There are many reasons today why men’s health is the focus of attention. Recent statistics have shown an increase in the illness and morbidity rates among men. Men’s health is poor according to a wide range of measures. Some of the most significant are:
-Men tend to take more risks than women when it comes to their health. They are more likely to drink more than the normal alcohol limits, to smoke, to be overweight or to use illegal drugs.
-The average male life expectancy at birth is approximately 74 years while for women it is approximately 79 years.
-Men are more susceptible to die from HIV infection, cancer, accidents, heart disease and suicide.
-Men are more than twice as likely as women to have a major or minor accident.
Some of the factors that affect men’s health are listed below. These factors are major concerns that have to be dealt with to reduce the fatality rate in men.
Alcoholism is the consumption of alcoholic beverages to a point that this behavior impedes with the alcoholic’s normal life. The chronic alcohol consumption caused by alcoholism can result in psychological and physiological disorders.
Drinking alcohol is not always detrimental to health and in fact drinking in moderation can be good for you. Try to drink sensibly. Drinking 3 to 4 units (or less) a day for men is just fine. You should see to it that these daily limits shouldn’t exceed even if you only drink occasionally. A few days in a month without any alcohol can prove to be quite beneficial to your overall health, too. Binge drinking and intoxication through alcohol should be completely avoided.
Alcoholism can Affect Your Health in Various Ways:
Alcohol can damage many of the body’s organs leading to liver disease, some cancers and high blood pressure. High blood pressure often leads to coronary heart disease and many kinds of stroke. Excess alcohol can also make you overweight or obese which further result in other complications.
Apart from causing physical damage, alcoholism also affects your psychological behaviour. It increases the chances of violent and aggressive behaviour by men. Alcoholism has been the root cause for many incidents of domestic violence and child abuse. Men who are heavy drinkers develop psychological and emotional problems such as depression. Alcohol dependence is like nicotine or other drug addictions and can be very difficult to overcome.
3. Tobacco Smoking
Tobacco smoking or simply “smoking” is the act of burning the dried or cured leaves of the tobacco plant and inhaling the smoke for various reasons. It could be for pleasure or ritualistic purposes, or out of habit and to satisfy addiction. Tobacco smoke contains an addictive stimulant called nicotine that briefly improves alertness, memory and mood. But nicotine also forms a strong physical and psychological chemical dependence or addiction. Medical studies have shown that main health risks in tobacco pertain to diseases of the cardiovascular system, in particular smoking being a major risk factor for cancer, particularly lung cancer and cancers of the larynx and tongue, myocardial infarction (heart attack), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema.
It is estimated that about 1 in 3 people smoke in the UK. In Britain, every day around 320 smokers die due to tobacco smoking. The health consequences of tobacco smoking are linked to direct tobacco smoking, passive smoking, breathing of environmental or secondhand tobacco smoke. A recent study showed that nonsmokers lived about 10 more years than the smokers. Heavy smokers were about 25 times more likely to die of lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than the nonsmokers. Lung cancer rates are linked to the number of people who smoke. More men than women smoke. As a result more men than women die of lung cancer.
Active smoking is extremely hazardous to your health but passive smoking also plays a major role in the number of fatalities per year. Passive smoking is estimated to cause at least 49 deaths a year among those working in the hospitality industry, twice as many as die in this group from exposure to smoke in the home. According to the Canadian Lung Association, tobacco kills between 40,000-45,000 Canadians per year, more than the total number of deaths from AIDS, traffic accidents, suicide, murder, fires and accidental poisoning.
Some Facts that Act as a Reality Check for those Who Smoke:
-Smoking kills 120000 people each year in the UK, compared to 5000 caused by road accidents.
-Smoking is the greatest solitary reason for ill health and premature death in the UK.
-Smoking augments the risk of impotence by around 50% for men in their 30s.
1 in 4 deaths from heart disease
One-third of all cancer deaths
4 out of 5 lung cancer deaths
4 out of 5 deaths from bronchitis and emphysema
-Smoking affects virtually all parts of the body. 2000 arms and legs are amputated every year in the UK as a direct result of smoking.
4. Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is a disease wherein the cancer forms in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Cancer occurs when cells of the prostate mutate and begin to multiply out of control. Prostate cancer may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, erectile dysfunction and other symptoms.
