Every year about this time, you may see your male relatives, friends and coworkers sporting facial hair no matter how ridiculous it may look. When someone tells you it’s for “Movember,” your first thought might be “What is Movember?” Movember is an annual event where men grow mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness for men's health issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men's suicide.
Movember also aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Movember is also known as “No-Shave November.” The idea of forgoing shaving and grooming for a month is designed to evoke conversation about men’s health issues and raise cancer awareness.
Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of their family history of cancer and to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Let’s look at some of the biggest health issues men face and how to prevent them or get them diagnosed early.
Men’s Top Health Concerns
The average man pays less attention to his health than the average woman. Compared to women, men are more likely to drink alcohol and use tobacco, make risky choices, and not see a doctor for regular checkups.
The good news is that many of the leading causes of death among men can be prevented. Here are some of the top health concerns men face and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Heart Disease
Although heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, almost twice as many males die of conditions that affect the cardiovascular system. To prevent heart disease, eating a predominantly plant-based diet, exercising and not smoking are always to prevent it. There are a number of ways to screen for heart disease, including getting your calcium score or taking a chemical stress test.
Stroke is the third leading killer in the country, after heart disease and all forms of cancer. The incidence rate of stroke is 1.25 times greater in men than in women, although there is really no difference between the sexes as people get older, according to the American Stroke Association. Adopting many of the healthy habits that will decrease your risk for heart disease will also lower your chances of having a stroke. Ultrasound scans are already being used to screen for cardiovascular disease, but you should focus on conditions that cause or contribute to a narrowing of your arteries including diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and obesity.
3. Suicide and Depression
Men are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, reports the Mental Health Network, which attributes part of the blame on underdiagnosed depression in men. Signs of depression in men can include sadness, anger, aggressive behavior and sometimes substance abuse. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
4. 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 around 160,390 lung cancer deaths this year. The single best way to avoid lung cancer is not to smoke. The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (also called a low-dose CT scan).
5. 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. There’s no sure way to prevent prostate cancer, but you may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by making healthy choices, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet.
What You Can Do
During Movember, women can also get involved by being physically active or by hosting a fundraising event. Not only do these commitments raise money, but they also generate conversations. Awareness and fundraising activities are run year-round by the Movember Foundation. It is the only global charity focused solely on men’s health.
Getting men to take action for their health is not always easy. If you’d like to take better control of your health, talk to your doctor. You can also download our guide: “The Most Concerning Health Issues for Older Adults.” Inside you’ll learn how to decrease your risk for many health concerns as you age.