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6 Top Health Threats to Men

What puts a man’s health at risk as he gets older?
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Cardiovascular Disease: The Leading Men's Health Threat continued...

One in five men and women will die from cardiovascular disease, according to Labarthe. For unclear reasons, though, men's arteries develop atherosclerosis earlier than women's. "Men's average age for death from cardiovascular disease is under 65," he says; women catch up about six years later.

Even in adolescence, girls' arteries look healthier than boys'. Experts believe women's naturally higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) are partly responsible. Men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke:

  • Get your cholesterol checked, beginning at age 25 and every five years.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, if they're high.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Increase your physical activity level to 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or trans fats.

"There's a saying that 'children should know their grandparents,'" says Labarthe. "This is fatal or disabling condition that causes lost family time and working time. But a large number of these events are preventable."

Lung Cancer: Still a Health Threat to Men

Lung cancer is a terrible disease: ugly, aggressive, and almost always metastatic. Lung cancer spreads early, usually before it grows large enough to cause symptoms or even show up on an X-ray. By the time it's found, lung cancer is often advanced and difficult to cure. Less than half of men are alive a year later.

So ... are you still smoking?

Tobacco smoke causes 90% of all lung cancers. Thanks to falling smoking rates in the U.S., fewer men than ever are dying of lung cancer. But lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in men: more than enough to fill the Superdome every year.

No effective screening test for lung cancer is available, although a major study is going on to learn if CT scans of the chests of high-risk people can catch cancer early enough to improve survival.

Quitting smoking at any age reduces the risk for lung cancer. Few preventive measures are as effective -- or as challenging -- as stopping smoking. But new tools are available that work to help men quit. Your doctor can tell you more.

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Which of these conditions concerns you most?