Men’s Health Week: Know Your Numbers

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The third week of June is Men’s Health Week, which is intended to increase the awareness of preventable health problems and to encourage early detection and treatment of disease.

The good news for men is that they’re physiologically predisposed to certain qualities. For starters, their skin tends to thin more gradually over time than for women. Men also tend to have a higher percentage of muscle mass and a lower percentage of body fat, making for a speedier metabolism and an increased ability to lose weight. And with their larger hearts and lungs, exercise might feel a little easier and may result in quicker progress.


Reasons Why Men Are Not Visiting the Doctor:

Now for the bad news: most men dread going to the doctor. Here are the American Heart Association’s top ten reasons why:

  1. They don’t have a doctor.
  2. They don’t have insurance.
  3. There’s probably nothing wrong.
  4. They don’t have time.
  5. They don’t want to spend the money.
  6. They feel doctors don’t really DO anything, just run tests.
  7. They don’t want to hear what might be told.
  8. They’ve got probe-a-phobia.
  9. They would rather tough it out.
  10. Their significant other has been nagging them to get a checkup.

This is a problem because simple screens save lives. The National Library of Medicine states that at certain ages there are specific health screens that are necessary to prevent or detect illness or disease. We’ve broken them down by age…


Screening guidelines for men ages 18-39:

Every year – blood pressure and dental exam
Every two years – eye exam and physical

Other screens for prevention:
Cholesterol – every five years unless you have risk factors
Diabetes – If you have a BMI greater than 25 and have other risk factors


Screening guidelines for men ages 40-64:

Every year – eye exam, dental exam, and regular physical after age of 50
Every two years – blood pressure unless it’s high


Other screens for prevention:

Cholesterol – You should be screened every five years unless you have risk factors
Diabetes – If you are over age 45, you should be screened every three years unless you are overweight with a BMI of 25
Colon Cancer – If you are under 50 you should be screened only if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps, or if you have had inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.
If you are between ages 50-75, you should be screened for colorectal cancer. This may involve:

  • An annual stool test
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 – 10 years along with a stool guaiac test
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

Osteoporosis – If you are between ages 50 and 70 and have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should discuss screening with your provider.
Prostate Cancer – Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their provider. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should discuss screening at age 45.
Lung Cancer – The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who:

  • Have a 30 pack/year smoking history AND
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years

Screening guidelines for men age 65 and older:

Every year – eye exam, dental exam, hearing test, and regular physical
Every two years – blood pressure (unless it’s high)
Every three years – diabetes

Other screens for prevention:
Cholesterol – every five years unless you have risk factors
Colon Cancer – Until age 75, you should have one of the following screening tests:

  • A stool test done every year
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5-10 years, along with a stool guaiac test
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

You may need a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors for colon cancer, such as:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • A personal or family history of cancer of the colon or rectum
  • A history of large growths called adenomas

Osteoporosis – If you are between ages 50 and 70 and have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should discuss screening with your provider.
Prostate Cancer – Screen from physician
Lung Cancer – The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 and 80 years who:

  • Have a 30 pack/year smoking history AND
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening – If you are between ages 65 and 75 and have smoked, you should have an ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms.


More Information

While screening tests may help save lives, other parts of a medical evaluation may just make your life better. Most men encounter declines in their sexual, reproductive or urinary health as they age, but men don’t have to take these changes lying down. For more specialized information, check out UW’s Men’s Health Clinic.

This center has an emphasis on common but very personal conditions that are often associated with hormonal, cardiovascular, neurological, and oncological (cancer) health. These conditions include sexual dysfunction, infertility, prostate enlargement, and other changes in urinary habits. By providing a private clinic where men can have these conditions evaluated and treated, the hope is that men will also become more knowledgeable about, and involved with, their overall health. Learn more about UW Medicine’s Men’s Health Department here.

The Whole U offers many seminars and programs around staying healthy including our upcoming dermatology seminar, the Summer Fitness Challenge, and our various exercise classes offered on campus at noon. Check out The Whole U events here.

Thank you to Dr. Thomas Walsh from UW Medicine for contributing to this article.

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