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Men's health: keeping that motor running

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Most men realize the importance of proper maintenance to keep their homes and automobiles running smoothly. Unfortunately, when it comes to their health, men often overlook simple and effective strategies that could potentially save their lives.

Heart disease, cancer and stroke have become the leading causes ofillness and death in adults of both genders, but heart disease and stroke affect men at an earlier age than women. Health maintenance strategies for men also focus on prevention and screening for prostate and testicular cancer.

Many health problems men experience can be prevented by developing healthier lifestyles. A good diet and regular physical activity have been proven to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, colon cancer, depression and memory loss. Walking 30 minutes daily five times a week is a simple and effective start to living longer and healthier.

Use of tobacco products greatly increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and emphysema. Men who use tobacco have much higher rates of various cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, and bladder. Prostate cancer rates may be higher in smokers, also.

Alcohol abuse increases the risk of accidental trauma and contributes to health problems includingliver disease, cancer of the esophagus and stomach, and damage to the nervous system. Regular consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks daily may indicate problem drinking.

Unfortunately, some medical problems are unpreventable, so screenings are an important part of health maintenance. Just as women perform regular monthly breast self-exams, men should examine their testicles monthly between age 15 and 35 and advise their physician if they notice anything out of the ordinary or causes them concern. Men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer are at increased risk and should consider having their prostate examined by a doctor and having blood drawn for a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test beginning around age 45 to 50. Colon cancer screening should begin at age 50 and include a rectal examination and colonoscopy every ten years until age 75 for most men.

Screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol should begin in middle age. Earlier screening for diabetes and hypertension is recommended for men in their thirties if they have risk factors of obesity or a family history.


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