Mostly Men over the age of 50 suffer from prostate cancer. This cancer only occurs in men, as the organ is exclusively of the male reproductive tract. Prostate cancer is 2nd most common cancer (after lung cancer) responsible for male fatalities in the US. Many factors such as genetics and diet have been implicated in the development of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the 9th most common cancer in the world, but is the number one non-skin cancer in United States men. 18% of American men were affected and 3% of men died due to this cancer in 2005. Prostate cancer rates are higher and prognosis poorer in Western societies than the rest of the world. Longer life expectancy and diets high in animal fats are some of the risk factors for prostate cancer that make it more prevalent in the Western world.
5. HIV Infection Or AIDS
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Individuals are prone to opportunistic infections and tumors during the late stages of this infection. While treatments for AIDS and HIV are present to slow down the virus’s progression, there is no definite & known cure.
HIV spreads through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-seminal fluid and breast milk. Mostly, this transmission comes in the form of anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.
HIV affects nearly every organ system. Individuals affected with AIDS have a greater risk of developing various cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma, cervical cancer and cancers of the immune system known as lymphomas.
As of January 2006 according to studies & research conducted by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS has taken more than 25 million lives since it was first established on June 5, 1981. This makes it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. In 2005 itself, AIDS killed an estimated 2.4 to 3.3 million people.
Globally, between 33.4 and 46 million people currently live with HIV. In 2005, between 3.4 and 6.2 million people were newly infected. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the worst affected region, with an estimated 21.6 to 27.4 million people currently living with HIV. South & South East Asia are second worst affected with 15%. In the United States, the number of persons with AIDS increased from about 35,000 in 1988 to over 220,000 in 1996.
Obesity is a physical condition that results from surplus storage of fat in the body. In men this fat mostly gets collected around the abdomen and is often termed as a beer belly. Obesity has been defined as a weight more than 20% above what is considered normal according to the body mass index. BMI is calculated by assessing an individual’s age, height and weight. The chief reason for concern is that obesity multiplies a person’s risk of contracting a wide range of life-threatening diseases.
In the UK at present, over half the adults are overweight and 1 in 5 is obese. Current estimates place more than 35% of Americans in the obese category. Obesity has turned out to be our biggest health crisis and as per recent statistics, 78% of men will be overweight or obese in another 10 to 15 years. The proportion of men in England classified as overweight was 47% and the proportion of obese men was 21%. Being overweight or obese can cause grave threats to men’s health. Central obesity, especially, can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis. Men may also suffer from low self esteem and social isolation.
Impotence or Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis for satisfactory sexual intercourse regardless of the capability of ejaculation. The causes of erectile dysfunction may be physiological or psychological.
Normal erections during sleep and in the early morning suggest a psychogenic cause, while loss of these erections may signify underlying disease, often cardiovascular in origin. Other factors leading to impotence are diabetes mellitus or hypogonadism.
The inability to achieve erection sufficient for penetration and sex, (impotence), increases with age. Of men aged 50 to 80 years, 30% are impotent. In the age group of 70 to 80 years, nearly 50% are unable to achieve erection sufficient for sex without treatment. 15 to 30 million American men suffer from impotence at present. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), for every 1,000 men in the United States, 7.7 physician office visits were made for ED in 1985. By 1999, that rate had nearly tripled to 22.3.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence
Damage to nerves, arteries, smooth muscles, and fibrous tissues, often as a result of disease, is the most common cause of impotence. Diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, chronic alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis, vascular disease, and neurologic disease account for about 70% of ED cases. Between 35% to 50% of men with diabetes suffer from impotence.
Different lifestyles that contribute to heart disease and vascular problems raise the risk of impotence. Smoking, obesity and lack of proper exercise are possible causes of ED. Also, surgery (radical prostate and bladder surgery for cancer) can injure nerves and arteries near the penis, leading to impotence. Injury to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder and pelvis often results in impotence by harming nerves, smooth muscles, arteries and fibrous tissues of the corpora cavernosa. Many medications like blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, appetite suppressants and cimetidine (an ulcer drug) can cause impotence.
Also psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, guilt, depression, low self-esteem and fear of sexual failure cause 10% to 20% of impotence cases. Other possible causes include hormonal abnormalities, such as inadequate testosterone levels.