Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Health Concerns.
Men's Top 5 Health Concerns
How Can I Prevent Heart Disease?
How Can I Prevent a Stroke?
Preventing Prostate Cancer
How Can I Prevent Lung Cancer?
Penis Spots, Lumps, and Rashes
Is Depression in Men Different Than in Women?
Why is Depression Different in Men?
Can Depression in Men Be Treated?
Special Consideration -- Bereavement
Processed Meat May Kill You, Study Finds
Stool Color - What Is Normal and What You Should Be Concerned About
Men's Top 5 Health Concerns
1. How Can I Prevent Heart Disease?
To stabilize both blood pressure and cholesterol levels and to keep your weight in check, try to eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains and fewer foods that are salty, high in fat, or fried.
If you feel you are at risk, ask your doctor about taking an aspirin a day to prevent heart attack.
Sources: Myers, R., Heart Disease: Everything You Need to Know, Firefly Books Ltd, 2004. Verheugt, F.; Tonkin, A., "Artherosclerosis and Heart Disease," Taylor & Francis Group; 1st edition, 2003. WebMD Medical reference provided in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic: "Heart Disease."
2. How Can I Prevent a Stroke?
Measures that reduce the chances of stroke are the same as those for avoiding heart attack. Adopt habits that promote cardiovascular health and deter atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The essentials of a healthy lifestyle include eating foods that are low in fat, salt, and cholesterol; exercising regularly; controlling weight; monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels; limiting alcohol; and not smoking.
A few other tips to prevent stroke:
If your risk of stroke is high because of severe atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or a history of heart disease, TIAs or previous strokes - you should see a doctor regularly. When clot stroke is the indicated danger, your doctor may advise an aspirin a day to thin blood and prevent the formation of blood clots. If you have diabetes, keep it under control, since it increases your risk of stroke.
For people who have partial obstruction of a carotid artery the artery in the neck that provides blood supply to the brain a surgery called a carotid endarterectomy may be an option to prevent a stroke or TIA. This procedure involves the removal of fat and plaque buildup from these arteries.
If diagnosed early, because of warning signs of a problem, a carotid aneurysm can be repaired, preventing a possible stroke.
Sources: World Health Organization. Silbergleit, R, "Thrombolysis for Acute Stroke: The Incontrovertible, the Controvertible, and the Uncertain," Academy of Emergency Medicine, 2005 Apr;12(4):348-51. Braunwld, E. (editor); et al, Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine 16th Edition, McGraw-Hill Professional, July 23, 2004. Bendixen B.; Ocava L., "Evaluation and Management of Acute Ischemic Stroke," Current Cardiology Report 2002 Mar;4(2):149-57. Berger C.; Schramm P.; Schwab S., "Reduction of Diffusion-weighted MRI Lesion Volume After Early Moderate Hypothermia in Ischemic Stroke," Stroke. 2005 June;36(6):e56-8. Roy, M.; Ray, A., "Effect of body temperature on mortality of acute stroke," Journal of Association of Physicians of India. 2004 Dec;52:959-61. www.webmd.com/solutions/sc/mens-top-health-concerns/stroke
3. Preventing Prostate Cancer
To date, no evidence proves that prostate cancer can be prevented. However, you may be able to lower your risk.
A low-fat diet that consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, and grains may help reduce your risk for prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting high-fat foods from animal sources. Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Healthy food choices also include bread, cereals, rice, pasta, and beans.
Substances in foods, especially fruits and vegetables, called antioxidants help prevent damage to the DNA in the body's cells. Such damage has been linked to disease, including cancer. Lycopenes, in particular, are antioxidants that have been linked to lower risk of prostate cancer. They are in foods such as tomatoes (raw or cooked), spinach, artichoke hearts, beans, berries (especially blueberries), pink grapefruit and oranges, and watermelons. Read more about antioxidant-rich vegetables and beans and fruits.
