Are You Taking Care of Your Body?

Men’s Health Awareness Month

There is often societal pressure on men to be strong and resilient, to be breadwinners, and to be masters of their domain. Keeping up that image is often burdensome and leads to neglecting tasks that could tarnish that image. One of those areas is health.

There’s something to be said for the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.” It is almost as if there is no diagnosis then the disease or disorder does not exist. Unfortunately, magical thinking is not a viable treatment option. If that bump on your back is truly cancerous, it will eventually metastasize to the point of death, whether or not you seek a diagnosis. Which is why it is important to be vigilant regarding health concerns.

Graphic for the 'To-Do's' of men's health month. Graphic reads, "Prioritize your sleep! Check in with yourself. Health is all about balance! Don't forget to have fun!"

As part of Men’s Health Awareness Month, we have drawn up a short list of health concerns men should regularly seek treatment and testing for. In many cases, they are preventable if caught early on enough in the process–something that not as many men take advantage of.

DIABETES: Diabetes is a disease in which your body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin, or sometimes is a mix of both. According to the American Diabetes Association, over 11% of the population has diabetes or over 34 million people. Of all the items on the list, it is one of the most preventable options if the right improvements are made to one’s diet and exercise habits. If you are showing symptoms, ask your doctor to have a blood test done and get your blood glucose checked.

COLON CANCER: For men, there is a one in twenty-two chance of developing colon cancer. Also called “colorectal cancer”, this disease is highly treatable if caught early enough. Starting from age 45, it is highly recommended men begin regular screenings for it. These screenings can find the precancerous polyps from which colorectal cancer almost always develops. Oftentimes, people with colon cancer do not show any of the early symptoms such as bowel habit changes, cramping and bloating, blood in the stool, fatigue, weight loss–so it is important to regularly get screened. The good news is that the relative five-year survival rate is at 92% if diagnosed in the early stages.

PANCREATIC CANCER: While the mortality rates of many cancers have decreased over the years, pancreatic cancer remains an aggressive killer with only 10% of those diagnosed surviving past the five-year mark. One reason for this is that when people receive a diagnosis, it is often too far along for measures that could prevent its growth, as well as there is no recommended routine screening, unlike for other cancers. Warning signs of pancreatic cancer include yellowing of eyes and skin, late-onset diabetes, and back or abdominal pain and weight loss that occurs without cause. If you have experienced any of the signs, it’s recommended you consult a doctor right away and get testing done.

MENTAL HEALTH: Two years and counting from the start of the pandemic, mental health has become a more topical conversation than in preceding years. Being relatively isolated for months on end has done a number on many, or brought to light existing issues that had long been ignored. While mental health has long been stigmatized, it has been especially so for men. Men are half as likely to seek treatment for mental health than women and committed suicide 4x more than women in 2020. Living with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD can be difficult in of themselves, but going on without an official diagnosis and treatment can make things worse.

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