6 Top Health Threats to Men
What puts a man’s health at risk as he gets older?
Prostate Cancer: A Leading Cancer for Men
This is one health problem men can lay full claim to -- after all, women don't have prostates. A walnut-sized gland behind the penis that secretes fluids important for ejaculation, the prostate is prone to problems as men age.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men other than skin cancer. Close to 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer this year in the U.S.
But while one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, only one in 35 will die from it. "Many prostate cancers are slow-growing and unlikely to spread, while others are aggressive," says Djenaba Joseph, MD, medical officer for cancer prevention at the CDC. "The problem is, we don't have effective tests for identifying which cancers are more dangerous."
Screening for prostate cancer requires a digital rectal exam (the infamous gloved finger) and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA).
But in fact, "Screening has never definitively been shown to reduce the chances of dying from prostate cancer," according to Joseph. That's because screening finds many cancers that would never be fatal, even if undetected. Testing then leads to aggressive treatment of relatively harmless cancers, which causes problems like impotence and incontinence.
Should you get screened for prostate cancer? Some experts say yes, but "the best solution is to see your doctor regularly and talk about your overall risk," says Joseph. "All men should understand the risks and benefits of each approach, whichever you choose."
Depression and Suicide: Men Are at Risk
Depression isn't just a bad mood, a rough patch, or the blues. It's an emotional disturbance that affects your whole body and overall health.
In effect, depression proves the mind-body connection. Brain chemicals and stress hormones are out of balance. Sleep, appetite, and energy level are disturbed. Research even suggests men with depression are more likely to develop heart disease.
Experts previously thought depression affected far more women than men. But that may just be men's tendency to hide depressed feelings, or express them in ways different than women's.