In some hospitals, clinical trials are underway to look at various "chemoprevention" protocols designed to lower the prostate cancer risk. So far, it's too soon to know if there are any new ways to prevent prostate cancer.
Using vitamin supplements may affect your risk of prostate cancer. Some studies show that taking vitamin E may lower your risk of prostate cancer whereas other studies show no effect on cancer risk. Taking selenium may also lower your risk. There is currently a large ongoing study to evaluate if either of these supplements can provide protection from prostate cancer.
Before taking any supplements it is advisable to first talk with your doctor. In some hospitals, clinical trials are underway to look at various "chemoprevention" protocols designed to lower the prostate cancer risk. So far, it's too soon to know if there are any new ways to prevent prostate cancer.
Studies of men taking the drug Proscar have shown they were about 25% less likely to develop prostate cancer when compared to those taking a placebo. Proscar is currently used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Results of these findings revealed that taking Proscar was associated with an increased risk of sexual side effects and prostate cancers that had a tendency to be more aggressive (higher grade). At this time, it is not certain if it is beneficial to take Proscar to prevent prostate cancer.
Not all medical institutions and advocacy groups agree on when men should be screened (routinely tested) for prostate cancer. But, as is the case with most other types of cancer, early detection often means more treatment options are available and less extensive treatment is necessary.
Doctors at The Cleveland Clinic recommend the following screening guidelines:
Source: American Cancer Society, www.webmd.com/solutions/sc/mens-top-health-concerns/prostate-cancer
4. How Can I Prevent Lung Cancer?
Don't smoke. Breaking the tobacco habit may be difficult, but it can be done. While preparing yourself to quit, cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke daily. Many people report that stopping cigarette smoking "cold turkey" is more effective than gradually tapering off. Joining a support group may help you maintain your resolve to quit.
If you live or work with smokers, encourage them to quit and ask them not to smoke around you. If you are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals at work, take necessary safety measures to limit inhalation.
Sources: National Cancer Institute. National Institutes of Health. WebMD Medical Reference from the American College of Physicians: "Section 12 VIII Lung Cancer." www.webmd.com/solutions/sc/mens-top-health-concerns/lung-cancer
5. Is Depression in Men Different Than in Women?
Every year, depression affects more that 19 million Americans, but men account for only about one in 10 diagnosed cases. Because of this, depression was once considered a "woman's disease," linked to hormones and premenstrual syndrome. The lingering stereotype of depression being a female condition may prevent some men from recognizing its symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment.
In reality, depression affects both sexes, disrupting relationships and interfering with work and daily activities. The symptoms of depression are similar for both men and women, but they tend to be expressed differently. The most common symptoms of depression include low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, apathy and sexual problems, including reduced sex drive.
There are several reasons why the symptoms of depression in men are not commonly recognized:
For these reasons, many men -- as well as doctors and other healthcare professionals -- fail to recognize the problem as depression. Some mental healthcare professionals suggest that if the symptoms of depression were expanded to include anger, blame, lashing out and abuse of alcohol, more men might be diagnosed with depression and treated appropriately.
Depression in men can have devastating consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that men in the U.S. are about four times more likely than women to commit suicide. A staggering 75-80% of all people who commit suicide in the U.S. are men. Though more women attempt suicide, more men are successful at actually ending their lives. This may be due to the fact that men tend to use more lethal methods of committing suicide, for example using a gun rather than taking an overdose.
Why is Depression Different in Men?
Understanding how men in our society are brought up to behave is particularly important in identifying and treating their depression. Depression in men often can be traced to cultural expectations. Men are supposed to be successful. They should restrain their emotions. They must be in control. These cultural expectations can mask some of the true symptoms of depression, forcing men to express aggression and anger (viewed as more acceptable "tough guy" behavior) instead.
