Be a Healthy Man
Keep Your Warranty Up-To-Date
Checklist Predicts if You'll Be Alive in 10 Years
Men are Killing Themselves
Hey, Superman, You Won't be Invincible Forever
15 Major Causes of Death
Top 10 Health Risks
Five Ailments that Affect Young Men
Mens Endangered Health: Some Statistics
Men "Unwilling" to Discuss Cancer
Everyday Ailments That Could Be Caused by Cancer
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Risk Behaviors of Men
Question: What is the first warning sign of a heart attack?
Men Die Young - Even if Old
Screenings for Men
Workplace safety: It's a guy thing
United States Men's Health Statistics
Suicide, Suicide & Firearms, Suicide Prevention and Euthanasia
Violence, Teen Violence, TV Violence
The Standard Checkup? Well, Not Exactly
Work-Related Aviation Fatalities
Youth Not Young at Heart
Adolescent Depression And High Receptivity To Tobacco Ads May Lead To Teen Smoking
Additional Issues: Suicide, Prostate Cancer (Men 40+), Testicular Cancer (Men 15-34)
Books: Death & Dying, Depression, Grief, Stress, Suicide, Transition
Resources: Euthanasia, Suicide
For years I've asked men if they knew the
first warning sign of a heart attack. Virtually no one can answer the
question correctly. It isn't severe chest pain, loss of mobility on
one side of the body, etc., etc. The first sign is "Death". Add it
up. More people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year than from
breast cancer, prostate cancer, AIDS, handguns, house fires, and
traffic accidents combined. Don't wait for "symptoms." Change
your health habits now before the first warning sign hits!
Checklist Predicts if You'll Be Alive in 10 Years
Researchers hope the findings, reported in the March 6 Journal of the American Medical Association, will help older adults and their doctors come to better decisions on health care.
There currently are national guidelines on medical procedures like colon cancer screening and mammography screening for breast cancer -- but they give general guidance, not individual.
The checklist could help better tailor advice to older patients, said lead researcher Dr. Marisa Cruz.
"It's meant to be used in a clinical context, to help doctors and older patients discuss screening and other interventions," said Cruz, a clinical fellow at the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Guidelines on cancer screening tests and other interventions vary, but they are based on averages. And some guidelines suggest age cutoffs for screening, because there's a lack of evidence that the tests benefit the average person past a certain age.
Colon cancer screening is one example. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel that advises the federal government, says that for most people, colon cancer screening should begin at age 50 and continue only until age 75. Other groups, including the American Cancer Society, do not give an upper age limit, but say doctors should consider an older patient's overall health and life expectancy. For an elderly person in poor health, an aggressive treatment or even a screening test could do more harm than good.
On the other hand, a 75-year-old in good health could live many more years, and may benefit from cancer screenings or aggressive treatments, such as tight blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
Cruz said the checklist used in the new study aims to help older adults get the tests or treatments that might benefit them, and avoid potentially harmful ones.
What it does not do, Cruz said, is give any one person a "cut-and-dried prediction" of what will happen in the next 10 years.
The researchers created the checklist based on data from a national study of nearly 20,000 U.S. adults older than 50. They found that 12 factors, considered together, can give an idea of an older adult's risk of dying within 10 years.
Those include age, sex, weight, smoking and whether a person has diabetes, lung disease, heart disease or physical limitations such as difficulty walking a few blocks or moving large objects.
Doctors can get that information using yes-or-no questions, and then assign points for each answer, Cruz said. If you're between 60 and 64 years old, for example, you get one point; if you're 65 to 69 years old, you get two points.
People with a total score of one have, on average, a 5 percent chance of dying in the next 10 years. A score of five translates to a 23 percent chance of dying within a decade, while a score of 10 corresponds to a 70 percent risk.
None of that is set in stone, Cruz said, but the scoring system breaks people into "rough categories" of risk.
Having an idea of an older patient's life expectancy is important because some medical interventions "take a long time to pay off," said Dr. James Pacala, president of the American Geriatrics Society.
"Most cancer screenings, for example, take five to 10 years to pay off," Pacala said. For an older person unlikely to live that long, the risks of screening -- such as false-positive results, needless invasive tests and anxiety -- are likely to outweigh any benefit.
