|PHOTO: HEY DAD. GET A CHECK UP
FOR FATHER'S DAY.
Being a Man Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
Dads are irreplaceable. You can turn to him for advice, a hand to hold or help reaching the jar all the way up on the top shelf.
Dad’s the best! But when it comes to health and overall lifespan — men are the losers. Mom will outlive Dad by five years on average. All but one of the top 10 causes of male death claim proportionately more men’s lives than women’s at all ages. Meanwhile, women are twice as likely to see a doctor each year and spend more time discussing their health during those visits.
This Father’s Day, do your dad a favor: encourage him to see a doctor.
Culture is the culprit
Let’s face it: Some men are held hostage by cultural beliefs about projecting masculinity. Most men were taught to hide pain, both physical and emotional. In a recent study, more than half of the men hadn’t had a physical exam in the past year and one in four men said they would wait as long as possible before seeking help if he was concerned about his health. Only 18 percent of men said they would seek medical advice as soon as possible.
But not seeking help for life or health issues can lead to chronic disease and death. Of the top 10 killers of men, many, such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and liver disease and cirrhosis are preventable. For those predisposed, seeing a doctor early can often help avoid these problems entirely, but men often wait too long before talking to their doctors about symptoms.
“Many conditions might not hurt or show symptoms until an advanced stage,” says Dr. Doug Tran, primary care physician with Edward Medical Group. “Some may not have any warning signs at all. But regular checkups and screenings can detect symptoms far earlier than anyone else can,” Tran says.
Get it checked, or just get a checkup
Avoiding bad news won’t make it go away. Ignoring a pain or bump just does more harm. Remind Dad – and all the men in your life – that the slight discomfort of a preventative screening is nothing compared to the pain of a disease like colorectal or prostate cancer, Dr. Tran says.
Especially if you’re under 50, you can prevent and deter major health problems with routine care such as regular physical exams and blood-pressure readings, a cholesterol check every five years, and routine skin and testicular cancer screenings.
Starting at age 40, get a routine electrocardiogram. In your 50s, add a colonoscopy, antigen screen and digital rectal exam for prostate cancer. Talk with your doctor about the screenings that are right for you.
Seeing a doctor is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re sensible. In fact, that’s something else we can learn from male doctors, who seem to buck the trends of the men they care for. Male physicians are less likely than other men to die of liver disease, and outlive other males by about three years.
Whether it’s that nagging pain or numbness you’ve been ignoring, or regular exams or tests you haven’t had for years, see your physician and tell him what’s on your mind. It could add years to your life.
Sources: CDC.gov, AJPH.org, CommonWealthFund.org