OP-ED: Men's Health Month
By: Mrs. Brenda Fleischmann
June is Men's Health Month
In June, we celebrate Father’s Day and Men’s Health Month. We can honor the men in our lives not only on Father’s Day but also throughout this entire year by sharing with them critical information on wellness, disease prevention and early detection.
One of the top health issues facing men is cancer. Men have a one in two chance of developing cancer in their lifetimes compared to one in three for women. In the state of Tennessee alone, about 236 per every 100,000 males die annually from cancer. But some of the most common cancers in men, including lung, prostate, colorectal and liver cancers, are often preventable or detectable early, when treatment may be more successful.
Lung: The good news is that the death rate from lung cancer has dropped 43 percent in men since 1990 thanks in part to reduced smoking rates. But lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. Smoking is linked to 90 percent of lung cancer cases, but exposure to air pollution or secondhand smoke, or a family history of the disease can also increase risk. Low-dose CT screening of smokers with 30-year pack histories (for example, two packs of cigarettes per day for 15 years) can help find lung cancer earlier.
Prostate: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, behind only skin cancer. African-American men are particularly at-risk for prostate cancer, with a death rate more than double that of any other racial or ethnic group. While age, race and family history are risk factors of prostate cancer that cannot be changed, men can take charge of their health and reduce prostate cancer risk by maintaining a healthy weight, never smoking (or quitting) and exercising regularly. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing may help detect prostate cancer early, but men should discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their health care professional.
Colorectal: More than 70,000 men will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017. Risk factors include age, a history of smoking, being overweight or obese, excessive alcohol consumption, eating a lot of red or processed meats and a personal or family history of colorectal polyps, colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease). Screening can help find colorectal cancer earlier, when treatment is more successful, or with some methods, prevent it by finding and removing pre-cancerous growths.
Liver: Liver cancer is three times more common in men than women, with an estimated 29,000 men expected to be diagnosed and nearly 20,000 expected to die of the disease in the U.S. this year. Risk factors include obesity, drinking alcohol in excess, using tobacco or having the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus. Limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and practicing safe sex can reduce risk. A hepatitis B vaccine is available for those who are at risk, and there is testing and treatment available for hepatitis C.
Share this information with the men in your life and encourage them to schedule appointments with their health care professionals and discuss what cancer screenings are best for them. To learn more about cancer prevention and wellness, visit www.preventcancer.org.
Brenda Fleischmann is a member of the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program and the spouse of U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.