"If you care for older patients, this is something you always have running in the back of your mind," Pacala said. "What is the rest of this patient's life likely to look like?"
Right now, he said, doctors can get an idea by looking up average life expectancy for a patient based on age and sex, and then considering that person's overall health. The checklist in this study, Pacala said, offers a more "formal" way to do that.
"This provides us with evidence-based numbers," he said.
Pacala stressed, however, that decisions on whether to screen for or treat a disease should not be based solely on a number. He said longevity estimates should be used to facilitate discussions between doctors and patients.
A doctor not involved in the study agreed.
"There is absolutely a need for better tools for understanding life expectancy," said Dr. Ethan Basch, an oncologist and director of the cancer outcomes research program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in Chapel Hill.
But no life-expectancy calculator -- or any single guideline -- is enough, Basch said. "This is one piece of information to help an older patient make an informed, rational decision," he said.
Basch chaired the American Society of Clinical Oncology committee that recently developed the group's guideline on PSA screening for prostate cancer. The society suggests that doctors discuss PSA screening with men who are expected to live for more than 10 years.
PSA screening is controversial because prostate cancer is often slow-growing and will never threaten a man's life. Even if screening catches a prostate tumor, many men may be treated unnecessarily. (Editor's note: This in confusing, especially the word "never" since over 30,000 men die because of prostate cancer EVERY year.)
For a man expected to live fewer than 10 years, the ASCO says the potential harms of PSA screening seem to outweigh the benefits. For men with a longer life expectancy, the group says things are not so clear-cut, and having a conversation with your doctor might be worthwhile.
Learn more about screening tests from the U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force.
Hey, Superman, You Won't be Invincible
A strange thing happened the other day. I was in the garage working on a project, twisting a screwdriver, when a realization hit: My hands look like my dad's. The fine wrinkles, a few "sunspots," slight cracking of skin around the knuckles, a banged-up thumbnail. For the first time it struck me that I am not 21 -- I am 39.
If I am to enjoy good health, I can no longer rely on youth. I'll have to work at it.
Lots of men just don't pay attention to their health. In fact, research suggests that macho attitudes and an aversion to seeking medical attention contribute to a widening gender gap in life expectancy. Did you know that in 1920 women lived, on average, just one year longer than men, but by 2000 they had a six-year lead?
Understanding male behavior toward health and health care is the first step in improving our long-term outlook. Appreciating our natural tendencies can help us change those that are unproductive. Learning to partner with a physician for medical checkups lays a foundation from which we can direct our specific care. Finally, knowing what lifestyles are healthful and which are detrimental gives us power to control our own health destiny! (Now, if that isn't macho, I don't know what is.)
All you guys out there, think about it: As a boy, how many of you wanted to be Clark Kent? Always meek, mild-mannered, polite, somewhat awkward in his interactions with those around him ... you get the idea. Nah, we all wanted to be Superman!
Self-assured, helping others while not needing help, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive,saving the world from annihilation --all the little things that make life worth living.
That basically defines the male psyche.While some of it is certainly due to the way we were raised ("big boys don't cry," "take it like a man"), another part is the way we are made. It is called testosterone.
For us, life is about competition. Whether it is competing in sports as a child, in love as an adolescent or in business as an adult, our nature is to strive for success, even at the expense of other things.
While a drive toward healthy competition is a good thing, being blinded by an exaggerated sense of self-reliance is not. Such an attitude not only keeps us from getting appropriate medical attention, but also makes us neglect our bodies and engage in risky behaviors. In fact, the leading causes of death for men under age 40 continue to be road accidents and homicide.
This doesn't mean we need to sacrifice our masculinity to preserve our health. It does mean we need to recognize those patterns of behavior that lead to what I call "false masculinity."
Attitudes leading to destructive behaviors, emotional isolation and neglect of basic health needs are not what being male is all about. In his book How Men Can Live as Long as Women, Ken Goldberg, a physician, author and national authority on men's health issues, comments about this struggle: "A man can be a partner, and that involves ... sharing obligations, concerns and emotions; being there to listen and support; being honest and responsible; and taking pleasure in his partner's pleasure. A man can be a father, and that involves much more than providing food and shelter. He can be a role model and set new standards for our culture. He can be compassionate and concerned, and he can educate. And finally, a man can be a fellow man, and that involves much more than teasing and taunting each other ... in a locker room. It means extending a hand to those who need help; talking honestly to one another and sharing feelings; and learning to cooperate rather than compete."
