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Men's Top 5 Health Concerns

Men die at higher rates than women for all of the top 10 causes of death. Why don't men take better care of their health?

Suicide and Depression

Men are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, reports the MHN, which attributes part of the blame on underdiagnosed depression in men.

William Pollack, PhD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, agrees: "Men are more prone to suicide because they're less likely to openly show depression and have somebody else recognize it early enough to treat it, or to have themselves recognize that they're in trouble."

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 6 million men have depression each year. Pollack believes the number of males with depression could be even greater since men may show signs of depression in a manner different from many women.

Instead of sadness, Pollack says depression may play out in the following ways in men:

  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Work "burnout"
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Midlife crisis
  • Alcohol and substance abuse

"Society around the men and the men themselves see (the male symptoms of depression) as 'just being a guy,' or 'having a hard time,'" says Pollack. "The problem is that if they are signs of depression, and they're getting bad enough, then many of these men are starting to form thoughts that life isn't worth living."

To help men with depression and to reduce the risk of suicide, doctors, loved ones, and men themselves need to recognize that society's model of masculinity -- to ignore pain --can work against men. Looking the other way may trigger depression and thoughts of suicide.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of both men and women, claiming more lives than prostate, colon, and breast cancer combined. In men, there are expected to be about 213, 380 new cases of lung cancer and some 160,390 lung cancer deaths this year.

The good news is that rate of new lung cancer cases has been dropping since the 1980s, and deaths from the cancer have fallen since the 1990s. "That is because of the drop in the prevalence of the use of tobacco products by men that followed the Surgeon General's report in 1964," explains Sener.

Besides smoking, the ACS lists the following as risk factors for lung cancer:

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Exposure to asbestos or radon
  • Personal history
  • Air pollution

Tobacco products are responsible for 90% of lung cancer, which puts the weight of prevention efforts on smoking cessation.

If you're thinking about kicking the habit, Sener recommends the following resources:

  • American Cancer Society: (800) ACS-2345
  • National Cancer Institute Smoking Quitline: (877) 44U-QUIT

According to the National Institute on Aging, as soon as you stop smoking, your chances of getting cancer from smoking begins to shrink, and you can prevent further damage to your lungs.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. It is the second leading type of cancer death in men, after lung cancer.

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