Whether you or a loved one has it or had it, everyone knows that cancer is a terrible experience to endure. With Men’s Health Week coming up June 15 through 21 (the week leading up to Father’s Day), it’s a good time to talk about cancers that uniquely affect men, what causes them, and – most importantly – ways to go about preventing them.
Cancer affects more than 700,000 men every year and kills approximately 300,000. Currently, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer are the most common cancers among men, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In fact, prostate cancer affects more than 128 out of every 100,000 men. Lung cancer – the most fatal cancer to men – kills nearly 58 out of every 100,000 men.
While these statistics can be depressing and frightening when taken on their own, there is some good news: many cancers are preventable or treatable, especially when some fairly simple precautions are taken and when they are detected early.
According to the Men’s Health Resource Center, if any of the following are true, you stand a higher risk of developing cancer:
- You smoke (cigarettes, pipes, or cigars) or chew tobacco
- You drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day
- You get little or no exercise
- You eat a high-fat, low-fiber diet
- You have a family history of cancer
- You have had cancer in the past
- You are 55 or older
- You are African-American
As you can see, making positive changes to exercise and diet in addition to modifying other lifestyle choices – like reducing or quitting drinking, smoking, or chewing – can help reduce your risk for cancer. Some risk factors – like age or medical history – can’t necessarily be controlled, which is why health experts also suggest regular medical check-ups and having a discussion with your doctor about your individual risk profile.
Of course, cancer is not the only disease that uniquely affects men, and it is just one of many health issues addressed during Men’s Health Week. For example, heart disease, HIV, and Alzheimer’s are all very important health topics for men that require a heightened level of attention and increased awareness. Ultimately, “The purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys,” according to the Men’s Health website.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, September 2). Cancer among men. CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/data/men.htm
Men’s Health Network. (2015). Cancers. Men’s Health Resource Center. Retrieved from https://www.menshealthresourcecenter.com/cancers/
Men’s Health Network. (2014). National men’s health week: Awareness. Prevntion. Education. Family. Men’s Health Month. Retrieved from https://www.menshealthmonth.org/week/index.html