Studies show that men are less likely to pay attention to their health than women | Healthier together
June is Men’s Health Month. Dr. James Polo sees it as an opportunity to promote education, awareness and for men to take charge of their overall health.
PORTLAND, Ore. — While men are susceptible to illnesses that can affect anyone, like heart disease, stroke, depression and cancer, studies have shown they’re also less likely to pay attention to their health than the average woman.
“Culturally, men tend to neglect their health,” said Dr. James Polo, executive medical director of Oregon’s Regence BlueCross BlueShield. “They tend to assume they’re fine. They tend to wait until they actually have a problem rather than taking care of themselves ahead of time.
Polo sees Men’s Health Month as an opportunity not only to educate men about their own health, but also to make sure they take control of their health. That, he says, starts with your doctor’s annual visit.
“These annual reviews are really important,” he said. “First, there are key symptoms that you can develop that you won’t know you have unless checked out,” he said.
RELATED: No, Sudden Adult Death Syndrome Is Not Linked To Vaccines
For example, blood pressure. Rising blood pressure is an early symptom of potential heart disease, but you won’t know it because you won’t feel it, Polo said.
High cholesterol and high blood sugar are also signs of bigger problems, but you won’t necessarily experience them as a symptom.
“So unless you get those things checked out, you won’t really know that you might have early symptoms where treatments make all the difference,” Polo said.
Annual exams also include cancer screenings for things like colon and prostate cancers, which if caught early can be treated.
“One of the things about cancer these days is that if we can identify it early, more often than not, you can actually cure it,” Polo said. “But if you wait and miss that early diagnosis, sometimes it progresses far enough that you can’t quite cure it.”
Statistics show that, compared to women, men are more likely to drink alcohol and smoke, and to make risky choices. However, many of the health risks that men face can be avoided through a healthy lifestyle, according to Dr. Polo.
This means exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, reducing stress, and keeping alcohol consumption moderate.
RELATED: Impact of climate change on youth mental health examined in OHA report
“Part of the challenge is that very often people don’t maintain consistency of attending exercise over time,” Polo said.
Men need about 150 minutes of exercise per week. That’s 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, Polo said.
As for a healthy diet, he suggests cutting out fried and processed foods. Eat moderate amounts of red meat and add more poultry and fish instead. Eat whole grains and eat lots of vegetables. Also, limit the amount of alcohol you drink daily. For men, it’s no more than two drinks a day, if at all.