In addition, men generally have a harder time dealing with the stigma of depression. They tend to deal with their symptoms with a macho attitude or by drinking alcohol. This attitude still pervades many male-dominated institutions, such as the military and athletics, where men are taught that "toughness" means putting up with physical pain and admitting to emotional distress is taboo. Rather than seek help, which means admitting to what they perceive as a weakness, men are more likely to deal with their depression by drinking heavily or committing suicide.
Special Consideration -- Bereavement
Men also tend to deal with the loss of a loved one differently than women. This may also be related to their belief that men must be strong in the face of adversity, and that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. Men tend to assume full responsibility for their bereavement and suppress their grief. Studies show that this suppression can increase the time it takes to grieve and lead to complications such as escalating anger, aggressiveness and substance abuse. Physical symptoms may include increased cholesterol levels, ulcers, high blood pressure, and pain.
Because they feel unable to openly express their feelings, many men deal with grief by taking on more activities -- such as working overtime or going on business trips -- to occupy their time. They may become involved in risk-taking behavior, such as dangerous sports or compulsive sexual activity. Some addictive behaviors, such as over consumption of alcohol or other drug abuse, can escalate as the result of suppressed grief.
Can Depression in Men Be Treated?
More than 80% of people with depression -- both men and women -- can be treated successfully with antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.
Source: Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology. www.webmd.com/solutions/sc/mens-top-health-concerns/depression
Source Overall: www.webmd.com/solutions/sc/mens-top-health-concerns
Penis Spots, Lumps, and Rashes
Multiple tiny nodules beneath the skin of the scrotum and at the base of the shaft of the penis are normal hair follicles. These nodules are all similar to each other in appearance.
Small dome-shaped or jagged bumps around the crown of the head (or glans) of the penis are probably pearly penile papules. They appear in about 10-20% of all men, and are likely more common in uncircumcised men than in circumcised men. Pearly penile papules (the medical name is "angiofibromas") are not infectious and require no treatment.
Small red or purple spots with a thick, warty surface are probably angiokertomas. They appear on the glans shaft or scrotum. Most often, they appear on the scrotum of elderly men, though they may be solitary and they may appear in young men. These spots -- known as angiokertomas of fordyce -- are not infectious and require no treatment.
If angiokertomas involve the entire bathing suit area of a child, they may indicate anderson-fabry disease, which results from an enzyme deficiency and requires medical evaluation.
A small, pea-sized nodule on the scrotum, sometimes filled with a cheesy or chalky material, is probably a cyst. Scrotal cysts may be solitary or multiple. They are not infectious and require no treatment, though some men may choose to have them surgically removed.
Red patches with a well defined border may indicate psoriasis. These patches may be scaly or smooth and may arise from the friction caused by masturbation or sexual intercourse. Typically, psoriasis of the penis responds to treatment with a steroid cream. Psoriasis is not infectious.
Very small shiny pink bumps on the glans may be lichen planus. Sometimes the papules have fine scales and sometimes they are smooth. They often appear in a ring or in a line. They may or may not be itchy. Similar lesions may appear on other areas of the body, especially the wrists and shins. Lichen planus is not infectious or harmful, but it does respond to medical treatment. Most cases resolve on their own within a year.
Pink-brown or skin-colored bumps with a moist surface may be genital warts, which are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Genital warts may have a smooth surface or a surface with a cauliflower appearance. They may appear anywhere on the male genitals, the thighs, the pubis (the area just above the base of the penile shaft) or the lower abdomen. Genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted disease. They require medical treatment because of their cancer-causing potential in women.
A single, round and painless ulcer of the penis or scrotum may indicate primary syphilis. The ulcer of primary syphilis typically self-resolves a few weeks after it appears. However, the disease persists in the bloodstream and may be passed on to a sexual partner. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease requiring medical attention. It may cause serious complications if left untreated.
A painless irregular, non-healing genital ulcer might be penile cancer. Penile cancer most often appears on the foreskin or glans. Squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of penile cancer, occurs more frequently in uncircumcised men. Cancer is not infectious, but it does require medical treatment. When treated early, most penile cancers can be cured.
