How to test for the top 3 men’s health issues
Did you know that, statistically, men live five years shorter than women? This is caused by the fact that men take health for granted and don’t always go to the doctor’s when they should. Apart from women, that have regular mammograms and PAP smears, men tend to not ask for help when they feel something is wrong. They’re not willing to ask for directions when they get lost in an unknown place, so why should they ask for help when it concerns their body? If it’s not broken, why fix it?
The main health issues men are facing, especially over the age of 45, are the following:
- Cardiovascular disease – Even though heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women, males under the age of 65 are three times more likely of dying of heart disease than women. Finding out the values of your blood pressure and cholesterol level and being aware of the differences between good and bad cholesterol early on in life, can help prevent heart disease. Knowing at the age of 25 what your cholesterol value is helps manage heart issues later in life. You can easily avoid medication if you commit to a healthy lifestyle of exercise, diet, regularly consuming fruits and vegetables and portion control. Medicine has come a long way and heart doctors are now really good at putting cardiac stents, angiograms and doing bypasses, but a healthy preventive diet and having regular tests in order to catch it early on, can help you not get to this point.
- Cancer – People now live longer and longer. Even though heart disease is getting easier to prevent and keep under observation, cancer is on the rise. Men are especially affected by lung cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma.
- Lung cancer kills 2 and a half more men than women. Men with a high risk of developing lung cancer (smokers or men who work in toxic conditions) can get regular check-ups recommended by their doctors. The tests may include CT scans, sputum cytology (analyzing the sputum from a cough under the microscope) or a tissue sample (biopsy).
- Prostate cancer can be caught early on by getting your PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test at 40 and using it as a baseline for later on. This will help you keep the issue under control and take preventive measures. Having an elevated PSA does not always require a biopsy or surgery: sometimes it could be an enlarged prostate or an ordinary inflammation, but sometimes it can be cancer. All the MRIs and genetic tests can really catch cancer early-on and it can be treated with minimally invasive methods and limited side effects.
- Melanoma is the cancer with the greatest increase in incidence since 1973 and kills almost twice more men than women. It can be diagnosed by simply looking at the skin or, more accurately, by running a biopsy. Sometimes it can be transmitted genetically, but it can be prevented by not exposing the skin to the sun and wearing sunscreen on the visible parts of your body.
- Diabetes – Apart from type 1 diabetes, which is genetic, type 2 is mainly caused by obesity. Sugar is a part of the issue, but not the only cause. Changes in your lifestyle such as regular exercise, keeping a Mediterranean diet, eliminating belly fat by really paying attention to what you’re eating and how much, will go a long way. Measuring the values of your hemoglobin A1C will tell you the average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. A value below 5.6% is considered normal, one between 5.7%-6.4% means you have a chance of getting diabetes, and higher than 6.5% means the disease is already active. People with pre-diabetes and diabetes need to have the test once every three months or at least twice a year, if the values are constant and the regime is strictly followed.
Knowing your family’s history, especially from the paternal line, can be extremely helpful in indicating what tests to regularly take in order to prevent diseases, or to catch them in the early stages. Find out if you had diabetes, heart disease or cancer in your family tree and be responsible with regular screenings and tests. Make sure you’re in the hands of expert doctors that can take really good care of you over the years.