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Men’s Health Week 2020: A List Of Health Risks Affecting Men

From 15 to 21 June, Men's Health Week is observed to raise awareness on health issues affecting men and to attempt to get men to become aware of health problems they may have or could develop.

The theme for Men's Health Week 2020 is Take Action on Covid-19. The day aims for men to take action to avoid spreading the virus, take action to get the best out of lockdown and the 'new normal' and take action to beat 'underlying conditions'.

Today, we will explore some of the major health concerns or health risks affecting men.

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1. Heart Disease

One of the most common causes of death, heart disease comes in many forms [1]. Although heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, almost twice as many men die of cardiovascular conditions [2].

According to the CDC, one in four men has some form of heart disease and high blood pressure is common in males under the age of 45 [3]. Some of the common heart problems affecting men are arrhythmia, heart failure, congenital heart disease etc. [4].

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2. Lung Cancer

Majorly caused by smoking, lung cancer also occurs in people who never smoked and in those who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in India among men [5].

Besides smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, exposure to asbestos or radon and air pollution can also lead to the development of lung cancer.

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3. Prostate Cancer

One of the most common cancers reported in men, prostate cancer is the second leading type of cancer death in men, after lung cancer [6]. The disease is treatable if found in early stages, however, that can be challenging as prostate cancer can show no symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body [7].

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4. Stroke

A stroke develops when there is an unexpected and sudden interruption in the blood supply. It can develop as a result of heart problems, clogged arteries due to cholesterol and substance abuse [8]. Strokes can vary in intensity, where mini-strokes often do no cause permanent damage and can resolve on their own within 24 hours, severe ones can result in death [9].

The incidence rate of stroke is 1.25 times greater in men than in women [10].

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5. Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders with more than 300 million people in the world are battling depression every day. And, India is the most depressed country in the world; with more than 20 per cent of Indian men who are clinically depressed [11].

Depression can increase one's risk of developing suicidal thoughts and self-harm, urging the importance to get professional help as soon as possible. A study had linked lung cancer to depression, where the several physical signs and symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, weight loss, insomnia, fatigue, and chest pain, can disturb the quality of life and cause depressive disorder [12][13].

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6. Liver Disease

Studies link the common development of liver disease in men to alcohol and tobacco use [14]. Reports point out that men face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisations than women [15].

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Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase your risk for mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, and colon cancer, as well as impotence and erectile dysfunction another common health problem reported in men [16].

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7. Erectile Dysfunction

A frustrating health problem, erectile dysfunction is reported in two-thirds of men older than 70 and up to 39 per cent of 40-year-old men [17]. Men with erectile dysfunction are also reported to be depressed.

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Erectile dysfunction is most often caused by atherosclerosis, which causes heart attacks and strokes and doctors consider erectile dysfunction an early warning sign for cardiovascular disease [18].

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8. Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus or diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce any or enough insulin [19]. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to nerve and kidney damage, heart disease and stroke, and even vision problems.

For men, diabetes can increase the risk of lower testosterone levels, loss of muscle mass and sexual impotence, which in turn leads to depression or anxiety [20]. Though there is no permanent cure for diabetes, it can definitely be kept in check with a mix of a healthy lifestyle, exercise and medication [21].

Some of the other common health problems affecting men are cholesterol, skin cancer, HIV and AIDS [22].

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On A Final Note…

While some of these diseases cannot be prevented, most of them can be. Adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol and avoiding tobacco, and managing your stress levels.

It is important to keep a check on your stress levels because constantly feeling on the edge not only affects your emotional health but also your immunity and thereby, your overall health.

Also, go for regular checkups. It is not necessary that you have to be sick to go to a doctor. Keeping a regular check on your health can help you understand your body well and take the necessary steps to keep it fit and healthy.