Hopla’s Health Tips – Men’s Health: A Forgotten Group?

Deborah L. Hopla, DNP, Contributing Writer

Recently, the public has been bombarded with women’s issues like: breast cancer (pink ribbons), heart disease (red dress month), and cervical cancer prevention (“Not one more” HPV prevention). Men’s health issues are rarely brought to the forefront; yet men are still more likely to die before women.

For young men ages 13-35, testicular cancer can be a killer. The American Cancer Society Surveillance Research (ACSSR) reports that there are 8,820 new cases of testicular cancer annually. Some of the risk factors for developing testicular cancer are: having an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism), having congenital abnormalities of the penis or testicles or having a family history of testicular cancer.

If a man has any of these risk factors, he should see a health care provider. A man should check his testicles once a month to ensure there are no unusual lumps, bumps or changes in size. Should any of these things be detected, they should be reported to the provider.

Heart disease, stroke and kidney failure rates remain higher in men. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) one in every four men die from heart disease. Men also die more often from sudden cardiac death. The CDC states that 70-80 percent of deaths occur from sudden events and half of these men had no previous symptoms or warnings of heart problems. Factors that increase a man’s risk for heart disease are: increased blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, obesity and sedentary lifestyle, smoking, increased fatty food intake, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides (hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipidemia), and excessive alcohol intake.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) also take a toll on men. The risk for contracting HIV and AIDS increases with every new sexual partner. Condom use can help but only if used all the time. Other STD’s include syphilis, HPV, chlamydia, non-gonorrheal urethritis, gonorrhea, and trichinosis. Some of these diseases are curable if detected early, but some are not and can be managed only with medication. The risk of spreading these diseases to a partner can be devastating to a relationship and a man’s health.

Men do not go to health care providers as often as women and tend to ignore warning signs. It is important to know the risk factors. Men comprise half of our population.