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Calling All Men: Your Health is Your Wealth

Publication: Austin Medical Times, Houston Medical Times, Palestine Herald-Press

For some, summer is a time to take it easy and have some fun. That can mean consuming more sweet or alcoholic beverages and rich foods at barbeques, and spending time in the sun lounging by the pool with less time in the gym.

However, no matter the time of year, we can all use encouragement when it comes to our health. June is National Men’s Health Month, which highlights unique health and wellness challenges as well as helpful advice for men on behaviors that ideally should be adopted year-round.

How lifestyle can put men at risk for cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, one in two men will develop some form of cancer in his lifetime, and one in five will die from cancer. Factors such as genetics, aging, and lifestyle have been linked to many types of cancer. While men cannot change their genes nor prevent growing older, they can change certain behaviors that may put them at a greater cancer risk.

Lifestyle changes for men that can help prevent cancer include:

  • Not smoking

  • Avoiding UV radiation and protecting skin when outdoors

  • Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight

  • Moderating alcohol consumption

  • Cutting down intake of red meat and processed foods

  • Consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

  • Being physically active regularly, up to 150 minutes per week

  • Knowing family history of cancer and discussing this with your physician

  • Getting regular checkups and health screenings as appropriate for age and family history

Less familiar forms of cancer affecting men

Men are aware of the cancers that affect them most such as prostate, colorectal, lung, and skin. However, there are other less familiar cancers that are becoming more prevalent in men including bladder, kidney, and esophageal cancer. Awareness is key to early detection and ensuring men adopt healthy habits to lower their risk.  

Bladder Cancer

The fourth most common cancer in men, approximately 62,420 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in men in the United States in 2023 per the American Cancer Society. Bladder cancer occurs mainly in older individuals, with the average age of diagnosis around 73. Certain risk factors like smoking, exposure to certain industrial chemicals, or not drinking enough fluids can contribute to the development of bladder cancer. The chance men will develop this cancer during their lifetime is about 1 in 28.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is twice as common in men than women, according to the American Cancer Society, with more than 52,300 men to be diagnosed in the United States in 2023. Rare in people younger than 45, the average age of diagnosis is between 65 and 74. Risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, race, use of certain medicines, and exposure to environmental toxins. Symptoms vary by patient, with some having little to no symptoms in the early stages, or blood in the urine and flank pain at later stages.

Esophageal Cancer

Men are three to four times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than women. In Texas, an estimated 1,350 new esophageal cancer cases are anticipated in 2023, and 1,010 Texans are expected to die. According to the Texas Department of State Health and Human Services, the highest incidence rate of esophageal cancer is in males living in rural areas. The seventh most common cause of cancer death among men, risk factors for esophageal cancer include smoking, alcohol use, and obesity as well as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which occurs when stomach acid flows up to the esophagus.

If you – or the men in your life – aren’t making health a priority, consider this National Men's Health Month a great time to get on track. Set up an appointment with your healthcare provider and be sure to schedule important annual screenings. Pay attention to your body and incorporate healthy habits every day. As the saying goes, “your health is your wealth.”

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