Team Up with a Doctor
Let's face facts. Men are much less likely to seek medical care than women, and that includes getting regular checkups and preventive screens. It is time to take the bull by the horns and find a physician who can provide necessary checkpoints on your road to wellness.
Appropriate health screens can result in earlier detection of disease, which in turn can raise survival rates. Treatments also tend to be less invasive, less expensive and less troublesome when illness is found early.
I know, I know: "Getting a physical" is the last thing on most men's "To Do" lists. But simple things make a big difference. Cholesterol assessments, blood pressure checks, diabetes screens, prostate cancer blood tests and exams, colon cancer screens and cardiovascular screens all make a difference! These assessments can be made only by your doctor, so it's imperative to get over the angst of a checkup.
An old saying goes "Christopher Columbus never stopped to ask for directions, so why should I?" When it comes to preventive checkups, the road map is at the doctor's office. There's simply no way around this.
Guys, here's a good analogy to remember: Your own preventive checkups are like automobile checkups. While most of us are responsible for, even proud of, how we maintain our vehicles, we don't feel the same sense of accomplishment with our own bodies.
Does getting a tuneup of the car engine guarantee it won't fail?
Absolutely not. But it does significantly reduce the risk.
The same thing goes for preventive medical checkups. Do they guarantee nothing bad will happen to you? No, but by understanding the statistical risks people face, and by evaluating and addressing those risks, you improve your odds.
Taking care of your car means regular tuneups. Taking care of your health means regular checkups.
When I was in college, my grandfather gave me his old 1953 Chevrolet pickup truck. He also gave me great advice: "Now, Tedd, remember one thing. It won't hurt this engine to run it without gas, but it will ruin it if you run it without oil!" He was making the point that maintenance is important for something that means a lot to you. (Yes, I still have the pickup.)
Work Toward Winning Habits
Healthful behavior not only statistically improves the quantity of your life, but more important, it also improves the quality of your life. What you eat and drink, what drugs you use, whether you exercise and how you handle stress/aggression all are under your control. In each area, help is available for those who have lost control. For those who can develop winning habits on their own, the course is clear.
Nutrition. You really are what you eat (and drink). Back to the car analogy: It certainly doesn't make sense to pour crude oil into a high-performance Indy car and expect it to function properly. Likewise, nutrition based on beer nuts, potato chips and brewskis doesn't give your engine the fuel it needs for effective performance. Intense, hard-core, extremely restrictive dietary programs are unnecessary and rarely successful. But a sound nutritional program that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat proteins and limits sweets, high-fat foods and alcohol is workable and has clearly been shown to improve long-term health.
Alcohol. Moderation is the key. Data from large national research projects, including the Harvard Physicians Health Study, suggest that one drink a day is generally healthful. (A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.) Our own data here at the Cooper Aerobics Center suggest the same. Alcohol is a funny thing: A little might help; a little bit more might harm. For that reason, I don't recommend that teetotalers start drinking for a subtle health benefit. People who do drink should average no more than one drink a day.
Tobacco. The habit starts at a young age and, by the time men are in their 30s and 40s, it's extremely difficult to break. Of course, the easiest way to "break" the habit is never to begin. For fathers talking to their sons, few messages are more important. If you already smoke, a myriad of remedies, over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and programs are available to help you quit. Unlike alcohol, where a little bit benefits health, the same cannot be said of cigarette smoking. No amount is healthful, and working toward quitting is the only rational approach.
Recreational drugs. Those of us who grew up in the '60s and '70s were surrounded by a culture that promoted experimentation. Only now can we appreciate the fallout of such an attitude. Drugs have become a pervasive and destructive part of society and, while good people can debate potential solutions, the bottom line is that drugs are a national problem. Casual users' financial support of the industry keeps propagating the problem.
