Men it’s time to get on top of your healthTuesday, 15 June 2021
A survey by Macmillan Cancer Support found that almost half of men would feel discouraged from talking about changes to their health such as a lump, a suspicious mole or pain, in case they were perceived as ‘making a fuss’. The survey also found that over 38% have been ‘kept awake at night’ in the last year because of health worries, and 11% of men who’ve noticed changes to their health have put off seeing a doctor because they are frightened that their symptoms might be a sign of a serious health condition.
Although fear and embarrassment are understandable, the earlier you talk to a doctor about a strange symptom, the quicker it can get resolved.
Throughout life men are more vulnerable to various disorders from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, adult onset hearing loss, blood and lymph cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and mental health issues. And their life expectancy remains five years less than women’s. Given all these factors, it’s vital for men to be proactive about their health.
It’s not just physical health – it is emotional health too. On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage. With men being less likely to reach out to friends, family or health professionals, the risk of anxiety and depression deepens. Alarmingly, men make up an average six out of every eight suicides each day in Australia.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here’s some simple steps to get on top of your health:
Get some sleep
Men who sleep seven to eight hours a night have about 60 per cent less risk of a fatal heart attack than those who sleep five hours or less.
Thirty minutes of moderate physical exercise daily, is one of the most important thing you can do. It reduces the risk of and help to manage virtually all chronic diseases, simultaneously. Being physically active is helpful for both mental and physical states, with inactive men being 60 per cent more likely to suffer from depression than those who are active.
Read our factsheet on the benefits of physical activity which includes tips and tricks for including more movement in your day.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle has been proven to have significant negative impacts on your health. Break up periods of sitting during the day and try not to sit for longer than 60 minutes at a time.
Get your prostate checked
Prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in men, but mention a prostate exam and most men will shudder at the thought. The reality is though, if detected early enough, it can be successfully treated.
Measure your waist
If your waist is between 102cm and 110cm you are at a medium risk of developing a chronic disease. A measurement over 110 means you are at a high risk. Talk to an exercise physiologist, dietitian or your GP to find ways to decrease your waist size.
Eating a healthy diet helps prevent diabetes and many other chronic conditions. Try to eat more fruit, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils), nuts and whole grains. Limit the amount of salt, sugar and saturated fats.
Check out our recipe collection or take a deeper dive into our range of information and factsheets designed to help you make good choices when it comes to food and healthy eating:
Tobacco use causes cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke. It is responsible for killing more than 7 million people across the world every year. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Within 2-12 weeks, your lung function improves. Within a year, your risk of heart disease is already half that of someone who smokes.
Reduce alcohol use
Drinking too much, or too often, increases your immediate risk of injury, road crashes and violence. It can also cause longer-term effects like liver damage, cancer and heart disease.
Harmful use of alcohol can affect your mental health and has a negative impact on your family and the people around you. Check out our factsheet on alcohol and diabetes.
Get help for stress, anxiety or depression.
Talk to your GP to get a referral to a specialist, or make an appointment through our Psychologist on Call service by ringing 1300 342 238.
If you are between 45 to 49 years book into a Medicare health check.
Talk to your friends – it could change their lives.
John, a cabbie from Newcastle, recently told us how encouraging his friend George to get onto his annual cycle of care checks may have saved his friend’s life. When John’s annual cycle of care checks were due, he encouraged George to get his done at the same time. George’s blood test showed elevated levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), prompting further checks. A specialist confirmed prostate cancer but, due to the early detection, George was able to be treated successfully and is now cancer-free.
For more information contact:
Contact your State or Territory diabetes organisation on 1800 637 700.
Cancer Foundation of Australia or visit www.prostate.org.au
Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36 or visit www.beyondblue.org.au