• With June being Men’s Health Month, this week is Men’s Health Week, and Father’s Day around the corner I am focusing on men’s health in today’s #wellness blog post.

    In my practice and in my years of experience women are the majority of my clientele. I would estimate that women make up 80 – 90% of my patients. In general, women will take charge of their health, and men not so much. That isn’t a judgment, but more of what that stats show.

    Of course, there are always the outliers – the women who neglect their health and men who take charge by getting regular physical and health screenings done. But the trends say the opposite is true in the real world.

    In the U.S., men die on average five years younger than women and at higher rates of the leading causes of death.

    We’re all going to die – but why go earlier than necessary?

    Now when it comes to many of the screenings in preventive health and overall wellness, a lot of times people will “argue” that they don’t have a family history of certain diseases, so they don’t need to worry or get checked. For example, if no one in the family has a history of breast cancer, prostate cancer or colon cancer then why go through the screenings/tests?

    Unfortunately, despite what most people think, family history is a small part of the overall equation. Lifestyle factors play a much bigger part than family history in those cases.

    And, I can’t even count how many times I have heard people complain upon diagnosis that they don’t have any family history. (For example, less than 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have any family history of breast cancer; with prostate cancer, it is estimated that 5 – 10% of people diagnosed have a hereditary risk.) So, stop depending on family history for overall risk and get screened. Better yet, get a physical to assess overall health.

    Now don’t misunderstand this: I am not saying to ignore family history. Know it and share it with your health care provider. They are then are better equipped to assess your risk in combination with your family history.

    What family history should you know?

    Do you have a first-degree relative (mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son) who has been diagnosed with and/or died from diabetes (what type), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and/or cancer (what type)? If you don’t know, do your best to find out. You may also be asked about family history of depression or mental illness.

    What can men do for their health?

    First, adopt a healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t in college anymore then quit eating and drinking like a college student.  

    You can’t out-exercise a poor diet. So just because you workout, you still need to eat well.
    • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Can you get too much? Try to find out and let me know how that ends up.
    • Get plenty of fluid – water is good. But don’t overdo it.
    • Limit intake of added salt, added sugar, added saturated fat, and alcohol.
    • Get regular physical activity and exercise – both strength training and aerobic/cardiovascular activity.
    • For Pete’s sake – don’t smoke or quit. As if you need to be told this?

    Get a physical, especially if you haven’t had one in a while, or ever. That will include things like getting your height, weight, blood pressure and pulse measured along with checking your reflexes, heart, lungs, eyes, ears, sinuses, throat, and more. You will be asked about the aforementioned family history. You may need to get some vaccines updated. And you may get some labs done – blood work and/or urinalysis.

    Call and schedule the appointment today.

    Depending on your age and other risk factors, you may need some cancer screenings such as for testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Get that skin cancer screening while you are at it. Some of these may require a separate appointment or specialist. The earlier cancers are “caught” the better the outcomes and often less invasive the treatment. For example, my brother, diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 39, got the screening, testing, and additional surgery done and had no need for further treatment. The diagnosis for his melanoma was Stage ZERO – a stage we didn’t even know was a thing – and really a best-case scenario if one does get a cancer diagnosis.

    Also depending on your age, various blood work may be ordered such as liver function tests, thyroid levels, and vitamin D status. Some of the standards in blood tests include a glucose and/or hemoglobin A1C and cholesterol. Also, double check if the blood tests need to be done while fasting – meaning nothing to eat or drink, except water for 10-12 hours prior to the test/blood draw.

    Do you take care of your car better than your own body?

    Make a vow to stop putting off the physical because of fear of having a prostate exam or a dreaded colonoscopy (which everyone says isn’t so bad, it’s the prep that sucks).

    And stop taking better care of your car or your yard than you are taking care of yourself. That’s just silly.

    To learn more about how to prepare and what to ask your health care provider at the exam check here.