Caution: Risk-Taking May Be Hazardous to Your Health
When it comes to risk-taking — doing something that can be harmful or dangerous — men clearly outdo women. That risky behavior has put men way behind women when it comes to their health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states U.S. men, on average, die five years younger than women. Their three primary causes of death? Heart-related diseases, cancer and unintentional injury — all often associated with risk.
As part of an effort to encourage men to take control of their health and for families to teach their children healthy habits at an early age, June has been designated as Men’s Health Month. The attention to men’s health and encouragement for men to live a healthier life may hopefully lead to longer and healthier lifespans for men.
Denial a Risky Tendency
Men need to pay more attention to their health because by comparison, men’s risk-taking tendencies make them more likely to smoke, drink and make poor decisions. One of the poor decisions falls under the category of delaying routine medical check-ups.
Historically, men have had difficulty with facing health problems, particularly when it comes to diabetes, depression or sexual dysfunction. But times have changed, and men should too. Instead of denying a health problem exists, it’s time to face it and get the facts. The best source of information is a healthcare provider. Maintaining an active relationship is the first step to taking control of one’s health.
There are health problems that only affect men, such as prostate cancer and low levels of testosterone. Diagnostic tests can detect diseases at an early stage when they are easier to treat. The longer a person waits, the harder it is to treat an illness. Many of the primary risks men face, such as colon cancer or cardiac disease, can be prevented and treated with a timely diagnosis.
If you are a man, make sure to schedule consultations with your doctor regularly. Don’t wait for symptoms to show. Your physician is your best ally when it comes to maintaining your health and preventing illness. Follow the recommendations and treatments given by your doctor if you have health problems, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. Also, ask your doctor about preventative measures such as cancer detection tests, vaccines or other medical evaluations.
One of the reason women live longer than men is because they have healthier habits. Mayo Clinic’s website lists the following suggestions:
- Don’t smoke. Your doctor can help you quit smoking.
- Eat sensibly. Consume vegetables, fruits, grain cereals, and foods with lots of fiber and protein sources without fat, such as fish. Limit foods that contain saturated or trans fats, sugar and sodium.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Losing excess weight and keeping it off reduces the risk of heart disease and various types of cancer.
- Stay active. Exercise can help control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Any physical activity is good; choose enjoyable ones.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Practice moderation. Excess alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and certain cancers. Consume no more than two drinks a day if under 65; one drink if older. (One drink is 12 fluid ounces (355 mL) of beer, 5 fluid ounces (148 mL) of wine or 1.5 fluid ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof liquor.)
- Control stress. Feeling nervous or pressured can negatively affect the immune system and relationships. Learn healthy ways to reduce and manage stress.
Bumps In the Road
When it comes to mental health, everybody hits a bump in the road now and again, and the road has gotten pretty bumpy for everyone lately. Mental health should not be ignored because it’s an important aspect of a person’s well-being. Consulting with a behavioral specialist is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it’s a sign of strength to want to overcome challenges.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of depression such as sadness, helplessness or loss of interest in normal activities should consult their primary doctor. Avoiding help can lead to more problems, including suicide. Men have higher suicide rates than women, and one of the primary causes is depression. There are medical treatments for depression, and there’s nothing wrong in asking for help.
Why Risk It?
Whether you are a man or woman, do something healthy this month. Consider making lifestyle changes. Maybe change your diet. Make an appointment with your provider if it’s time for a check-up or if you need a vaccine. Don’t avoid doing what’s good for you and your good health. Why take the risk?
If you are contemplating the possibility of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency room.
Published in Prensa Arizona, 6/10/2021