The week of June 10, culminating on Father’s Day, June 16, has been declared “Men’s Health Week,” both internationally and in the U.S., and the month of June is “Men’s Health Month.” These observances highlight men’s health facts, and encourage men to take common-sense steps to protect their health and avoid preventable diseases.
In a statement on National Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day, issued June 10, U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, said this is “a good time to focus on how men can take care of their own physical and mental health for themselves and for the well-being of their families. That means eating right, being active, and getting health insurance to ensure their families’ security and peace of mind.”
According to a website on Men’s Health maintained by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), “Men face unique health challenges, and one of the most dangerous is their reluctance to seek health care. In fact, according to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), men are 24 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the past year.”
“Many of the major health risks that men face—such as colon cancer and heart disease—can actually be prevented and treated with earlier diagnosis,” the HHS site states.
“Screening tests can often find these diseases early, when they are easier to treat. For these reasons, it is crucial that men go against their tendency of avoiding health care and begin having regular checkups and screenings,” HHS advises.
Men’s Health Week and Men’s Health Month highlight many resources available, both from the federal government and from non-profit and private sources, to help men learn how to protect their health for themselves and their families.
Resources Supporting Men’s Health
Men’s Health Facts.
The Men’s Health Network, a national non-profit organization, provides a series of brochures and flyers on Men’s Health Facts.
According to the Men’s Health Network’s Men’s Health Fact Sheet, here are some of the little known facts:
- “Men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death and are the victims of over 92% of workplace deaths. (BLS)”
- “In 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now, men, on average, die almost six years earlier than women. (CDC)”
- “Women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. (CDC 2001)”
- The most common cause of death in men is Heart Disease, followed by Cancer, Injuries, Stroke, HIV/AIDS, and Suicide.
- “Testosterone is linked to elevations of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and declines in HDL, the good cholesterol.”
- “Men have fewer infection-fighting T-cells and are thought to have weaker immune systems than women.”
- “By the age of 100, women outnumber men eight to one. (NYT Magazine 3-16-03)”
The Men’s Health Network also provides a searchable online Men’s Health Library.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of men in the United States, according to a Men and Heart Disease Fact Sheet provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
More Men’s Health Topics and Facts are provided by the HHS WomensHealth.gov website.
When to Have a Health Check-Up/ Screening.
According to MedlinePlus, a website maintained by the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, “Even if you feel fine, it is still important to see your health care provider regularly to check for potential problems.”
For example, “Most people who have high blood pressure don’t even know it. The only way to find out is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Likewise, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels often do not produce any symptoms until the disease becomes advanced,” the site explains.
MedlinePlus provides age-specific and condition-specific guidelines for when you should get a health screening, including specific health-screening guidelines for men over age 65..
The HHS WomensHealth.gov website lists all of the age-specific screening guidelines for men that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
The Affordable Care Act (which some call “Obamacare”) Improves Access to Health Care and Affordable Health Insurance.
Secretary Sebelius’ statement for Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day focuses on some of the resources provided under the Affordable Care Act that support and promote men’s health.
“[T]hanks to the Affordable Care Act, new options [to obtain affordable health insurance] will soon be available for the nearly 23 million men who are eligible,” Secretary Sebelius says.
“Beginning October 1, 2013, individuals and small businesses will be able to visit a Health Insurance Marketplace to compare health coverage options and choose the plan that best fits their needs and wallet. In fact, some individuals will be eligible for free or low-cost plans. Coverage will begin as early as January 1, 2014.”
In addition, “Because of the health care law, starting January 1, no one can be turned away or charged more for coverage (whether through the Marketplace or otherwise) because of a pre-existing condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or prostate cancer. The Affordable Care Act also requires most private health insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services, such as cholesterol checks, alcohol misuse counseling, depression screening, and help to quit smoking,” Secretary Sebelius’ statement points out.
Health and Prevention Tips for Men.
The main focus of Men’s Health Week, and Men’s Health Month (the entire month of June) is to encourage men to take steps, including lifestyle changes, that can promote good health and help prevent diseases.
The HHS Men’s Health website lists “Five Manly Steps to Good Health,” which include:
- “Get routine check-ups and preventive screenings (see link to Men’s Health Guide in Resources below).
- Be more physically active and make healthy food choices.
- Get to your healthy weight and stay there.
- Become tobacco free.
- Drink only in moderation.
- Manage stress.”
Eleven Tips for Men for a Healthy Life are provided by the HHS WomensHealth.gov website, including:
- Eat healthy, and learn nutrition basics and how to read a food label.
- Stay at a healthy weight, and find out your body mass index (BMI), to see if you’re at risk.
- Get moving. “Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Find out how much physical activity you need.”
- Be smoke-free. “Smoking is linked to many of the leading causes of death, including cancer, lung disease, and stroke. If you smoke, quit today!” Also avoid second-hand smoke.
- Get routine exams and screenings. “Ask your doctor how often you need to be examined. Ask about screening tests for certain diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sexually transmitted infections, and certain types of cancer.”
- Take any medications you need, and learn about medication safety.
- Avoid heavy drinking. “Heavy drinking can lead to many problems, including high blood pressure, various cancers, psychological problems, and accidents. For men 65 and younger, drinking in moderation means no more than two drinks per day. Men older than 65 should have no more than one drink a day. Find out about drink serving sizes.”
- Manage stress, and find healthy ways to cope with stress.
- Get enough sleep. “Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood and your health. Try certain changes that can improve your sleep.”
- Know your risks. “Learn how your lifestyle affects your risk of health problems. For example, people who work with certain chemicals need to take protective steps, and men who have sex with men should talk with their doctors about particular concerns. You also should keep track of your family medical history and share it with your doctor.”
- Stay safe. “Safety means many things, like wearing seatbelts and helmets, having working smoke detectors, and following safety rules at work. It also means using condoms, washing your hands, taking care of your teeth, and wearing sunscreen. Take steps to protect yourself and others.”
“Men’s Health Month is a chance for both men and women to increase their awareness of the potentially significant health problems that men face, as well as what steps they can take to prevent such problems,” HHS says on its Men’s Health site.
“Taking care of yourself is part of being the best man you can be. There’s nothing manly—or beneficial—about ignoring your health,” says HHS.
See also, “Men Stay Healthy at Any Age,” a brief 2-page pamphlet provided by the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
See related HelpingYouCare® reports on:
For more information on maintaining a healthy weight, healthy diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors that promote wellness and prevent diseases, see the HelpingYouCare® resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:
- Weight Loss/ Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Physical Wellness;
- Diet & Nutrition: Physical Wellness;
- Exercise: Physical Wellness;
- Sleep, Hygiene, Quit Smoking & Other Healthy Practices: Physical Wellness;
- Activities to Preserve Mental Acuity: Intellectual Wellness;
- Social Interaction & A Sense of Connection With Others: Social Wellness;
- Other Areas of Wellness: Emotional, Ethical/ Spiritual & Vocational Wellness; and
- Healthy Living: Stories of Inspiring Seniors.
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