Today, women are the healthcare decision-makers for 80% of American families. They are also three times more likely to see a doctor on a regular basis than men. [DoL; Loyola University Health System]
As more and more pieces of the healthcare system are pushed onto the consumer―where to go, who to see, how to pay―it’s time for everyone to take charge of their own health. Historically, men pay less attention to their health, are less likely to go to the doctor, and are more likely to make unhealthy or riskier choices. Sure, diseases can affect both genders, but many are statistically more common in men.
Here are a few men’s health “wake-up call” stats:
- Only 30% of a man’s health is determined by genetics, the rest is determined by lifestyle
- Men’s life expectancy averages just under 6-years shorter than women’s
- One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime
- Men are 4x as likely as women to commit suicide
- Men are 2x as likely as women to die from heart disease
- Men are 2x as likely as women to develop diabetes
Men’s health cuts across a range of medical conditions. Beyond the obvious such as prostate cancer, other highly prevalent, often deadly categories include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, depression, and skin and colon cancer. Prevention is the name of the game: regular cholesterol screenings, colonoscopy (at age 50), and diabetes testing. It means taking control of your health by going from an attitude of waiting until you're sick to proactively preventing illnesses and seeking early diagnosis. The payoff is huge, particularly where modest lifestyle changes hold the key to the future of your health.
Here are 5 men’s health prevention tips to consider:
- Prevent heart disease with exercise, good nutrition, not smoking, and avoiding too much alcohol.
- Prevent lung cancer and other lung diseases such as COPD by not smoking.
- Prevent skin cancer (e.g., basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma) by using sunscreen with SPF 30+.
- Prevent type 2 diabetes with good nutrition and weight management.
- Prevent stroke by keeping blood pressure down, avoid alcohol & tobacco, and maintain a healthy weight.
And then there’s healthcare’s financing. On a good day, health insurance can be an expensive, bureaucratic maze of red tape. It’s confusing, frustrating and candidly, often difficult to understand. For a start, follow the basic ABCs of health insurance:
- Access – are your providers of care in the network;
- Benefits – does the coverage fit with your personal needs; and,
- Cost – are premiums manageable within your budget.
But remember, if you change any one of these factors, it could impact another (i.e., richer benefits=higher cost; narrow provider network=lower cost). Lastly, there’s good news, many health plans now include robust wellness and prevention benefits, so look at your benefits carefully.
You are your own best healthcare advocate when it comes to financing and seeking medical care. Many people go through life without any major health issues, but taking personal ownership of your health goes a long way to ensuring a longer and better quality of life.
Lastly, as you ponder your men’s health action plan, here’s Sharewik’s Dr. Randy Martin addressing one of the age-old men’s health debates…Boxers or Briefs? - http://goo.gl/P5LnOA