June is Canadian Men’s Health Month. This initiative was developed to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems in men and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases.
Regardless of sex, most of us are likely to develop a major chronic disease at some stage in our lives. The most common conditions – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and frailty in old age – will eventually plague us all in one way or another. While these diseases generally do not discriminate, men will often have an increased risk of developing chronic diseases in their lifetime. Due to strong social pressures for them to be tough and resilient, countless men continue to neglect their physical and mental health and avoid consulting with a physician for help. Rather than being anxious about our health, it is essential to address problems persistently to ensure that we are staying as healthy as possible and keeping ahead of the curve of chronic disease and old age. During men’s health month this June, we hope to bring awareness to some of the major health issues affecting men around the world.
Although most major health risks affect us all, men are often more likely to engage in unhealthy habits related to smoking, alcohol abuse, and risky health-compromising activities (1). As a result, the average life expectancy of Canadian males today is four years lower than their female counterparts (2). While chronic disease will always continue to be a significant threat to public health, there are many lifestyle factors that we can modify to optimize our health and limit our risk of developing these diseases. Having a proactive approach towards our own health can go a long way in the prevention of disease. At Preventous, our goal is to provide our members with the information, tools, and support system to learn more about their personal wellbeing and make the right decisions to promote a healthy future.
Prostate cancer continues to be a major concern for men’s health
With approximately 1 in 9 men being affected. Although the prevalence in Canadian men is exceptionally high, the disease is often benign, and many individuals can continue to live a healthy life with a prostate cancer diagnosis. While this may be the case for most men, it is essential not to take this issue lightly and properly screen for the cancer, and closely monitor its growth when detected. The most basic action that can be taken for prostate health is to ensure that you visit your doctor annually for a prostate exam and undergo regular blood work to screen for prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) (3), a biomarker that is indicative of irregular prostate function or prostate enlargement. While this is a standard protocol for most males, some cases of prostate cancer are still missed.
Fortunately, an up-and-coming new clinical test using blood-based biomarkers can identify the degree of risk to prostate cancer patients. The 4K test uses standard PSA-based prostate markers along with prostate-specific kallikrein protein to not only detect prostate cancer but also determine the aggressiveness of the cancer (4). This is an extremely valuable tool to inform physicians about when to abstain from treatment and when it is necessary.
Mental or emotional distress
Failure to talk about or express internal emotions can be devastating to our mental health, making it even harder to detect when someone is truly struggling. As a result of emotional suppression, men can sometimes appear angry, irritable, or aggressive compared to females who are often better at expressing their emotions. That is why it is especially important to pay attention to the men in our lives and be on the lookout for signs of mental or emotional distress. One of the most common signs could manifest as someone losing interest in their work or favourite hobbies.
Although it can be daunting, talking to your primary care physician and getting the needed support can be a lifesaver. Sometimes, giving that push of encouragement to your loved ones can be the stimulus they need to go seek help. Depression is a complicated and confusing condition that can be difficult to detect, as there is a wide range of associated symptoms. A major first step in dealing with depression involves seeking help from a mental health professional to talk about and better understand our emotional psychology (6). It is absolutely essential to surround ourselves with supportive friends, family, or even a therapist where we can express our feelings in a safe environment free of judgment. During men’s health month, let’s work together to break down the walls and encourage the men in our lives to speak their minds.
Dr. Rohan Bissoondath,