Exercise. Just as you have to occasionally "blow out the carburetor" on your car, you need to regularly take your own body out for a spin. Aerobic exercise performed a minimum of three days a week, coupled with light strength training and a flexibility program, is a great way to keep the system lubricated, the pistons firing and the performance up.
Remember, consistency is the key to a successful exercise program. You are far better off following a regular routine of moderate activity than knocking yourself out sporadically. If you haven't been exercising, it's important to first visit your physician to get clearance. Then it can help to get a qualified personal trainer to develop a routine for you. Avoid the urge to embark on an intense exercise plan. Remember, you are not trying to become the next Michael Jordan; you are trying to follow a program that gives you energy, enhances your quality of life and reduces your long-term risk.
Stress and aggression. When I take a patient's medical history, I ask about things such as wearing seat belts, getting speeding tickets and allowing anger to affect driving. On the surface, these seem to be silly questions, but they often precipitate important discussions.
Guys, the statistics are against us on this one. We, more than women, exhibit these risky behaviors. Again, chalk it up to testosterone. Understanding that we tend to react more aggressively when provoked (whether in a bar or a car) is the first step in modifying such behavior.
If you have trouble controlling this part of your personality, help is available. It's always easy to say and difficult to do, but gaining insight into risky behaviors improves not just your statistical chances of longevity, but the quality of your life and the lives of the people around you. Talk to your doctor.
Well, guys, there you have it. While it is wonderful to be a man and to celebrate the differences between boys and girls, it is just as important to understand that certain attitudes and behaviors work directly against our long-term health.
Understanding how to adjust those attitudes revs us up and gets us going. Developing winning habits keeps us racing around the track. And having a doctor who can provide us with the necessary pit stops along the way keeps us headed in the right direction.
Go ahead -- critique your own attitudes. Work on your own behaviors. See the doctor.
And, hey, John Wayne would be proud of you.
Source: Ted Mitchell, MD, USA Weekend
Men "Unwilling" to Discuss Cancer
Risk Behaviors of Men
Leading Cause of Death (overall): Heart Disease (1997)
Leading Cause of Death (25-44 Year Olds): Accidents and adverse effects (1998)
Number of Deaths From Prostate Cancer: 32,203 (1998) Source: National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48, No. 11
Most Common Chronic Condition: Chronic Sinusitis (1996)
Most Common Acute Condition: Influenza (1996) Source: Vital and Health Statistics Series 10, No. 200
Number of Annual Office Visits to Physicians (all ages): 329 million (1998) Source: Advance Data 315
Number of Annual Hospital Outpatient Department Visits: 30 million (1998) Source: Advance Data 317
Number of Annual Emergency Department Visits: 48 million (1998) Source: Advance Data 313
Number of Hospital Discharges (Inpatients): 12.5 million (1998)
Number of Surgical Procedures Performed Annually: 16 million (1998) Source: Advance Data 316
Source: National Center for Health Statistics
In total, more than 14,000 Americans die from falls annually and another 14,000 from poisoning, 6,000 drown, 2,00 die of gunshot wounds in hunting or other gun-related accidents, and fire and smoke inhalation alone account for 4,000 lives and another 4,000 suffocate by inhalation or ingestion. Soource: National Safety Council, "Accident Facts"
Men Die Young - Even if Old
A new study across 20 countries reveals for the first time just how much bigger the risk of premature death is for men than women, whatever their age.
In the US in 1998, for example, men up to the age of 50 were on average twice as likely as women to keel over, and the risk remained greater even for those men who had made it to their eighties and beyond. Less surprisingly, the discrepancy in death rates between men and women was most extreme between the ages of 20 and 24, when three times as many men die as women.
"Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death," says Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Heart disease to homicide
Nesse says that the finding has important implications for public health. "If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer," he says.
Nesse's colleague Daniel Kruger estimates that over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the US if men's risk of dying was as low as women's.
The US data is backed by death rates in countries including Ireland, Australia, Russia, Singapore and El Salvador. Nesse and Kruger found that everywhere they looked, it is more perilous to be male. In Colombia for example, men in their early twenties are five times as likely to die as women of the same age. Even more surprisingly, the pattern holds for every major cause of death, from car crashes to heart disease to homicide.
