Mind & Body
Men’s Health Month
6/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
Men's Health

June is Men’s Health Month, a time when healthcare providers, educators, and Thrive magazine strive to raise awareness of preventable health problems through early disease detection and treatment, and to encourage men to live a healthy lifestyle, both physically and psychologically. In this special section, you’ll find articles on the major threats to men’s health, exercise alternatives for men who dislike the gym and, to reduce stress and improve your mental health, you’ll find a story on great places to escape for a long weekend with the guys.

6 Top Health Threats for Men

By Matthew Welsh

Despite the overwhelming number of potential health problems men face, and the fact that many of those problems could be minimized or avoided completely with preventive care, too many men pay too little attention to their health. "Men tend to put their health last,” says Dr. Jason Burklow, family medicine physician with Imperial Health. "Most men think that as long as they’re able to live up to their daily responsibilities, then they’re healthy.” 

According to a recent study, out of the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S., men lead women in all of them except Alzheimer’s disease, which many men don’t live long enough to develop. 

Here are the top 6 health threats that men should be aware of:

1. Cardiovascular Disease - The Leading Men’s Health Threat

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for men in the United States. Men’s arteries tend to develop atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) earlier than women causing cholesterol plaques to gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If the plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot can form, blocking blood flow which can result in a heart attack or stroke. 

"Cardiovascular disease and stroke are preventable,” says Dr. Burklow. By implementing small changes in your lifestyle, you can significantly decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.  

Know your cholesterol numbers

Maintain and control your blood pressure

Increase your physical activity (at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week)

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Quit smoking (if applicable)

2. Lung Disease - Still a Health Threat to Men

Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer and accounts for roughly 90 percent of lung cancer cases diagnosed each year. "While exposure to occupational hazards like asbestos increases your risk, smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer,” says Dr. Burklow.

Dr. Burklow recommends that anyone – men especially – who has smoked more than 30 years, talk to a physician about having a low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer. 

"While quitting smoking is very challenging, it’s the most effective preventive measure any man can take to reduce their risk of developing lung cancer.  There are several new tools available to help men quit. Talk to your doctor about your options."

3. Prostate Cancer - A Leading Cancer for Men

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. It is the second leading type of cancer death in men, after lung cancer.  Close to 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer in the U.S. this year alone. 

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland behind the penis that secretes fluids and is important for ejaculation and tends to become prone to problems as men age. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, but only one in 35 will die from it. "Many prostate cancers are slow-growing and are unlikely to spread,” says Dr. Burklow. "Screening for prostate cancer is important and should be done annually for men over the age of 50.” 

4. Depression and Suicide - Men Are at Risk

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) statistics show that more than 6 million men suffer from depression each year. "Instead of showing sadness or crying, men get angry or aggressive and are far more unlikely to seek help for depression,” says Dr. Burklow. When depression goes untreated, the results can be tragic. 

Men are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, which attributes to part of the blame that depression goes undiagnosed in men. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

Call 911 

Stay with the person until help arrives

Remove any objects or items that may cause harm (guns, knives or medications)

Listen, don’t judge, argue threaten or yell

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide preventive hotline (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255). 

5. Diabetes - The Silent Health Threat for Men

According to John Hopkins Medicine, diabetes affects 13 million U.S. men, compared to 12.6 million U.S. women. Diabetes usually begins silently, without symptoms. Over time, blood sugars elevate, eventually spilling into urine which results in frequent urination and thirst which garners enough attention for men to see a doctor. 

"Excess glucose acts as a slow poison on blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. If left untreated, diabetes can wreak havoc on your body which could lead to nerve and kidney damage, heart disease and stroke, and even vision problems or blindness,” says Dr. Burklow. 

The American Diabetes Association recommends that men "get out, get active, and get informed” and the best way to control diabetes is to eat healthy and exercise.

6. Erectile Dysfunction - A Common Health Problem in Men

Two-thirds of men older than 70 and up to 39% of 40-year-old men will experience some form of erectile dysfunction. Some recent research indicates that erectile dysfunction may be linked to cardiovascular disease.

"It may seem uncomfortable to visit with a physician about erectile dysfunction, but there are effective treatments available. Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of an underlying health problem, such as cardiovascular disease, so it’s imperative to seek the advice of a qualified physician,” Dr. Burklow said. 

Dr. Burklow stresses the most important step a man who has been ignoring his health can take is to see a doctor for a complete exam and routine tests, based on their age. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Burklow, call 337-474-7290.

Great Getaways for Guys 

by Andrea Guthmann

Research shows most of the time it’s women who make the travel plans and decisions. But sometimes guys just need to get away . . . whether it’s for a blowout bachelor party, a father-son adventure, or a chance to bond with buddies from high school or college. Here are five very different itineraries for trips guys will love. 

Sportsman’s Paradise 

Twenty minutes south of Lake Charles, Grosse Savanne Lodge (https://www.grossesavanne.com) is a 50,000 acre hunting lodge bordering both a freshwater marsh and a saltwater lake. Professional guides will make sure you have your pick of fishing, duck, and alligator hunting. While some hunting lodges are basic cabins where you’re roughing it, Grosse Savanne is an elegant accommodation with all the comforts of a luxury resort, including a game room, bar, and in-house dining. Forget about franks-n-beans. Grosse Savanne’s chef creates world class cuisine using local game. 

Stellar Adventure

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. In Texas Hill Country¹s Upper Highland Lakes Region, far removed from light pollution, is a dream trip for an astro-enthusiast seeking dark skies. Canyon of the Eagles Resort (http://canyonoftheeagles.com) has high-tech telescopes and a Master Astronomer helping guests find the moon and distant stars during a free hour and a half program offered Wednesday through Sunday nights. Break up the five and a half hour road trip by stopping at Space Center Houston. Throughout July they’re celebrating the remarkable accomplishments of Apollo 11 astronauts and engineers who got us to the moon.

