From infancy to old age, women are simply healthier than men. Out of the 15 leading causes of death, men lead women in all of them excluding Alzheimer’s disease, which many men don’t live long enough to develop.
Although the life expectancy gap between men and women has been shrinking, several factors still work primarily against men's health, particularly higher rates of smoking and drinking than women and the tendency to not maintain recommended health screenings and check-ups.
However, the top threats to men’s health aren't secrets - they're known, common and often preventable. So what are the top health threats to men and how can they be avoided?
- Cardiovascular Disease- According the American Heart Association, 1-in-3 men have some form of cardiovascular disease. Common knowledge among the medical community is that women are less prone to hear disease until the age of 55 year, whereas, men can suffer from heart disease at a much earlier age.
- Prostate Cancer- This is one health problem men can lay full claim to -- after all, women don't have prostates. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men other than skin cancer. Close to 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer this year in the U.S.
- Diabetes- Diabetes presents a unique set of complications for men, including greater risk for lower testosterone levels which can lead to depression and anxiety. Untreated diabetes also contributes to nerve and kidney damage, heart disease and stroke and vision problem.
- Skin Cancer- Men aged older than 50 years are at highest risk for developing skin cancer – more than twice as likely as women, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. This higher risk is likely attributable to more frequent sun exposure and fewer visits to the doctor.
- Liver Disease- Higher levels of alcohol and tobacco use put men at risk for liver disease, such as cirrhosis and alcoholic liver disease.
- Respiratory Disease- More men are diagnosed with lung cancer each year than in the past, according to the American Lung Association. Occupational hazards such as asbestos exposure contribute to this risk, but smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer.
How to Prevent These Top Health Threats
- Don't smoke. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose more vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and lean proteins such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated fat and sodium.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Losing excess weight, and maintaining can lower your risk of heart disease as well as various types of cancer.
- Get moving. Exercise can help you control your weight, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke and possibly lower your risk of certain types of cancer?
- Limit alcohol intake. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. That means up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger and one drink a day for men older than age 65. The risk of various types of cancer, such as liver cancer, appears to increase with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you've been drinking regularly. Too much alcohol can also contribute to hypertension.
- Manage stress. Learn to deal with stress in healthy ways.
- Stop avoiding the doctor. Don't wait to visit the doctor until something is seriously wrong. Follow your doctor's treatment recommendations if you have health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. Also, ask your doctor about when you should have cancer screenings and other health assessments.