Please note that this post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have any concerns please consult an appropriately qualified medical professional.
This Saturday, 19 November, is International Men's Day. Celebrated worldwide, this event aims to recognize the positive value men bring to the world and those around them, highlight positive male role models, and increase awareness of issues related to wellbeing for men and boys.
In the spirit of 2022’s theme, “Helping Men and Boys,” we wanted to highlight some of the most common men’s health issues you should be aware of. By understanding your risk factors and knowing the signs to look out for, you can take steps to protect yourself and keep yourself as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
According to the American Psychological Association, around 9% of American men report feeling depression or anxiety daily. Of those sufferers, 1 in 3 take medication and 1 in 4 speak to a mental health professional such as a therapist. This means that there are a lot of men out there who are suffering in silence and not seeking the help they need.
Though more women than men are diagnosed with depression, men are about four times more likely to die by suicide. This may be due to increased societal stigma associated with mental health difficulties in men.
If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, see a therapist, call a crisis helpline, or make an appointment with your doctor. You can also help yourself by maintaining a healthy lifestyle (exercise is particularly associated with a reduction in depression), making time for hobbies, journaling your thoughts and feelings, and avoiding depressants such as alcohol.
The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut that is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is part of the male reproductive system. Prostate issues are very common, particularly in men over 50, and can have a major impact on health and quality of life.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men (skin cancer is the most common.) Fortunately, it is also one of the most survivable if caught and treated in Stages 1 and 2. Most prostate cancers develop in men over 65, and men of African American and Caribbean heritage are at slightly higher risk than men of other races according to Cancer.org.
Prostate cancer often causes no symptoms in its early stages. When it is more advanced, symptoms may include blood in your urine or semen, trouble urinating, erectile dysfunction, bone pain, and losing weight without trying.
It’s important to remember that not all prostate issues are cancer. Prostatitis is common in younger men. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is another non-cancerous prostate condition, common in men over 50. Urinary difficulties, such as more frequent urination or difficulty passing urine, are more likely to be associated with BPH than cancer according to Cancer Research UK.
No matter your age, if you are experiencing any symptoms, see your doctor straight away. They will be able to diagnose or rule out cancer and advise you on an appropriate course of treatment for other prostate conditions.
According to Harvard Health, heart attacks are twice as likely to occur in men than women over the course of a lifetime and heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 male deaths in the US. It is still unclear exactly why this discrepancy between the sexes exists but, according to WebMD, the average age of death from heart disease in men is under 65.
The best way to cut your risk of heart disease is to live as healthy a lifestyle as you can. Eat a balanced, plant-rich diet and limit heart-unhealthy foods such as processed food, refined sugars, saturated fats, and red meat. Try to get 30 minutes of physical activity most days, limit the amount of alcohol you drink, and if you smoke, stop. It’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Symptoms of heart problems, when they occur, may include chest pain, upper back or neck pain, heartburn, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, a fluttering feeling in your chest (heart palpitations), and extreme fatigue. Remember that even if you exhibit no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.
Lung Cancer and Respiratory Diseases
Lung cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers. In its early stages, it often shows no symptoms, but it can spread rapidly. This means that it is often not diagnosed until it is too late. According to The NHS, only around 2 in 5 people (40%) with lung cancer will survive for at least a year after diagnosis.
When it does show symptoms, lung cancer may present as a persistent cough, feeling of breathlessness, or unexplained tiredness. Sufferers may also cough up blood, lose weight without trying, or feel pain while breathing or coughing.
Lung cancer is slightly more common in men than women for one simple reason: men are more likely to smoke or have smoked at some point in their lifetime. According to VeryWellHealth, only about 1 in 12 male sufferers of lung cancer have never smoked.
There is currently no early detection test for lung cancer, but if you smoke regularly (or have ever done so) it is a good idea to see your doctor about your potential cancer risk. And if you smoke, stopping as soon as possible is your best chance at preventing lung cancer over the course of your lifetime.