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Men’s Health Awareness

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

June 3, 2021

June is Men’s Health Month

The month of June is used to raise awareness about the importance of preventative medicine among men. Additionally, Men’s Health Month aims to increase awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men.

Make Prevention a Priority

Many people do not see the point of visiting their doctors when they feel normal. Statistics show that women are one hundred percent more likely than men to visit the doctor for annual exams and preventative services. 1 However, the reason it is important to visit your doctor for regular checkups when you feel healthy is to detect health conditions in the early stages and assess your risk of developing certain conditions. As a general rule with some exceptions, early diagnosis and lifestyle changes can open the door to better treatment options and recovery for most health conditions. Below are some screenings to consider in different stages of adult life:

Health Screenings for Men

Prostate cancer: Start screening at age 50 if you don’t have high risk, at age 45 if you possess risk factors such as being African American, or having a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65). You will need to start getting screened at age 40 if you have more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age. 2

Lung cancer: Start your annual screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) at age 55, and if you currently smoke, have a 30 pack a year smoking history, or have quit within the past 15 years. 3

Colorectal cancer: Start screening at age 45 or before if you have high risk. 4

Blood pressure: If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, be sure to get it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20. 5

Cholesterol: Start screening for cholesterol every four to six years, starting at age 20. After age 40, your health care provider will also want to use an equation to calculate your 10-year risk of experiencing cardiovascular disease or stroke. 6

Dental checkup: Visit your dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. 7

Blood glucose: Start testing your blood glucose at age 45, or before if you are overweight, or have additional risk factors for diabetes such as physical inactivity, high blood pressure, first-degree relative with diabetes, high-risk race/ethnic group, among other risk factors. 8

Eye checkup: If you are between the ages of 40 and 54, you should check your eyes every 2 to 4 years and every 1 to 3 years if you are between the ages of 55 and 64. More frequent eye checkups are recommended if you have vision problems, glaucoma risk or diabetes. 9

Although men can develop many health conditions, cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer are the two main disease-related causes of death for men in America. Below are some statistics: 10

  • About 8.9 million men alive today have cardiovascular hearth disease (CHD). Of these, 4.9 million have a history of myocardial infarction (MI, or heart attack).
  • Among men age 20 and older, 7.8% of non-Hispanic whites, 7.2% of non-Hispanic blacks and 6.7% of Hispanics have CHD.
  • Over 50% of men in their 60s and as many as 90% in their 70s or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
  • One man in eight will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

Although hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy or ADT) is a standard and effective treatment for prostate cancer, it has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).11  Moreover, men with cardiovascular risk factors or previous cardiovascular events are at particularly high risk of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events. 12

Cancer survivors may be less likely to receive recommendations for cardiovascular risk factor modification compared to other patients. Given the growing population of prostate cancer patients and survivors receiving ADT, it is crucial for patients at high risk for CVD to consider lifestyle changes that can minimize ADT treatment-related adverse effects, and reduce their risk of cardiovascular events.

4 Dietary Recommendations for People with Cardiovascular Risk

Quit smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels by inducing inflammation, the formation of plaque, tissue remodeling, stiffened arteries that slow down healthy blood flow, and a tendency to form clots inside veins and arteries. Blockage from a clot can lead to a heart attack, stroke and sudden death. The increased risk of death linked to smoking decreases to the level of a “someone who has never smoked 20 years after quitting. 13

For more information and resources to quit smoking visit:

Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight: Recent data highlights abdominal obesity, as determined by waist circumference, as a cardiovascular disease risk marker that is independent of body mass index. Lifestyle modification and subsequent weight loss improve metabolic syndrome that is related to obesity, systemic inflammation, and changes in blood vessels that can lead to cardiovascular diseases. 14

Being aware of how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight can help you to achieve your desired weight. Once you know how many calories you should be eating and drinking you can track the calories using cellphone apps or nutritional labels. Additionally, increasing physical activity can help you burn additional calories which can speed up your weight loss and/or reduce the need for calorie restriction. Visit your registered dietitian to learn about your personal calorie and nutrient needs based on your age, lifestyle and health conditions.

Get moving: According to the American Heart Association 15, exercising can bring several cardiovascular benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Reduction in body weight
  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Reduction in bad (LDL and total) cholesterol
  • Increase in good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Increase in insulin sensitivity
  • Improvement of muscular function, strength, and the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (or an equal combination of both) each week. For more information click here.

Eat healthy: The best diet for preventing heart disease includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils. This diet also includes low-fat dairy products, non-tropical oils, and alcohol in moderation. It is also important to limit red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium, and foods with trans-fat. 16

This eating pattern can lower  the risk of heart disease by 31%, lower the risk of diabetes by 33% and lower the risk of stroke by 22%. 17

Dietary Recommendations 18

  • Eat more plants: Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars.
  • Eat more fish: Include fish at least twice a week. Fish high in omega-3 are preferred.
  • Eat more whole grains: Try to make at least half of your starches whole grains.
  • Reduce saturated fats: Reduce your saturated fats intake to less than 5 to 6 % of your total calories. If you choose to eat meat, look for the leaner cut options. Choose skinless chicken and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Avoid trans fats: Read the ingredient list and avoid products with partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Limit the added sugar: Aim for no more than 35 grams of sugar per day for men and 25 grams for women.
  • Limit your salt: For the general population, the AHA recommends no more than 2,300 mg sodium per day (ask your doctor how much you need.)
  • Limit your alcohol: Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.
    • A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits. 19


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