Men are at high risk for certain diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- Prostate cancer
- Depression and suicide
- Lung cancer
- Unintentional injuries and accidents
- Liver disease
- Skin cancer
- Flu and pneumonia
Some of the diseases listed begin silently, without noticeable symptoms, until they have progressed to a serious point. Prostate and skin cancer are the most common cancers diagnosed in men and many times go undetected and undiagnosed for long periods of time. Many health risks men face can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis. Screening tests can find these diseases when they are easier to treat and cure. Some men hope symptoms they experience are just temporary and “will go away.” They put off seeking medical treatment until they are in great pain, or until a wife or female loved one insists on making a physician appointment for them.
Because men have a history of not taking care of themselves and not seeking early medical treatment, they die five years earlier than women, on average. Out of the leading causes of death, men lead women in all of them except Alzheimer’s disease, and this is probably because many men don’t live long enough to develop the disease.
Mental illness is another disease men do not like to talk about or admit to experiencing. Depression was previously thought of as a woman’s disease, but researchers believe this is because women seek help for depression and men tend to hide depressed feelings or express them differently than women. The National Institute of Mental Health reports at least six million men suffer from depressive disorders annually. Men who suffer with depression often turn to drugs or alcohol to suppress their feelings. This type of behavior and the stress associated with it can often lead to heart disease or certain types of cancer. Depression can also lead to suicide, the eighth leading cause of death among men.
Health issues can be scary, but avoiding them can be life threatening. Be a real man. Call your doctor. Make that appointment.
Jeffrey Grills, MD, completed his medical education at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and his Internal Medicine Residency at Indiana University. Dr. Grills currently serves as Vice-President of Medical Affairs at Freeman.