A cluster of small blisters that evolve into painful ulcers may be herpes simplex. The first episode is often associated with severe pain and a feverish illness, while recurrences may be milder. Herpes is the most common cause of genital ulceration. It is highly infectious and usually transmitted sexually.
Small dome-shaped bumps with a central depression on the penis, scrotum, inner thighs or pubis may be molloscum contagiosum. This is a harmless and common viral disease in children. In adults, it is most commonly spread through sexual contact. The infection is self-limited (lasting months to years) and is not harmful. Nonetheless, many men elect medical treatment to reduce the risk of transmission, to decrease the likelihood of spreading the rash on their own skin and for cosmetic reasons.
Itchy red rash with swelling of the glans may be balanitis. The term "balanitis" simply refers to inflammation of the glans. Being uncircumcised and having poor hygiene are both risk factors for this condition, but balanitis may result from other causes -- both infectious and non-infectious. It requires medical treatment.
The list above is not exhaustive. Self diagnosis of spots, lumps
or rashes is not a good idea and sometimes a proper diagnosis can
only be made with clinical tests. As with all genital signs and
symptoms, seek medical advice and practice safe sex.
Sources: American Academy of Dermatology. "Genital Warts". cancer.org "What Is Penile Cancer?". psoriasis.org "Treating psoriasis: genitals". menshealth.about.com/od/diseasesconditions/a/penis_spots.htm
Vitamin A (retinol)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 3,000 International Units (IU) for men; 2,330 IU for women. Limit: 5,000 IU
This vitamin helps maintain healthy teeth, bones, skin, vision and mucous membranes. But too much can work in the opposite direction, causing reduced bone density and osteoporosis, hair loss and liver problems. Excessive amounts of vitamin A during early pregnancy (over 10,000 IU) was linked to birth defects in a Boston University School of Medicine study. Ironically, vitamin A deficiency also causes birth defects.
Foods: Red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables.
RDA: 1.3 mg. Limit: 100 mg
Your nervous and immune systems depend on vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine. And if you're a big meat eater, listen up: The more protein you consume, the more B6 you need to use that protein. (Sidenote: Higher doses of B6 also benefit those who abuse alcohol). Studies suggest that excessive amounts may cause damage to the nervous system, specifically to the arms and legs. It is, however, reversible when dosage drops, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Foods: Baked potato for the vegetarians, pork loin or roast beef for the omnivores.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
RDA: 400 mcg. Limit: 1,000 mcg
Folate occurs naturally in food; folic acid is found in vitamins and fortified food. The specific role of both, among many benefits, is to make and maintain healthy blood. Nausea, insomnia and abdominal distension are typical symptoms of overdose. Excess folic acid can also mask signs of B12 deficiency, including anemia.
Foods: Fortified breakfast cereals, blackeye peas and spinach.
RDA: 90 mg for men; 75 mg for women. Limit: 2,000 mg
Can there be too much of a good thing? According to some, including Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, no. His eponymous institute recommends at least 400 mg of vitamin C each day in order to best to take advantage of its antioxidant and common cold-fighting properties, among others. However much you decide to take, toxicity is very rare; the body cannot store the vitamin. However, amounts greater than 2,000 mg daily are not recommended by the National Academy of Sciences because it can can lead to indigestion, diarrhea and GI discomfort. Diabetics, pregnant women and others who are testing for blood sugar levels should also be wary of ingesting high doses.
Foods: Kiwifruit, parsley and blackcurrant all have more vitamin C than oranges
RDA: 400 IU. Limit: 2,000 IU
It's claimed that as little as 10 minutes of UV-B sunlight daily offers the recommended level of vitamin D. But for many of us, including black people and those with darker skin pigments, a little dietary help is in order. Unfortunately, this vitamin best known for building strong bones and fighting rickets and osteoporosis, is naturally found in few foods. So it's really all about balancing any supplements with fortified foods and drinks. Unlike water soluble vitamins like vitamin C, that simple pass through the urine, vitamin D is fat soluble and isn't removed as easily. More than 2,000 IU daily can lead to too much calcium in the blood or hypercalcemia, which can lead to kidney stones and kidney damage.
