How Can Men Lead Healthier Lives?
According to the National Center of Health Statistics, the average life expectancy of women in the United States is 81 years, which is five years longer than men whose average life expectancy is 76 years. Life expectancy can be influenced by genetics but everyone has the ability to choose preventive behaviors that support a longer and healthier life.
Men lead the death rate in some of the most life-threatening medical conditions such as heart disease and a variety of cancers. That said, our specialty physicians share preventive tips that may help lower your risk of developing heart disease and some of the most common, life-threatening cancers.
In the U.S., heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, with one in every four male deaths being heart- related. The most common form of heart disease in men is coronary artery disease, and more than half of the men who die from it have no previous symptoms. Although you may not present initial symptoms, it is still possible to be at risk for fatal heart disease, which is why discussing preventive measures with your physician is important for lowering your risk of future heart complications.
Cardiologist, Dr. Evans Pappas, shares some helpful ways to take preventive action for a healthy heart.
Completing an annual physical with your primary care physician helps to monitor for underlying health conditions including heart disease or high cholesterol. During your physical, your doctor will check your blood pressure and heart rate, your Body Mass Index (BMI) score and review your personal and family medical history to get a complete picture of your current health. From there, your physician may recommend additional testing, including blood work or refer you to a specialist if needed.
Diet and Exercise
If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol or blood pressure, you should modify your diet and exercise as soon as possible. It is recommended that you limit your salt, sugar and processed food intake and instead incorporate a diet with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish and fats from avocados and nuts. Also, daily exercise of at least 30 minutes can help maintain a healthy weight and metabolism, which is shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, therefore decreasing your risk of heart disease.
Further preventive screenings may be helpful in properly assessing your risk for heart disease. To get a clear visual of the plaque levels from fats, cholesterol and calcium in your heart, a heart scan- also known as a coronary calcium scan- may be recommended for men over the age of 40 who have elevated risk for vascular disease.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and the mortality rate is higher among men than women. According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most fatal cancers in men are lung, prostate and colorectal cancer.
Oncologist, Dr. Samir Desai shares the best ways for lowering your risk of developing these cancers.
The most effective way to prevent lung cancer is to avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. If you currently smoke, you should take steps to quit by following a healthy a diet and exercising regularly to help lower your risk. Using e-cigarettes and/or vaping may also increase your risk of developing lung cancer. E-cigarettes cause the same secondhand smoke concerns as traditional cigarettes and their vapors contain nicotine, metals, toxins and other cancer-causing chemicals.
The biggest risk factor for prostate cancer is age and you may not be able to prevent prostate cancer entirely. You can be proactive about your health and complete a prostate screening to identify any prostate issues including cancer earlier when they are easier to treat. Prostate cancer screenings include checking your prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels and digital rectal exams (DRE) are recommended for men ages 50 and older, or if you have a personal or family history of prostate or other cancers.
Similar to prostate cancer, you cannot necessarily prevent colon cancer, however early detection and removal of polyps and other abnormalities within your colon or rectum can prevent cancer from developing. If cancer is found early, beginning treatment right away greatly increases your chance of remission. Men who are considered an average risk for colorectal cancer should begin colonoscopy screenings at the age of 50 with repeat screenings recommended every 10 years. If you’re considered to be at a higher risk, or have had a colonoscopy with abnormal results, your physician will help you determine an appropriate screening schedule.
In general, you can reduce your risk of developing many types of cancers with simple lifestyle modifications such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, staying active and limiting your alcohol intake.
 Xu, JQ, Murphy, SL., Kochanek, KD, Bastian, BA. Deaths: Final data for 2013. National Vital Statistics Report. 2016:64(2).
 Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart AssociationExternal. Circulation. 2012;125(1):e2–220.