Men's Health

Daniel Leffingwell MS, RN

Date: 7/29/12


Contrary to the idea that the old man is a complainer about their health, most actually rate their health as good or excellent. This, despite the fact that most are diagnosed with at least one chronic illness.

Despite the fact that men are living longer there are still two older ladies to every old man.

Americans are living longer than ever, but American men still aren’t living as long as American women. The average life expectancy for men in the US is now roughly 75 years. For women, it’s more than 80.

6 Top Health Threats to Men

1. Cardiovascular Disease: The Leading Men's Health Threat

They call it atherosclerosis, meaning "hardening of the arteries." But it could as easily be from the Latin for "a man's worst enemy."

"Heart disease and stroke are the first and second leading causes of death worldwide, in both men and women," says Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC. "It's a huge global public health problem, and in the U.S. we have some of the highest rates."

In cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaques gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot forms, blocking the artery and causing a heart attack or stroke.

One in five men and women will die from cardiovascular disease, according to Labarthe. For unclear reasons, though, men's arteries develop atherosclerosis earlier than women's. "Men's average age for death from cardiovascular disease is under 65," he says; women catch up about six years later.

Even in adolescence, girls' arteries look healthier than boys'. Experts believe women's naturally higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) are partly responsible. Men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke:

Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8:

Is a technique touted by the Mayo Clinic Website's Healthy Heart Plan quick start plan:

2. Lung Cancer: Still a Health Threat to Men

Tobacco smoke causes 90% of all lung cancers. Thanks to falling smoking rates in the U.S., fewer men than ever are dying of lung cancer. But lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in men

3. Prostate Cancer: A Leading Cancer for Men

Close to 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer this year in the U.S.

But while one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, only one in 35 will die from it.

Screening for prostate cancer requires a digital rectal exam (the infamous gloved finger) and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA).

But in fact, "Screening has never definitively been shown to reduce the chances of dying from prostate cancer" a WebMD artfticle states, whi;le the Mayo Clinic website states: "PSA testing hasn't been proven to decrease deaths from prostate cancer. The main concerns noted are false-positives, overdiagnosis and overtreatment."

The PSA test isn't perfect, and can be elevated for other medical reasons. Researchers have also found that many low-risk (less aggressive, slow growing) prostate cancers can be simply observed for a period without needing aggressive treatment from the start.

All of this means that it's important to take the time to decide if you want to be screened or not depending on your personal history and choice. The scientific community agrees that a new way to screen and test for prostate cancer is needed. Meantime, talk with your doctor about what's best for you.

Mayo Clinic urologists recommend a personalized approach as men consider the benefits and risks of PSA screening. Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer in men. Therefore, it's still important to consider screening for those at high risk of developing cancer.

Mayo Clinic specialists recommend a discussion about PSA screening starting at age 40:

4. Depression and Suicide: Men Are at Risk

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all men; for young men it's higher.

5. Diabetes: The Silent Health Threat for Men

Diabetes usually begins silently, without symptoms. Over years, blood sugar levels creep higher, eventually spilling into the urine. The resulting frequent urination and thirst are what finally bring many men to the doctor.

The high sugar of diabetes acts on blood vessels and nerves everywhere in the body. Heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations are the fallout for thousands of men.

Boys born in 2000 have an alarming one-in-three chance of developing diabetes in their lifetimes. Overweight and obesity are likely feeding the diabetes epidemic. "The combination of diabetes and obesity may be erasing some of the reductions in heart disease risk we've had over the last few decades," warns Labarthe.

Exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can prevent type 2 diabetes. Moderate weight loss -- for those who are overweight -- and 30 minutes a day of physical activity reduced the chance of diabetes by more than 50% in men at high risk in one major study.

6. Erectile Dysfunction: A Common Health Problem in Men

Erectile dysfunction may not be life threatening, but it's still signals an important health problem. Two-thirds of men older than 70 and up to 39% of 40-year-old men have problems with erectile dysfunction. Men with ED report less enjoyment in life and are more likely to be depressed.

Erectile dysfunction is most often caused by atherosclerosis

Prostate Enlargement/BPH

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is an enlarged prostate gland. Symptoms include trouble with urination, a weak urine stream, and not feeling empty after urination. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicine, and surgery.

Low Testosterone

After age 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone. A decrease in sex drive sometimes accompanies the drop in testosterone, leading many men to mistakenly believe that their loss of interest in sex is simply due to getting older.

"Some say it's just a part of aging, but that's a misconception," says Jason Hedges, MD, PhD, a urologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. A gradual decline in testosterone can't explain a near-total lack of interest in sex, for example. And for Hedges' patients who are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s and having erectile problems, other health problems may be a bigger issue than aging.

"A lot of the symptoms are mirrored by other medical problems,"

Mezitis, who estimates that about a quarter to a third of the men he tests for low testosterone have levels below normal. "Sometimes it is testosterone, sometimes it is the thyroid, and sometimes it's something unrelated to hormones."

What Else Can We Do?

Excercise More:

Adults aged 65 and over spend on average 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down. This makes them the most sedentary age group.

They're paying a high price for their inactivity, with higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease and early death compared with the general population.

There's strong scientific evidence that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia.

This means avoiding long periods of TV viewing, computer use, driving, and sitting to read, talk or listen to music. 

While some activity is better than none at all, to get the maximum health benefit, you should aim to do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

Aim to do something every day, preferably in bouts of 10 minutes of activity or more. The more you do, the greater the health gains.

One way of achieving your weekly physical activity target is to do 30 minutes on at least five days a week.

Reduce Stress:

Good Strees vs. Bad Strees

Practice Healthy Habits:


1. 6 Top Health Threats to Men - What puts a man’s health at risk as he gets older? WebMD

2. Men's Health Mayo Clinic

3. Prostate cancer screening — a new model for the future? Living with cancer blog July 21, 2012 Prostate cancer screening — a new model for the future?   
By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N

4.  Age Older Men and Health: Health Sucess Older Men From Jerry Kennard, former Guide Updated June 28, 2006

5. Seniors' Health Great resource from Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

6. For Men: Tips for Good Health in Later Life

7. The importance of exercise as you get older NHS Choices:Your health, your choices