit. Period.
- Get your Blood Pressure checked by a physician yearly. If you have high blood pressure, seek advice on how to lower it and keep it under control.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking too much causes high blood pressure.
- Maintain a heart-healthy diet, and make physical activity a priority. Trade foods high in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fats for fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.
Cancer can strike anyone, but the types more commonly found in men are prostate cancer (which is the leading cancer killer of men in the United States), skin cancer, lung cancer and colon and rectal cancer. You can lower your risk of getting cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle, wearing sunscreen and getting regular checkups with your doctor. If you have a family history of cancer, you have increased risk of getting cancer too, so talk with your family about any cancers that run in your family, and share that information with your doctor. The earlier cancer is detected, the more treatable it is. By getting these screenings regularly, you can detect early signs of cancer:
- At age 50, schedule both a Colonoscopy and a Prostate Exam.
- If you are a smoker, get a Low Dose CT Chest Screening to check for signs of Lung Cancer.
- Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
These respiratory diseases usually start with an innocent “smoker’s cough.” Over time, that cough can lead to life-threatening conditions – think lung cancer, emphysema or COPD – that interfere with normal breathing. While exposure to harsh chemicals such as asbestos cause greater risk, smoking still remains the leading cause of cancer. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: “If you smoke, it’s time to quit!”
Type 2 is the most common form of Diabetes, and lucky for you, it’s preventable. Many men have it for years and never know until they develop problems such as vision loss, kidney disease or erectile dysfunction. So, what’s your action plan to preventing diabetes? Maintaining an ideal body weight is the most important thing you can do, along with these steps:
- Eat healthy.
- Exercise regularly.
- Know your family’s history of diabetes, and discuss it with your doctor.
If you’re over the age of 45, you should be screened every 3 years.
- Accidents (Unintentional Injuries)
Even though I hate to admit it, you’re not invincible. Unintentional injuries are the number 3 cause of death in the United States, and they account for 1 of every 4 emergency department visits. Death can result from various types of accidents and in many cases can be prevented. Here are just a few steps you can take to lower your risks:
- Don’t drive when you feel sleepy.
- Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Don’t accept a ride with an impaired driver.
- Wear your seat belt.
- Look for safety issues around your home, and remove tripping hazards that can cause falls.
- Use safety gear during sports activities.
- Be especially careful with ladders, power equipment and chemicals when working around your home.
Addressing your health can be scary, but avoiding it altogether can be deadly. So go on… make that appointment with your primary care doctor! This article was written by Dr. Ben E. Owens Jr., internal medicine specialist with St. Bernards Clopton Clinic. A Jonesboro native, he earned his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Tennessee Affiliated Hospitals. He holds an undergraduate degree in zoology from Arkansas State University and has practiced medicine in Jonesboro for more than 25 years. Owens serves on the St. Bernards Healthcare Governing Board and the Clopton Clinic Board and is medical director of St. Bernards Hospice and Home Health.