Men’s Top Health Risks
Your Life is Largely in Your Hands
Most men need to invest a lot more time in their health, and proof of that is demonstrated in fascinating research. Living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with access to one of the most advanced healthcare options, offerings, and technologies it would be easy to assume that U.S. men would lead the way in worldwide life expectancy. But you’d be wrong. The poor levels of life expectancy in the United States as compared with other rich nations is made shockingly clear in a recent report by the World Health Organization. Among high-income countries, the U.S. is among the poor-performing countries whose life expectancy at birth is already lower than most other high-income countries. While life expectancy in the U.S. is rising, we are still lagging behind other nations. The report states that the current life expectancy rate of 76.5 for U.S. males will reach 79.5 by 2030, a number comparable to the Czech Republic.
And the greatest threats to men’s health? The report further stated that this is due, in part, to a surprisingly short list of largely preventable chronic diseases. Here are the top 5 health risks for U.S. males, and what you can do to reduce your risk factors.
Heart disease is the number one killer of all men at 24.5%. According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 men have some form of cardiovascular disease, 2.8 million will experience a stroke, and 55% of men 55 and older have high blood pressure. Even young men are at risk as 11% of men between 20-34 already have high blood pressure, and even more experiencing prehypertension.
At a very close 23.4% according to the most current information available by the CDC (2014), cancer is the second leading cause of death in American males. The most commonly diagnosed cancers among men include prostate, lung, colon and rectum, and bladder. According to the American Lung Association, more men are diagnosed with lung cancer each year than in the past, largely due to smoking.
Accidents are the next leading cause of death in U.S. men at 6.4%. Of these accidental deaths, motor vehicle accidents, unintentional drug overdose, and falls make up the largest contributors. The number of drug related deaths is on the rise amid a growing epidemic of addiction.
Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
Smoking earlier in life, and throughout one’s life plays a large role in the 5.2% of respiratory disease deaths. Of these, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) makes up the majority of these deaths followed by chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
Stroke, or cerebrovascular disease, is a blockage in the blood vessels leading to the brain, and hemorrhage due to things like aneurisms. It is the fifth leading cause of death in men at 4.2%. Though some risk factors for stroke cannot be changed, such as age and race, others such as smoking and high blood pressure can be. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that 8 out of 10 strokes can be prevented.
Diabetes, a condition in which the body does not process food properly to use as energy, is another top health risk for men, with 3.1% of male deaths attributed to it. The CDC lists diabetes as the sixth leading cause of death in men, although that rate is likely higher. The American Diabetes Association asserts that Diabetes is underreported as a cause of death as studies show that only 35% to 40% of people with diabetes who die had diabetes listed anywhere on the death certificate, and only 10% to 15% had it listed as the underlying cause of death.
The Really Good News About Men’s Health Risks
Most of us avoid thinking about our health risks, but we shouldn’t. In this case knowledge, really is power. By knowing the risks, you can understand the steps to lowering them. Fortunately, men can significantly lower their risks for these common killers with some simple lifestyle changes.
If you don’t smoke, don’t start; if you do, quit. Smoking is a factor in many types of cancers, and heart disease and quitting lowers those risks significantly. Quitting also dramatically lowers heart rate and blood pressure within minutes of cessation.
Maintain your weight. Taking off and keeping off excess pounds lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many types of cancers.
Eat a healthy diet. Put aside the burgers and fries and opt in to more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber, and lean proteins. Not only will you feel great and have more energy, you will lower all of your health risks.
Exercise more. Any increased physical activity is going to benefit you in lowering your risks. Increased exercise helps you control your weight which in turn lowers your risk a multitude of health risks.
Reduce your alcohol consumption. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. The risks for certain types of cancer, such as liver, mouth, throat, and colon; and increased blood pressure increases with the amount of alcohol and the length of time you have been drinking regularly.
Reduce your stress. Stress negatively impacts the body in many ways and is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
The ability to enjoy life to its fullest requires investing time and effort into health maintenance and disease prevention. At Healthy Kansas City magazine, we encourage you to take control of your health and see your doctor regularly.