Dr. Valerie Scott’s Advice for Men’s Health Month (and our ongoing celebration of all things Dad)
In light of Father’s Day and National Men’s Health Month, let’s talk a bit about our guys and keeping them healthy.
The basics for a healthy life style are not gender specific. Men and women both should:
- Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol intake
- Exercise!! Ideally with two and a half hours of moderately intense exercise a week
- Keep your BMI between 18 and 25
- Have blood pressure evaluated every two years with a goal of less than 140/90 for those younger than 65
- Eat a healthy diet based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats and fish.
- Make sure immunizations are up to date.
The leading cause for death for Americans is heart disease. For men, prevention should start at an early age by monitoring risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Lifestyle choices (all the bullet points above) play a huge part in the development of heart disease, so take note!
Cancer is responsible for 24 percent of deaths in men, with lung cancer causing 58 deaths per 100,000 men. Fortunately, lung cancer has a much higher cure rate if diagnosed early, and we now have a test to find early tumors. The low dose chest CT has been approved for screening for lung cancers. If you smoke or have smoked in the past, I recommend you discuss this screening test with your healthcare provider. And if you are still smoking, this is the time to stop for good!
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. We do not have the perfect answer for screening for this cancer, so I encourage men to discuss your risks for prostate cancer with your healthcare provider and decide together what is best for you.
Colorectal cancer is responsible for 18 deaths per 100,000 men. Routine screening colonoscopies, starting at age 50 for the average man, are our best defense here. Many of my patients decline this test because they have no symptoms, but they don’t understand that this test is designed to find polyps before they become cancers and be removed proactively. Amazing!
Unintentional injury is also a common cause of death, and one that seems unique to men. Men make up around 55 percent of the work force, and 92 percent of all workplace deaths occur in men. Car accidents and homicides also cause more deaths in men than women. So make sure dad wears his seatbelt and does not drink and drive!
For all the men out there, please go ahead and make that doctor’s appointment for screenings to improve your health. Go ahead and take the step to quit smoking and cut back on the alcohol. Try a new vegetable or get out and take a walk. And don’t forget to buckle up! Let’s all start a conversation about violence and work towards a safer world for everyone. For more information, go to http://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw.
By Dr. Valerie Scott, who is the Roper St. Francis wellness ambassador physician champion. Dr. Scott is board certified in family medicine and practices at Mt. Pleasant Family Practice.