The important message of Movember… and all those mustaches

erik hauglandThe Movember campaign and resulting mustaches popping up all over the metro are a great sign in terms of men’s health awareness. Movember is an annual event involving the growing of mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male health concerns, and associated charities.

This awareness is important and needed because when it comes to going to the doctor for annual check-ups, many men simply don’t “man up”. In fact, at least 40 percent of men in their 40’s have never had a cholesterol test and one-third refuse to go to the doctor for a check-up according to the International Society of Men’s Health.

But even men who feel fine need to see a health care provider regularly to avoid surprises and stay ahead of hereditary concerns. Most people who have high blood pressure don’t know it according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s the same with high blood sugar and high cholesterol — the conditions often don’t have any symptoms until the disease becomes advanced. The only way to know is to get checked.

Men over age 34 should be checked for high cholesterol and heart disease every 5 years. A preventive health visit should be every 2 years until age 50 and then once a year.

It’s a fact; men die at higher rates than women for all of the top 10 causes of death. That’s why it’s time to see your doctor and take control of your health. Many of these causes of death are preventable and can be treated if found early. Top among those health concerns are the following:

Heart Disease: Along with getting your cholesterol checked beginning at age 34 and every five years, keep in mind the following tips for preventing heart disease:

• Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, if they’re high.
• If you smoke, stop.
• Increase your physical activity to 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
• Eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or trans fats.

Stroke: African American men have a greater risk than many other groups for stroke and until the age of 75, men are at a higher risk than women for stroke. Risk factors to think about include:

• Increasing age
• Personal history of stroke or a transient ischemic attack or ministroke
• Diabetes
• High cholesterol
• Heart disease
• Smoking, including secondhand smoke
• Physical inactivity
• Obesity
• Alcohol and substance abuse

Depression and Suicide: Experts previously thought depression affected far more women than men. But that may just be men’s tendency to hide depressed feelings, or express them in ways different than women do. Things to consider include:

• Men are less likely to seek help for depression.
• Instead of showing sadness or crying, men get angry or aggressive. They cope in other ways, like drinking too much.
• Therapy and/or medication can make a big difference for sufferers.

Lung Cancer: In men, there are expected to be about 213,380 new cases of lung cancer and some 160,390 lung cancer deaths this year. These are alarming numbers but the key to preventing lung cancer is simple: stop smoking. You can talk to your health care team about ways to quit smoking.

Prostate Cancer: According to the American Cancer Society, African-American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and significantly more likely to die from the disease. See your doctor and talk about your overall risk.

Based on your family history and other key considerations, it is best to decide together if a digital rectal exam and blood test are necessary.

Finding diseases early when they are easier to treat can make all the difference. That’s why I encourage men to be proactive about recommended screenings, such as blood cholesterol, blood pressure, colorectal cancer, diabetes and prostate cancer tests. Ask your doctor about which tests you should have based on your age and other health factors. Your numbers provide a picture of your health status and your risk for certain diseases and conditions, so keep track of them.

It’s simple, while addressing one’s health is scary, avoiding it altogether can be deadly. Schedule your annual exam today. We offer many convenient locations all over the metro. Learn more here: or call 763.581.CARE (763.581.2273).

November 26, 2014
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