Men’s Health Month is celebrated every year during the month of June with the intention of bringing awareness to preventable health problems amongst men and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease in men and boys.
In honor of Men’s Health Month and Men’s Health Week– the week leading up to Father’s Day (June 10-16) –we at Community Strong have put together some information about men’s health issues.
Throughout all ages in life, women are simply healthier than men. While the reasons for this are partially biological, men’s approach to health also plays a role in this trend too. So many men believe that if they live up to their roles in society that they’ll be healthy, and in the process, they end up prioritizing their actual health last.
The following are the top health issues men in St. Charles face, and how we can work to combat these issues.
1. Cardiovascular Disease
This is the leading threat to men’s health. In cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaques gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot forms and blocks the artery– leading to a heart attack or stroke. With heart disease and stroke being the first and second leading causes of death worldwide in both men and women, St. Charles is no different.
The mortality rate from heart disease in St. Charles County is rising, with 153.02 per 100,000 residents dying from heart disease in 2016, and 156.35 residents dying from heart disease in 2017.
Men’s average age for death from cardiovascular disease is under 65, while the average age for women is 71. Even in adolescence, girls’ arteries look healthier than boys’, and it’s believed that women have naturally higher levels of good cholesterol– so men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke, even from a young age.
Here are some tips for men to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease:
- Get your cholesterol checked every five years, starting at age 25
- Control high blood pressure and cholesterol
- Don’t smoke
- Do 30 minutes of physical activity per day, most days of the week, with friends and family
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or trans fats
2. Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is still one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It spreads early, and often metastasizes before symptoms show or even display on an X-ray. By the time it’s found, lung cancer is often advanced and challenging to cure. 50% of men who are diagnosed with lung cancer die after a year.
St. Charles residents have an incredibly high rate of mortality from lung cancer with 45.47 residents per 100,000 dying from malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus or lung between from 2013 to 2017.
Tobacco smoke is responsible for 90% of all lung cancers. With dropping smoking rates across the US, fewer men than ever are dying from lung cancer, but it’s still the leading cancer killer in men. In fact, there are more than enough male deaths from lung cancer in the US every year to fill the Superdome.
Quitting smoking at any age is the best way to reduce lung cancer rates in men. There are fewer preventative measures as effective as stopping tobacco smoking, and this applies to men (and women) of any age.
3. Prostate Cancer
The prostate– a walnut-sized gland behind the penis responsible for storing ejaculate fluids –is prone to problems as men age. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men just behind skin cancer. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, but only one in 35 will die from it. The problem is that there are a variety of prostate cancers– some slow-growing and unlikely to spread and some more aggressive –and there are not yet effective tests for identifying which cancers are more dangerous.
In St. Charles, 6.73 residents per 100,000 have died from malignant neoplasm of the prostate.
Screening for prostate cancer requires a digital rectal exam– the infamous gloved finger –and a blood test for prostate-specific antigen.
4. Depression & Suicide
Depression isn’t simply a bad mood or rough patch– it’s an emotional disturbance caused by a chemical imbalance in teh brain, and it affects the whole body and overall health. It disturbs sleep, appetite, and energy levels. Research even suggests that men with depression are more likely to develop heart disease.
Although it was previously believed by experts that depression disproportionately affected men more than women, it’s now believed that men simply have more of a tendency to hide depressed feelings or express them differently from women– through anger or aggression. Men are less likely to seek help from depression, and the results of this can be devastating. While women attempt suicide more often, men are more successful at completing it. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all men.
Suicide rates of St. Charles residents have risen from 11.88 per 100,000 in 2015 to 14.77 per 100,000 in 2017.
Most men (and women) respond well to depression treatment with therapy, medications, or a combination of both. If you think you might be depressed, reach out to your doctor or someone you trust to seek help
Men face many specific health issues that require attention and understanding to be addressed. The best way we can address these issues in St. Charles is by working through them together. Register to Community Strong St. Charles for access to events, classes, and shared health resources.