‘Macho’ men die earlier than women
Guys, do you feel pain? Don’t just take it like a man, go see a doctor.
Despite healthcare advances and medical data showing longer life spans for humans, men the world over are dying earlier than women who tend to live five to 10 years longer.
This is because unlike men, women are more likely to seek help for health problems and are more likely to complain or report of having them, explained Dr. Quincy Raya of the Asian Institute of Longevity Medicine, a medical facility specializing in anti-aging medicine.
“As the country celebrates Father’s Day and while the rest of the world observes Men’s Health Month this June, we would like to encourage the men in our lives to open up,” said Raya.
“Men are defiant when it comes to visiting doctors due to gender role training, that is, men are supposed to take pain like a man or suppress suffering like a man,” she said.
“Don’t treat pain and discomfort like a rite to manhood,” Raya said.
This “macho” mentality, or sense of invincibility, is what prevents most men from getting screening tests, one of the most important things that men can do for their health and to help live longer lives, explained Raya.
It is only though screening tests that doctors are able to detect diseases early, often before there are symptoms and when they are easier to treat, she said.
“Consider this: Most diseases that shorten men’s lives like heart attack, stroke, prostate and colorectal cancer are very treatable in the early stages. It is only when men already experience severe symptoms that they are forced to see a doctor,” said Raya.
By then, it may already be too late for them.
The following are the things that men should watch out for and must be screened for:
Prostate cancer. Screening should start at age 40 or 45. A simple digital rectal exam as well as a blood test of PSA levels are very important, especially if a father or brothers have developed prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is highly curable when caught early.
Heart disease/ high blood pressure/ high cholesterol. Raya said that if heart disease runs in your family or if your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are high, ask your doctor about taking medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, even if there are no symptoms yet.
Because men’s testosterone levels start to decline starting around middle age—the so- called andropose that may begin at age 40— the levels of “bad” cholesterol starts to increase while that of the “good” cholesterol decreases, making men more vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.
Erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction or ED is very common, especially after prostate removal so men should not wait for the prostate to get worse.
Weight increase. Raya said that watching your weight also prevents one from developing type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other weight-related problems.
Diabetes. A large percentage of Filipino males may already have signs of pre-diabetes (elevated blood sugar), which could be detected through a simple blood test. If left unattended, this may soon lead to type 2 diabetes which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and loss of limb.
Stroke. Seek immediate help if you suddenly develop weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, confusion, speech or comprehension problems, vision loss, dizziness, or difficulty with walking, balance or coordination.
But of course, there are factors that cannot be helped, according to Raya.
“Women have the heart-protecting advantage of estrogen at least until menopause. It acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing the free radicals that damage cells and accelerate aging,” she explained.
The superior sex
Women also menstruate, a biological function that helps them to experience cardiovascular disease later than men, she said.
During menstruation, when a woman’s heart becomes active, estradiol, the most potent of the estrogen hormones, is released in the woman’s body, she explained.
Women also excrete excess iron, which contribute to the formation of free radicals that could lead to heart disease or stroke.
“Because men don’t menstruate, they are stuck with that iron in their blood streams,” said Raya.
But although these biological advantages all point to the female species as superior, Raya warned that the female of the species shouldn’t take their longer life expectancy for granted.
“If women continue to adopt unhealthy habits, such as a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking, the gap may narrow further,” she said.
Raya’s clinic has launched The Men’s Health Society Phil., which brings together a multidisciplinary team whose focus is improving men’s health in general.
“By holding free lectures here at our HV de la Costa street clinic, we hope to encourage more men, especially the fathers, to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury, and live as long as women do,” Raya said.
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