Updated: Sep 7
June is National Men’s Health Month and it’s the perfect time to discuss routine tests/screens for men’s health and the importance of preventative medicine for men. In the past few years, there has been a growing movement to prioritize men’s health as a valid area of concern in the health care field.
The women’s health movement over the past decade has been incredibly effective in increasing awareness of women’s health issues and men need to follow their lead and step up. Many men in the United States know little about preventative medicine and when to get certain screening examinations. The tests/screens discussed below are the general recommendations for men.
Prevention means “decrease risk of occurrence for a particular disease”. Many of these tests/screens are accessing your risk for a particular disease. Today in the United States, heart disease is the number 1 killer and 1/3 of US adults are pre-diabetic or diabetic. These staggering statistics are something the field of medicine needs to improve upon vastly. Focusing on preventative medicine and receiving proper screening will help reduce your risk of becoming one of these statistics.
Preventative Tests/Screens for Men’s Health
BMI stands for body mass index and an elevated BMI means you’re at an increased risk for numerous diseases and health conditions. BMI is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. There are numerous BMI calculators online to determine your BMI for free. I like to use the online calculator from Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/bmi-calculator/ITT-20084938.
Underweight: < 18.5
Healthy Weight: 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight: 25.0 – 29.9
Overweight and Obese BMI readings are related with the following:
Increased mortality (all causes of death)
High blood pressure
If your BMI falls into this category, then it is vital you seek medical care for optimal preventative care. Seeking support from your local naturopathic doctor is a great option as naturopathic doctors focus on preventative medicine.
If you are 35 or older, you should get your cholesterol checked every year. Elevated cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Elevated blood pressure increases your risks of getting heart and/or kidney disease. If you have no history of elevated blood pressure, you should get your blood pressure checked every 2 years. Once an elevated blood pressure is found, it’s important to work with your doctor to keep it properly managed.
Beginning at the age of 50, a test is recommended to screen for colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, then age 40 is the time to start screens.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among men in the USA. It’s usually found in older men and occurs more often in African Americans than white males. Risk factors associated with prostate cancer include:
50 years of age or older
Family history of prostate cancer
Drinking alcoholic beverages
Currently, there is no standard for a routine screening for prostate cancer and different methods are currently being studied. The 2 most commonly studied screenings include a digital rectal exam and a PSA test. Starting these screenings at age 50 is a common recommendation if there is no family history of prostate cancer. If there is a family history of prostate cancer, age 40 is a common recommendation to start screening.
1/3 of US adults are either diabetic or pre-diabetic. Screening for diabetes is important for individuals who are overweight or have a history of high blood pressure. Diabetes can cause problems with your heart, kidneys, eyes, feet, brain, nerves, and other body parts and body functions. Classic red flags suggesting an individual needs to be screened include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurry vision. Risks factors for pre-diabetes include:
High blood pressure
Naturopathic Medicine and Men’s Health
Naturopathic medicine combines the use of holistic therapies with modern science to achieve optimal health. Naturopathic doctors often educate and focus on preventative medicine with their patients.
Most individuals know preventative medicine is important, but very few men actually seek care for preventative medicine. Unfortunately, in this country for whatever reason, seeking medical help for symptoms is often believed to be a sign of weakness and not masculine. In today’s society, men are taught at a very young age to be tough. Toughness is a very admirable quality in a man, but often perceived toughness can prevent a man from seeking optimal health care.
Health care today must include preventative medicine to achieve optimal health. Fewer preventative health care visits are linked to a lower life expectancy in men. Our society needs to be in support of proper preventative care for all men. Celebrating and spreading awareness of Men’s Health Month is a great start. Naturopathic medicine focuses on lifestyle changes, education, and awareness to address important measures pertaining to preventative health. Passing along the general recommendations stated above is a great first step to spreading awareness for important health tips for men. Contact me at The Bodhi Clinic to schedule a consultation today.