Men's Health - Thinking you're invincible is no longer an option
19 Jun 2019
South Africa, June 2019 - As we enter into Men's Health awareness month this June, it is important to highlight some of the most common health risks that men may face as they navigate through life. The inescapable reality is that men, and particularly younger men, and society in general are increasingly becoming more prone to diseases that were either rare or thought to be associated with older ages, such as cancer, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and diabetes, psychiatric [mental disorders] illnesses and heart disease. Higher levels of alcohol and tobacco use, coupled with poor lifestyle choices put men at an increased risk for these diseases.
Dr Thabani Nkwanyana, Liberty Lead Specialist Medical Officer says, "Allowing our male egos to fool us into thinking that we're invincible is simply no longer an option. While there are cancers that affect all genders such as skin, bladder, lung and colorectal cancers, men are also prone to prostate cancer, which receives a lot of public awareness during the month of November. In addition to this, testicular cancer, penile cancer and even male breast cancer are some of the less common, but severe cancers in men."
Drinking alcohol increases the risk for mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver and colon cancers, whilst tobacco use is responsible for a myriad of cancers. Both alcohol and tobacco use also interferes with testicular function and hormone production.
Liberty's Claim Statistics reveal the top five causes of cancer in men
- 32.3% of claims in men were for Prostate Cancer
- 14.3% for Colon and Rectal
- 13.1% for Lung
- 11.1% for Skin
- 5.4% for Gastro-intestinal
Dr Nkwanyana explains, "Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Medical screenings find diseases early, before you have symptoms, when they're easier to treat. With early detection, prostate or testicular cancer can be nipped in the bud."
Men are not only at risk of contracting cancer
According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 men in the world have a form of cardiovascular disease, with an estimated 2.8 million men experiencing stroke each year. The top five causes of cardiovascular conditions in men according to Liberty's Claim Statistics for 2018 include:
- 48.0% of claims for Coronary artery disease
- 36.3% for Heart attack
- 4.5% for Arrhythmia
- 4.5% for Valvular heart disease and septal disease of heart
- 2.7% for Disease of the aorta
Dr Nkwanyana says, "Studies have shown that a healthy, active lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. An active lifestyle will also help you avoid obesity and other weight problems that are associated with heart health issues."
Diabetes has also become a huge problem for men, with a unique set of complications, such as risk for sexual impotence, and lower testosterone levels which can lead to depression and anxiety. As much as there is high genetic risk for developing diabetes, the prevalence of the disease is largely influenced by the lifestyle.
How to take charge of your health
Understanding health risk is one thing; taking action to reduce risks is another aspect. So this Men's Health Awareness month, start looking at your lifestyle and take charge of your health by making better lifestyle choices:
- Don’t smoke, and if you do ask your doctor to help you quit
- Avoid alcohol, and if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. That means up to 2 drinks a day for men age 65 and younger, and 1 drink a day for men older than 65.
- Eat a healthy diet, consisting of lean sources of protein and high fibre, and fresh fruits and vegetables
- Get moving with exercise and maintain a healthy weight
- Take steps to reduce stress
- Don't avoid your doctor
Dr Nkwanyana concludes, "In a nutshell, a healthy lifestyle consists of a balance of healthy eating, regular exercise, proper sleep and avoiding bad habits such as smoking or excessive drinking. Regular visits to your doctor for your health screenings will also ensure that you identify risks early and increase your chances of surviving a critical illness diagnosis."
Liberty Group Ltd is a Registered Long-Term Insurer and an Authorised Financial Services Provider (FAIS no 2409)