As a species, men are great at some things, terrible at others. One of our biggest failures is ignoring our health, from poor nutrition to forgetting sunblock to avoiding doctors like the plague (Heck, even if we have the plague, we’ll still wait a few days).
To make matters worse, men are not only avoiding the doctor, but they also aren’t doing a stand-up job of self-care either—more than 60% qualify as overweight or obese, according to the National Institutes of Health.
In this blog, we’ll share some key facts about our risks of heart disease, cancer, mental health issues, and poor skincare. One theme stands out—We’re bad at preventing health issues and at seeking treatment for them. So here are a few Essential factoids about men’s health that Professor Fuzzworthy hopes will serve as a wakeup call.
- Women are 100% more likely than men to visit the doctor for both annual checkups and preventative services and
- 40+ % of men only visit the doctor when they think they have a serious medical condition.
- Lack of preventative care means men die on average almost 5 years earlier than women
- Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol and smoke. About 20% of men will develop “alcohol dependency” during their lives.
Higher Risk for Cancer
While men are avoiding checkups, if anything they should be seeking more preventative care than women, based on gender-based health risks, including cancer. A few cancer statistics:
- 1 in 2 men are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime compared with 1 in 3 women.
Plus, More than 700,000 men are diagnosed with cancer each year and more than 40% of those will die from it.
- A large percentage of men are overweight and obese. High body fat2 – which has a range of negative side effects (both health and aesthetic)—increases their likelihood of developing “aggressive prostate cancer.”
- Smokers—Mega dosing on vitamins won’t help you. Men who smoke AND take largedoses of vitamin B6 and B12 are at least three times more likely to develop lung cancer than other male smokers.
Broken Hearts Club
Heart disease – including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and heart attack -- is the leading cause of death among U.S. men. A few scary facts about heart disease:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, 450,000 men die of cardiovascular disease every year, accounting for about…
- 1 in 4 of male deaths!!
- It often starts early. A third of men 20 and older have high blood pressure.
- Heart Disease is the proverbial “silent killer, with 50% of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease showing no previous symptoms, according to the CDC’s website.
Our “Do Nothing” Response to Mental Health Issues
While men like to pretend they can handle problems on their own--without counseling, medication, or even talking to friends and family—it’s not working. Men resist seeking treatment for depression and other mental health issues as much as they avoid medical checkups. Even after a diagnosis, many refuse to take medication.
Ignoring the situation isn’t making it better. A few disturbing mental health statistics:
- 6 million U.S. males a year are affected by depression.
- Only 25% of men with depression get counseling
- Eating disorders—they’re not just for girls. About 35% 3 of binge eaters are men.
- Men account for 80% of suicides.
Men (Especially White Men) are Melanoma Magnets
The American Dermatological Association makes its point with a hard-hitting headline: “Melanoma Strikes Men Harder.”4 And men often bring it on themselves by refusing to use sunblock, wear hats, or visit the dermatologist. A few facts:
- Men are more likely to die of melanoma than women.
- White adolescent males and young adult men are about twice as likely to die of melanoma as are white females of the same age.
- By age 65, men are twice as likely as women to get melanoma.
So, this month, Professor Fuzzworthy urges men of all ages to stop ignoring their health. Get some exercise, cut back on fatty foods (and eat more vegetables while you’re at it), schedule a checkup/bloodwork, and seek counseling and medication if you’re depressed or coping with other mental health disorders.
Finally, men need skincare as much as (or more than) women. So remember to wear a hat and use sunblock with an SPF of 30 or more, get your partner or a good friend to help with a skincare exam, and visit the dermatologist for a full exam by a professional. And if you’re not sure how to conduct a skin exam, the American Academy of Dermatology offers a great tutorial.
1President Clinton declared June Men’s Health Month in 1994.
2 “Body fat may predict aggressive prostate cancer,” Harvard Health Publishing/Harvard Medical School. September 2019.
3 “Infographic: Mental Health for Men,” Mental Health America Website.
4 “Melanoma Strikes Men Harder,” The American Dermatological Association Website.