Routine Health Maintenance for Men
4. Step on the Scale
Three out of four of Americans are overweight or obese. Is fat the new normal? There's an ongoing debate as to just how bad being overweight or obese is for our health. But it's clear that obesity is linked to higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many kinds of cancer.
While the experts debate, start losing weight. "Move more, eat less" is your mantra. You don't need a gym membership to reach your goal of 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Park the car far from the store, take the stairs at work, and walk the dog around the block, and you're almost there.
Almost any diet can work in the short run, but long-term weight loss requires a permanent lifestyle change for most people. Make small changes that you can sustain over time and build on your successes.
5. Get Screened for Colorectal Cancer
Unlike many other forms of cancer, colorectal cancer typically grows for years before spreading. If caught early, it can be cured.
A colonoscopy is a somewhat awkward, slightly embarrassing, and highly effective method of finding colon cancer. Often, polyps that may turn into cancer can be removed during the colonoscopy. Other methods of screening that don't require colonoscopy are also available. Screening begins at age 50, sometimes earlier if you have a family member who had colon cancer.
Unfortunately, 50% to 75% of people don't take advantage of their advantage over colorectal cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2012, about 52,000 deaths will occur from colorectal cancer. Don't be a statistic.
6. Learn About Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer screening is controversial. Using the notorious gloved finger (digital rectal exam), a blood test (prostate specific antigen or PSA) and biopsies if necessary, doctors can detect abnormal growths in the prostate gland early in many men. Sometimes, screening catches prostate cancers, saving men's lives.
But surprisingly, screening hasn't been proven overall to help men survive prostate cancer. That's because screening detects many cancers that, if left alone, would never cause problems. These cancers are nevertheless removed surgically -- leaving some men who might never have died from prostate cancer with side effects such as impotence or incontinence.
The American Cancer Society says men should talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks, and limitations of prostate cancer screening before deciding whether to be tested. The group's guidelines make it clear that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood testing should not occur unless this discussion happens.
The American Urological Association recommends that men ages 55 to 69 who are considering screening should talk with their doctors about the risks and benefits of testing and proceed based on their personal values and preferences. The group also adds:
PSA screening in men under age 40 years is not recommended.
Routine screening in men between ages 40 to 54 years at average risk is not recommended.
To reduce the harms of screening, a routine screening interval of two years or more may be preferred over annual screening in those men who have decided on screening after a discussion with their doctor. As compared to annual screening, it is expected that screening intervals of two years preserve the majority of the benefits and reduce over diagnosis and false positives.
Routine PSA screening is not recommended in men over age 70 or any man with less than a 10-15 year life expectancy.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, however, doesn't recommend routine PSA screening for men in the general population, regardless of age. They say the tests may find cancers that are so slow-growing that medical treatments -- which can have serious side effects -- would offer no benefit.