No one is invincible against health risks, but everyone can take precautions to give themselves a leg up on health. Here are five health risks for men and how to prevent them.
Heart Health and Cardiovascular Disease
It's estimated by the American Heart Association that one in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease. Every form of cardiovascular disease can lead to serious and fatal complications if left undetected. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in men thanks to years of plaque buildup from cholesterol. Getting routine heart checkups can keep the heart in healthy function and monitor any signs of heart complications that may result from genetics or lifestyle.
Men can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, eating a more plant-based diet and less saturated and trans fats, and having cholesterol levels checked every five years after the age of 25.
Men tend to face skin cancer more often than women. Men spend more time outdoors over the course of a lifetime, most of the time without wearing protective sunscreen. Men can reduce their exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, sunglasses, and a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15. UV light is most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. so seek shade when possible. It goes without saying that tanning beds and sunlamps are best to avoid.
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Depression and Suicide
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it's estimated that 6 million men struggle with depressive disorders and suicidal thoughts. The problem with recognizing depression in men is that men are prone to hiding their emotions and express things differently than women. For example, men tend to show more anger or aggression or drink heavily compared to women who tend to cry or show obvious sadness.
There are many medications for depression that can be prescribed by a medical doctor if it is a suitable treatment for depression. Non-medical ways to cope with depression include regular exercise, keeping a daily journal, opening up to close friends and family, seeking therapy, and removing any weapons or unsafe items from the home.
Excessive Drinking and Alcoholism
Men tend to binge drink twice as much as women, which means they face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations. Excessive drinking increases the risks of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. Alcohol also negatively affects testicular function and hormone production, which can end in impotence and infertility.
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Diabetes is one of the highest leading causes of death in American men, and men traditionally suffer from more diabetes-related health issues than women. Being aware of the warning signs—increased hunger and thirst, exhaustion, erectile dysfunction, blurred vision, and slow healing of wounds—can help detect diabetes early. If untreated, diabetes can lower testosterone levels and cause impotence. To combat diabetes, eat a balanced diet, and get regular exercise.