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.
For most men at average risk, screening is started at age 50. However, some doctors recommend that men at higher risk of prostate cancer -- African-American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer -- start screening earlier.
The American Urological Association recommends a first-time test at age 40, with the schedule of follow-up testing to be determined on an individual basis.
If prostate cancer screening is done, it involves a blood test and possibly a prostate exam by your doctor. Whether or not you test is something you and your doctor must decide together.