Food: Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, plus fortified milk and energy bars.
RDA: 15 IU. Limit: 400 IU
An antioxidant, vitamin E has long enjoyed a reputation for benefits to cardiovascular health, cancer and hot flashes due to low estrogen. Recently, though, it has come under suspicion and attack as having "no proven clinical benefits," according to the Annals of Internal Medicine. Separate studies have linked excessive vitamin E intake to an increased risk of all-cause mortality, congestive heart failure and increased bleeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that over 11 percent of Americans consume in excess of 400 IU.
Food sources: Vegetables oils, including wheat germ, safflower and corn oil.
RDA: None. Limit: None (not enough studies)
Although research is still underway, beta-carotene is thought to help boost the immune system and prevent heart disease and a number of cancers, and is especially powerful against leukemia. Consuming toxic levels of beta-carotene only occurs in very rare circumstances, but can lead to increased risk for heart disease and a temporary yellowing of the skin. Research shows that people who smoke and take high levels of beta-carotene supplements may be more susceptible to lung cancer.
Foods: Spinach and carrots for the veggie lovers; for those with a sweet tooth, go for apricots or cantaloupes.
RDA: 1,000 mg. Limit: 2,500 mg
Calcium has one of the most important job in your body. Ninety-nine percent of our body's calcium is stored in our bones and teeth to support and maintain their structure. The remainder is found in the blood, muscles and fluid between cells. While calcium is obviously important, too much can impair kidney function and decrease absorption of other minerals in the body. Excessive intake of calcium or vitamin-D (50,000 IU or higher) overtime can result in hypercalcemia (elevated levels of calcium in the blood).
Foods: Milk, yogurt and cheese are the main suppliers, but don't overlook leafy greens.
RDA: 18 mg. Limit: 45 mg
Iron is one essential mineral that must be consumed in careful moderation. An adequate amount of iron is essential for cell growth regulation and specialization. Too much, however, can be even more dangerous than an inadequate amount. Studies show that high iron levels may be a risk factor for heart disease. Iron also competes with important minerals, like copper, for absorption in the body. The scariest possibility? Too much iron can result in iron toxicity, which can progressively damage the liver, heart and endocrine glands. Without proper care, the damage done to these organs can ultimately result in premature death.
Foods: Beans, dried fruits, eggs and fortified breads.
RDA: 11 mg for men; 8 mg for women. Limit: 40 mg
Zinc is found in almost every cell of your body, and is key to keeping a healthy immune system. While it supports growth and development, overexposure can lead to hair loss, ovarian cysts and muscle spasms. It's a balancing act. Not enough zinc can cause diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation and impotence and growth retardation. And it isn't hard to max out when using zinc lozenges for cold relief. ConsumerLab.com, an independent firm that evaluates health and nutrition products, found that lozenge label requirements suggest a dose every two hours to be effective. This results in zinc intake several times more than needed.
Foods: Oysters, beef, pork, and yogurt all contain zinc.
Final Word of Advice
When tallying up your daily dosage, always remember to add up the
dosage you're getting from the natural foods and fortified foods you
eat and the vitamins you take. Also, unless your doctor specifically
prescribes vitamin supplements for a medical condition, it's
generally a good idea to talk to your health provider before taking
anything more than a basic multivitamin.
Processed Meat May Kill
You, Study Finds
Meats, especially those served in fast food restaurants, are often processed with additional additives such as salt, nitrate, phosphates or sweeteners to add flavor or extend shelf life. Researchers looked at nearly half a million people from 10 European countries over two decades and found that the more processed meat that a person consumed, the higher their risk of premature death from cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Overall, we estimate that 3 percent of premature deaths each year could be prevented if people ate less than 20 grams of processed meat per day," Sabine Rohrmann, PhD, study author and assistant professor of chronic disease epidemiology at the University of Zurich, said in a statement.
