Men’s Health Month: Learn the Facts, Then Act

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June is Men’s Health Month, an important time to take stock of the challenges facing men and their wellness. We’ve compiled a selection of some of the most important stats in men’s health, also providing a quick action plan for addressing these often shocking facts. Read on to learn how you can make changes with lifelong benefits.

32.6% of men over 20 have been diagnosed with hypertension

Combat high blood pressure with a low-sodium, high-potassium diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fats. Commit 2.5 hours a week to aerobic exercise and keep an eye on your weight—obesity is a serious risk factor when it comes to hypertension. Some studies suggest maintaining a waistline under 40” drastically reduces the risk, so take charge of your weight with at-home monitoring. Avoid tobacco, limit your alcohol intake to two drinks per day, and learn strategies for managing stress. Remember that your doctor can prescribe medications for controlling hypertension, though you shouldn’t rely on them solely. Making appropriate lifestyle changes is the best thing you can do for heart health.

In the span of their lives, 11.6% of men will develop prostate cancer

When caught early, prostate cancer is a relatively easy cancer to treat. Often asymptomatic in its beginning stages, regular screenings are the key to beating the disease. Men over 50 are especially at risk, so if you’re 50 or over and haven’t seen your doctor in the past year, it’s time to make an appointment. At your annual screening, your physician will perform a simple blood test or rectal exam. If you prefer a particular exam option, be sure to tell your doctor. Maintaining an open dialogue with your physician regarding your reproductive and general health is another essential key to early detection.

Testicular Cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in young men

Many of the risk factors associated with testicular cancer are biological rather than lifestyle-related. This means that making changes to your daily routine will do little to lower your risk, so make it a habit to check regularly for signs and symptoms. A simple three-minute home exam done once a month is all it takes. After a shower or bath, when your scrotal skin is relaxed, take turns rolling each testicle between your thumb and your four fingers. Cancer will take the form of a hard, pea-sized lump. Schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately if a lump is detected.

4 out of every 5 US suicides are committed by men

The first step toward suicide prevention in men is understanding what constitutes depression. You don’t necessarily have to feel down or extra sensitive to be diagnosed. In fact, men often report physical symptoms like frequent headaches, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal issues. Irritability, isolation, disturbance in sleep and appetite, loss of interest in daily activities, and a persistent need to avoid one’s emotions are other characteristics that suggest the presence of depression. Because of the stigma associated with mental illness in men, many downplay their symptoms and refuse to seek mental health treatment. According to one survey, only 25% of men with depression attend counseling. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms but can’t quite make the jump to therapy, begin by opening a dialogue with someone you trust, like a spouse or close friend. If you feel ready to begin treatment but don’t know where to begin, talk to your general practitioner for guidance and referrals. Remember: the biggest hurdle to addressing depression in men is simply beginning the discussion.

Nearly 67% of American men are overweight or obese

A significant factor in the American obesity epidemic is the disparity between being overweight and knowing you’re overweight. Many men simply don’t know that their weight puts them at risk for several diseases, so it’s important to know the facts. Your ideal weight is dependent upon a number of complex factors, but a simple way to track your progress is through an online BMI calculator. Try to keep your BMI under 25, check your weight on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, exercise 2.5 hours a week, and eat a balanced diet. Remember that dramatic weight loss plans are not as sustainable as steady lifestyle changes, so take it slow and make a commitment to your long-term health.

Men are half as likely as women to see a doctor for their annual checkup

Statistically, men hate going to the doctor, and that needs to change. Skipping your annual checkup means you miss out on opportunities for life-saving early detection. Take charge of your health by making a commitment to yearly screenings. Remember that you’re a model for other men, and by supporting preventative care you support the well-being of the men around you. If you’re nervous about making an appointment, ask for support. Discuss your worries with someone you trust, ask for physician referrals and recommendations, and continue to educate yourself. Seek all the Men’s Health Month resources you need to empower yourself to take the first step toward a healthier and longer life.