Men’s Health Month
In 1994, Congress passed a measure recognizing June as Men’s Health Month. Those that participate in the awareness campaign, including Western Maryland Health System (WMHS), offer health fairs, screenings, and other outreach and health education activities. If your workplace allows it, we encourage you to participate in Wear Blue Day on Friday, June 15. The organizers of this campaign purposely chose the Friday before Father’s Day since that holiday already gets a lot of attention. Men’s Health Network (MHN) chose the color blue because of its typical association with masculinity.
Some Statistics on Men’s Health That Might Surprise You
According to the MHN, male deaths top female deaths in nine of the top 10 fatality categories the United States. They also represent 92 percent of workplace fatalities. While women lived an average of one year longer than men a century ago, men today live an average of five years less than their female counterparts.
According to a 2014 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, the average life expectancy for Hispanic males is 79.2 years. It’s 76.7 for Caucasian males and 72.5 for African American males. This is five years less than females across all ethnicities. The leading causes of death for men include:
- Heart disease
Breast cancer is the only cause of death among the top 10 where men don’t lead the list. The numbers are also discouraging when it comes to homicide, depression, and suicide. Black men have a one in 32 chance of becoming a homicide victim while white men have a one in 179 chance. Boys and young men are also far more likely to commit suicide than girls and young women. For 15 to 19-year-olds, the rate is 3.1 times as likely and it’s 4.6 times as likely for men ages 20 to 24.
One explanation for the numbers on men’s health has to do with the overall reluctance of men to visit a doctor when they are hurt, sick, or concerned about new symptoms. According to the CDC, women are 100 times more likely to seek medical care under the same circumstances. Another is the unrealistic expectation that society places on men to never show weakness. A prevailing thought of this attitude is that seeking help is a sign of weakness. The CDC, MHN, and WMHS all hope to change that.
A Closer Look at Top Male Health Concerns
Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men. The cancer grows slowly over many years, which explains why most men diagnosed with the disease are over age 65. The male reproductive system includes the prostate as well as the penis and testicles. It sits in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. The prostate typically increases in size as a man ages. The first indication of trouble is a decreased flow of urine due to a narrowing of the urethra.
The good news about prostate cancer is that it’s often preventable with early and regular screening. The digital rectal exam and the prostate-specific antigen test can both detect the cancer while it’s still growing slowly. Some doctors will take a wait and see approach in the very early stages while others may suggest specific interventions to prevent further spread of the cancer.
Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in adolescent boys and young men from 15 to 35 years old. It’s also more common in white men than in black men. Men with an undescended testicle, abnormal testicular development, or Klinefelter syndrome have a higher likelihood of developing the disease. A painless lump or swelling in the scrotum is usually the first indication of testicular cancer.
Currently, no standard screening test for testicular cancer exists. For this reason, men should regularly examine their testicles and notify their doctor of any abnormalities.
Heart disease has remained the top killer of American men for many years. It is so prevalent that the CDC reports that it killed one of every four men in 2013. Approximately 8.5 percent of Caucasian men, 7.9 percent of African American men, and 6.3 percent of Hispanic men currently have heart disease. Additionally, slightly more than half of men who die from heart disease had no previous symptoms before the death. The CDC states that at least 70 and as much as 89 percent of all sudden cardiac events happen to men.
As with women, certain diseases and lifestyle factors play a prominent role in heart disease. These include diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and excessive use of alcohol.
According to Psychology Today, men’s mental health has reached the point of a silent crisis. In addition to higher rates of completed suicide, men have more substance abuse problems than women and utilize mental health services far less than women do. While the burden of expecting to be emotionally strong in all situations is partially to blame, men generally have fewer resources available to them to deal with stress.
We want to see men healthy at WMHS. If you or a man you love has or is in danger of developing a common male health condition, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers. He or she is happy to connect you to additional resources if needed.