For external causes of death, such as accidents, the difference between the sexes is greatest for young adults. But the second largest disparity between men and women in the US occurs when they reach their sixties. At that point in their life, men are 1.68 times as likely to die as women, mainly due to disease.
The gender gap has widened dramatically in recent years, but it has been on the rise since the 1940s, at least in the US, France, Japan and Sweden, where historical figures are available. The researchers suggest a number of factors that could be to blame for the trend.
Population growth and globetrotting have led to a rise in infectious diseases. And improvements in public health and medicine may have benefited women more than men: for instance, far fewer women now die at a relatively young age during childbirth. Technological advances may have played a part, too, by supplying men with more powerful guns and ever faster cars.
Nesse and Kruger say that sexual selection could also partly explain some of the differences. Men generally invest less in their children than women do, and as a result may compete more vigorously with each other for potential mate.
This rivalry could be what drives them to take greater risks, with
the result that men have evolved greater reproductive success at the
expense of longevity. The same may be true for chimpanzees and even
fruit flies, says Nesse.
Source: Betsy Mason, www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992586
Workplace safety: It's a guy
In addition to going to their graves far too early, these victims all had something else in common: Every one of them was male. Indeed, 96% of the approximately 760 of people killed on the job in Canada each year are men. Workplace safety is, overwhelmingly, a men's issue because our most dangerous jobs continue to be performed primarily by one half of the population.
But our society apparently believes gender is important only if the numbers show women being victimized disproportionately. Otherwise, gender breakdowns hardly seem worth mentioning -- and certainly not worth dwelling on.
Last Friday, organizations across the country observed the annual Day of Mourning for those killed or injured on the job. At emotional ceremonies, ordinary people took a few moments to remember workers killed in accidents both large and small -- in mines, in the pulp and paper industry, on oil rigs and on farms.
But even though about 10 times as many people die in industrial accidents each year as are killed by domestic violence, the day attracted scant media attention (according to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 70 spouses killed their wives or husbands in 1998).
Many news outlets -- including the National Post -- ignored it altogether. Moreover, not one of 10 articles that did appear in Canadian newspapers breathed a word about gender.
Such indifference is no isolated event. While researching workplace fatalities a few years ago, I combed through more than 60 pages of a Statistics Canada publication devoted to workplace injuries searching for a gender breakdown of work-related deaths.
Published in late 1994, this book lists the number of fatalities by industry and province only. (Non-fatal injury data does include a gender breakdown -- indicating roughly three out of four workplace injuries were experienced by men in 1991-1993).
Nowhere, in either the extensive graphs or text, does this publication -- produced by an office known for examining every imaginable activity, including housework, from a gender perspective -- mention how many of the dead were male. The 96% figure was tracked down through a series of telephone calls.
(In the United States, by contrast, a 1993 document published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health declares that the fatality rate for males is "12 times higher than for females" and that "males accounted for 94% of the fatal occupational injuries reported.")
Yesterday, after placing fresh calls to Statistics Canada (which stopped publishing occupational injury and death data altogether in 1995), I was advised to contact the Association of Worker Compensation Boards of Canada, based in Mississauga, Ont.
While that organization has the total number of workplace fatalities for the past five years at its fingertips, and sells a book that classifies non-fatal workplace injuries according to body part, province, age, industry and occupation, it too is bizarrely uninterested in breaking down workplace fatalities according to gender. Such data, I was told, aren't readily available.
In order to gain access to these numbers I'd have to fill out a form on the organization's Web site, agree to pay a $60-per-hour search fee, and wait -- the person who conducts the searches wasn't in yesterday.
Since someone else had already gone through this process for occupational deaths in the 15-24 age category, the organization was able to tell me that 54 young men versus three young women lost their lives on the job in 1998.
Having been trained, via an undergraduate degree in women's studies, to believe that looking at issues according to how they affect men and women differently can help one understand the world better, I certainly wasn't warned that data documenting men's distadvantages would be difficult to access.
But for all our certainty -- within the media and beyond -- that it's women who are hard done by, an unending stream of stories about the challenges that middle-class women encounter in the workplace continue to get written.
Working-class men, on the other hand, are literally dying for a
living -- while few people even notice.
Source: By Donna Laframboise