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Men’s top 10 health threats—and how to beat them
Take control of your health

Screenings you need
Screenings you need

Talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors and exams you may need (such as chest X-rays if you smoke or bone density scans). These recommendations are from the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.

Exam/screeningWhen?Blood pressure screeneach regular healthcare visit or at least every two yearsCholesterol screenat least every five yearsBlood sugar testevery three yearsBody mass indexeach regular healthcare visitColorectal screeningevery one to 10 years, depending on the test your doctor usesProstate screening and digital rectal examask your doctor about the pros and cons of yearly screening beginning at age 40 for men at high risk, age 45 for African-American men and age 50 for all men with at least a 10-year life expectancy

Men: Do you take better care of your car than your health? Change your oil regularly but forget the last time you saw your doctor? You may be missing a chance to catch a developing health condition before it becomes a problem.

No matter your age, it’s not too late to make changes and get health screenings that can reduce your risk for these top killers of American men:

  1. Heart disease: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in American men ages 45 to 54 and 75 and up.
  2. Cancer: Cancers of the lungs, prostate and colon and rectum are the three leading causes of cancer death among men. In men ages 55 to 74, cancer is the nation’s leading cause of death.
  3. Unintentional injury: Men are more likely than women to engage in behavior that increases their risk for motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning and homicide.
  4. Stroke: Although more women than men die from stroke, stroke is more common among men. Stroke occurs when a clot or bleeding prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the brain.
  5. Chronic lower respiratory disease: Chronic bronchitis and emphysema develop slowly, damaging the lungs and making breathing difficult. You’re most at risk if you smoke or have regularly inhaled dust, chemical fumes or pollutants.
  6. Diabetes: Being overweight and sedentary increases your risk for diabetes, which puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, blindness and limb loss.
  7. Influenza and pneumonia: You’re at increased risk for both influenza and pneumonia if you are over age 65, have a weakened immune system (such as during cancer therapy or following an organ transplant) or have a chronic health condition such as chronic lower respiratory disease, diabetes or congestive heart failure. Influenza and pneumonia kill more than 28,000 American men annually.
  8. Suicide: More than four times as many men as women die from suicide. Older white males have the highest suicide rates—white men ages 85 and older have a suicide rate almost five times that of the overall national rate.
  9. Kidney disease: Experts estimate 19 million people in the United States have kidney disease. Most don’t know it. High blood pressure and diabetes increase your risk for kidney problems.
  10. Alzheimer’s disease: More than 5 million Americans, most over age 65, are living with Alzheimer’s disease today. It’s the sixth leading cause of death for men ages 75 and older.

Take control of your health

You can lower your risk for health threats by practicing these healthy lifestyle tips:

  • Get fit! Walk, jog, bicycle, swim or perform other exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Don’t smoke. It can cut your life span short by an average of 13 years.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Watch your waist. If it measures more than 40 inches, you have a high risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Improve your diet and exercise more.
  • Consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor about restricting salt intake even more.
  • If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks a day.
  • Eliminate or reduce your intake of high—and “empty”—calorie foods like candy, soda and fast food.
  • See your doctor for routine tests, including blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose screens—and find out how you can stay within healthy limits.
  • Ask your doctor about the cancer screenings you need and how to perform self-exams, such as those for testicular and skin cancers.
  • Ask your doctor whether aspirin therapy makes sense for you.
  • Get the immunizations you need, such as those for flu, pneumonia and tetanus.
  • Get emotional help when you need it. Talk to your doctor if you’ve felt down or uninterested in life for two weeks or more.