Every June is a month-long celebration of men’s health. The purpose is to bring awareness of and encourage men to live a healthy lifestyle, a message I strongly endorse. In addition, anytime we can help men prevent health problems before they begin is a worthwhile goal our nation should prioritize.
As a men’s health expert, urologic oncologist, and prostate cancer surgeon, I want men to know that they deserve excellent healthcare and to seek it out. But don’t wait to seek healthcare only when you’re sick. Instead, be proactive by scheduling annual physicals, staying up-to-date on vaccines, doing routine health screenings, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits. The more you invest in your health, the better rate of return of preventing disease, reducing healthcare costs, and spending more time with loved ones. Besides, poor health is not living your best life.
In reality, men continue to face many daunting health challenges. These challenges can be major disruptors of men’s ability to reach health goals.
Four major health challenges men face
- Men avoid seeing doctors
Men tend to put their health last, which is concerning to me. I know plenty of patients who have neglected their health for a long time. By the time they seek medical help for a health condition, it may be too far advanced to treat successfully.
Part of the problem of men avoiding regular healthcare is they view it as showing weakness, making them feel out of control. In 2019, the Cleveland Clinic did a survey that came to this same conclusion. Instead of seeing a doctor, 72% of men would rather do household chores, 65% would rather self-diagnose, 20% admitted withholding health information, and 36% don’t like being told to eat healthier or make lifestyle changes. Even worse, 37% of men may not tell the truth about concerning health symptoms to avoid facing a scary diagnosis. So, I’m here to say, men, ignoring health problems will not make them go away.
That’s why I rely on women to encourage men to see their doctor and take better care of themselves. Women are their families’ best advocates for health and medical decisions. It’s the small but powerful tactics that matter, such as starting a conversation about their health and assisting their man in preparing to see a doctor.
1. Men’s struggle with mental health
Men often suffer in silence with their mental health, keeping tight-lipped about their feelings or what’s bothering them. The rate of depression and all mental health problems among men is now being called the “silent crisis.” The National Institute of Mental Health estimates each year, an alarming six million American men suffer from depression. Women’s risk for depression is higher than men’s, but men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. It’s hard for men to admit they feel depressed and need help.
Depression often goes unnoticed in men. Since men rarely admit they struggle, they may cope by making unhealthy choices. They turn to alcohol, drugs, or other risky behavior that can lead to devastating consequences.
So, learn the signs of depression in men. Then, talk to them about your concern, suggest seeking help from a mental health professional, and offer to set up an appointment and go with them. Showing care and concern is a first step toward improving their mental outlook.
2. Prostate cancer affects one in eight men
The American Cancer Society estimates the 2022 prostate cancer stats as follows: Prostate cancer is expected to be still the second leading cause of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. This year alone, almost 270,000 men will be diagnosed with this disease.
The good news is I’m happy to say the outlook for prostate cancer has never been better. Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a remarkable 98 percent survival rate thanks to early detection, improved treatments, and new medications. Basically, you have a greater risk of dying from another cause besides prostate cancer.
But, here’s the deal and what I say to all men; your survival rate for prostate cancer will significantly improve if you know the signs and symptoms, your family history of this disease, and are screened yearly beginning at age 40. It’s called preventative care and very likely will save your life.
3. Men make less healthy lifestyle choices
The optimal time for practicing good health habits is early in life. This sets a lifelong foundation for improving a man’s risk of avoiding chronic health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. But, for some reason, men often ignore this message. As a result, unhealthy lifestyle habits such as poor food choices, lack of exercise, too many late nights, too many alcoholic beverages, smoking, or illegal drug use, put a man’s health at risk.
The reality is men live shorter lives than women. If you haven’t noticed, the longevity gender gap between older men and women is eye-opening – walk into any nursing home or assisted living facility in the U.S., and the women easily outnumber the men. Therefore, it’s essential to continue shining a spotlight on men’s health to close this gap. Keep encouraging men to live healthier lives, one day at a time. Have conversations about their health and well-being. Help men to monitor and take control of their health.
Once we convince men to consistently make healthy lifestyle choices, it’s time to celebrate. And this is what June’s Men’s Health Month is all about. So let’s continue celebrating going forward.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.