Tropical Escape

Longing to escape to a tropical island, but don’t want to deal with the hassles of a passport? No shoes, no shirt, no problem pretty much sums up the easy-going ambience of the Florida Keys. Legendary American author Ernest Hemingway fell in the love with island life during what was meant to be a quick stay in Key West. He ended up staying ten years, writing some of his most famous novels there. Besides writing, Hemingway spent a lot of time fishing. Nicknamed the Conch Republic, the Florida Keys are a mecca for deep sea fishing. 

No need to travel all the way to Key West though. The Florida Keys are 100 miles long. Make the Middle Keys your home base. Hawks Cay Resort (https://www.hawkscay.com) in tiny Duck Key is a great choice. Two hours south of Miami International Airport, 90 minutes north of Key West, it has its own marina where you can charter a fishing boat or head out to the world famous reefs to snorkel or scuba dive. You can even get certified to dive during your trip. If you’re angling to catch a challenging trophy fish— the kind you’ll be boasting about for years to come—consider a swordfishing excursion with Tailwalker Charters. Upon your return, Hawks Cay offers "Hook and Cook”— their chefs will prepare your catch just the way you like at the waterfront Angler and Ale restaurant. 

On your return to Miami, stop in northernmost Key Largo at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, a pink and green shack world-famous for its key lime pie and conch chowder.

Golf the Gulf

Closer than the better-known Florida Panhandle beaches, the Gulf Shores of Alabama have the same beautiful blue waters, plus an abundance of greens. Coastal Alabama Golf (https://coastalalabamagolf.com) can help you choose between nine golf courses, designed by some of the world’s greatest golf course architects, including Arnold Palmer, US Open Champion Jerry Pate, and Earl Stone.

Alabama’s Gulf Shores are filled with oceanfront condo vacation rentals, perfect for a large group. If you want a classic hotel experience, head over to the beachfront Hampton Inn. 

Get your fill of Gulf seafood at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina (https://fishersobm.com//). Head upstairs for an elegant evening or stay below for a more relaxed experience. When it's time for a margarita, head over to where Mr. Margaritaville himself, Jimmy Buffett, an Alabama native, goes when he's in town— his sister Lucy Buffett's restaurant and bar. Lulu's (https://lulubuffett.com) offers casual coastal dining and nightly live music.

Historic New Orleans

The Big Easy turned 300 last year. High time to take the time to explore its history. On the drive to NOLA, stop at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie. Stroll the manicured gardens and step inside the antebellum mansion during the half day tour where you’ll experience a bygone era in one of the South's most beautiful settings. 

For a taste of New Orleans’ history, take the 3 hour narrated lunch cruise aboard the Creole Queen paddlewheeler (https://www.creolequeen.com/chalmette-battlefield-river-cruise). For dinner, book a table at Antoine’s, the historic white-linen dining palace in the French Quarter. Rest your head in history by staying at the new Hotel Peter & Paul (https://hotelpeterandpaul.com/grounds), a magnificent restoration and repurposing of a 19th century Catholic church.

10 Proven Secrets and Health Tips for Men Over 50

Why is it that in a country with the best health care in the world we have so many unhealthy men? The problem gets worse as men age. Men age 50+ are the worst offenders. Just when they have the time to enjoy their lives, travel with their spouses or partners, enjoy their grandkids, and take time for hobbies, their wellness begins to fail. They become sedentary, neglect their health and, as a result, die younger than women and experience more chronic disease. 

Conversely, what makes a healthy baby boomer tick?  How did they stay focused with all the complexities of their lives and still find time to take care of themselves? Through research and surveys, the answers across the board were about the things most of us value the most: wives, partners, spouses, kids, grandkids, friends, hobbies, and careers. Our social connections are what motivate us to care about our health and take the necessary steps to get healthy and stay healthy. But you can’t reach these goals or be active in your life if you aren’t healthy.

Below are the strategies featured in Crack The Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men Over 50, by Louis Bezich, that can help men create their own secret sauce for healthy living. 

Assess Your Current State All good plans start with a candid and introspective assessment of your present state of social circumstances and health behavior. Answering the question "Where are you now?” is fundamental to a successful plan. 

Create Your Vision Once you acknowledge your current state, you can consider, "Where do you want to be?” Goal setting is the first step in translating your social vision into concrete, measurable actions that will form sustainable inspiration. 

Build Your Strategy Your implementation strategy, asking "How are you going to get there?” is where the rubber meets the road. It’s your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual action plan, which fuels your inspiration and implements your plan. 

Create Your Personal Lifestyle Network Partnerships and social engagement are a common theme among men who live healthily. This strategy guides you in the development of your own social network.

Design A Sustainability Plan Contingency planning is common in business and life. It should also be part of your personal health behavior. Healthy men have a plan. 

Leverage Micro Motivators While your lifestyle design appropriately starts with consideration of your greatest values and priorities, your micro motivators are what serve as the support structure in the practical details of your daily routines. 

Diversify  Just like your financial portfolio, a diversity of social and behavioral tactics adds strength and security to your lifestyle architecture.

Be Optimistic There is a link between optimism and good health. 

Adjust  Life is not a stagnant proposition. Circumstances, values, and behaviors can and sometimes need to change, particularly as you age. Adjusting to new ideas and circumstances is a key factor in your design.

Be A Hero Knowing that we can influence the behavior of others by our actions, whether they are our 50+ brothers or the next generation of men, can be a powerful motivator. So, get out there, make your plan, and live your healthy life!

Louis Bezich is a healthcare executive, husband, father, grandfather, part-time professor, and author with a passion for health and fitness.

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