Twenty grams, which is less than an ounce, is far less processed meat than the average American eats, said Howard Weintraub, MD, a clinical associate professor in the department of medicine at the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Processed meat generally includes all smoked and cured meat, such as ham, bacon, and sausage, according to the study, but also includes meat that has added salt, such as deli meats, and meat from fast food restaurants, which often contains preservatives.
These effects obviously come as a consequence of these chemicals that are used as preservatives, Dr. Weintraub said. Its also not surprising that eating processed meats, which are going to be fattier and saltier, will clog your arteries or give you cancer.
People in the study who ate a lot of processed meat were also more likely to live unhealthy lifestyles they smoked, they didn't exercise, they ate poorly, and they drank alcohol all of which can raise your risk for cancer or cardiovascular disease, Rohrmann said.
And while eating processed meat may not be good for you, eating meat can be part of a healthy diet, said Dr. Rohrmann says. Even though eating steak and other fatty meats consistently may hurt your health, they do provide some nutrients. To avoid negative health effects while still getting the nutrients you need, she recommends eating meat that has either not been processed at all or has only been minimally processed.
Meat is rich in important minerals and vitamins, she said. My recommendation is to lower processed meat intake. Most importantly, quit smoking, be physically active and keep a normal body weight.
Weintraub agrees, saying that it's okay to occasionally indulge in a lean cut of meat that's cooked in a way that lets fat drain off, such as grilling or broiling especially if it means you eat it instead of processed meat.
I think minimizing your intake of saturated fat is important, but I think its more important to minimize your intake of processed meat, he said. Id rather someone tell me theyre going to have a small piece of beef than a piece of processed meat because of how salty and fatty they are.
Eating at home and eating simple is a good idea,
Weintraub added. And if you are going to enjoy a steak, Make
sure that the meat occupies no more than a third of your plate, and
that your plate is filled the rest of the way with veggies," he
Stool Color - What Is Normal and What You Should Be Concerned About
People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have an unique challenge in that the disorder, by definition, involves a change in the appearance of bowel movements, leaving them with very understandable concerns about the color of stool.
Typical Stool Colors
Stool can be a variety of different colors without indicating the presence of serious disease. Here are some common stool colors:
Colors to Be Concerned About
The following colors are not typical and should immediately be brought to the attention of your physician:
If you have stools this color, don't panic. Although it is true that red- or black-colored stools suggest bleeding and therefore could indicate the presence of colon cancer, there are many other not-so-scary possibilities, such as acute infection, a tear in the tissue of the anus (anal fissure), hemorrhoids, or non-cancerous polyps.
Don't Check Too Often!
A person who suffers from an eating disorder will cause himself unnecessary anguish by checking the scale constantly. If the numbers are up, they become upset. The problem is that scales are not precise instruments and fluctuations in scale measurements are not necessarily indicative of weight gain. This same principle can be applied to daily examination of your bowel movements. Therefore a much better strategy would be a weekly checking. That way, you can be confident that you are monitoring your health, but not exposing yourself to unnecessary emotional distress.
IBS and Stool Changes
As stated above, IBS by definition involves a change in stool appearance. So, yes, your stool may look abnormal to you. Just remember that abnormal does not necessarily mean that your doctors have missed a more serious disease. Typical IBS stools can be:
This advice to not check the appearance of stools too often is
especially relevant for IBS sufferers. The psychology of IBS can be
similar to that of post-traumatic stress disorder. When you have been
traumatized by severe symptoms, your brain automatically wants to
search for signs related to your disorder. This can result in
hypervigilance -- a constant state of anxious watching and worrying.
The catch-22 problem with IBS is that this anxious state can trigger
or exacerbate the very symptoms that you are worried about. Thus, it
is important for you to work actively to reduce your anxiety whenever
you can. One way to do this is to reduce your focus on the way that
your stool looks.