Grow a Mustache Men’s Health Month
Back in 2003, Australian men started growing mustaches in November to spark conversations about men’s health. It was that simple. A man grows facial hair in November (Mustache + November = Movember), his buddies ask him if that’s a mustache or a dead animal on his upper lip, and he has an opportunity to mention that it’s men’s health month.
Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early, before symptoms, when they're easier to treat. The tests are based on a man’s age and risk factors.
The Movember movement has since spread around the globe, and it’s no small coincidence that many Wisconsin hunters start insulating their faces in preparation for hours in a cold deer stand in November, too. Michael Kagen, MD, of ThedaCare Physicians-Internal Medicine in Appleton is serious about helping men understand the importance of seeing a doctor for annual physicals, or whenever an illness, injury, or condition keeps them off their game. “Even though we may feel great today, we have to invest in our future by choosing a healthy lifestyle and getting the recommended screenings,” he said. Simply make an appointment for an annual physical and most of these checks will be completed quickly and efficiently. Here are a couple of important health topics to discuss around the pot-bellied stove with your flannel buddies:
- The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Risk increases as lifetime exposure to sun accumulates. Dr. Kagen said, “Studies show men are in the sun a lot more than women, and they wear a lot less sunscreen than women. The most common sites for men to get skin cancer are the nose, scalp and ears.” Report any abnormally shaped or changing moles or patches of skin.
- Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer. Screening tests can rule out problems.
- The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It's also related to weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm—the dangerous ballooning of an artery. When it is treated, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
- Caring for one’s mental well-being translates into caring for one’s family and co-workers. There are therapies, support groups, counselors, and medications to help men with mental health concerns, from anxiety and depression, to addiction, smoking cessation, family problems, and anger management. Dr. Kagen said, “Many men find it difficult to share their problems and try to remain ‘strong and silent’ rather than getting support when it’s needed. If you or anyone you know needs help, please reach out.”
- Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. The majority of colon cancers slowly develop from colon polyps: growths on the inner surface of the colon. The way to prevent colon cancer is to find and remove polyps before they turn cancerous via a colonoscopy.
- A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of the arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis—hardening and narrowing of the arteries—can progress without symptoms for many years. Over time it can lead to heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol levels are checked through a simple blood test.
- The American Cancer Society recommends that all men have a testicular exam when they see a doctor for a routine physical. Although testicular cancer is uncommon, most cases occur between ages 20 and 54.
- One-third of Americans with diabetes don't know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and impotence. Especially when found early, diabetes can be controlled and complications can be avoided with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications.
- Develop a fitness plan. Start moving more. Don’t default to your regular daily routine. Make conscious decisions about building more physical activity into each day.