What you need to know about men's health
This month at A.Vogel it's Men's Health Month and we are making it our mission to encourage men to take control of their health. While men are lucky enough not to experience PMS or menopause, when it comes to their health there are a few surprising and shocking statistics which may make them feel less lucky than women!
So let’s explore five of these statistics and delve into the reasons behind them:
1. In the UK, 1 man in 5 dies before the age of 65 1
It’s no secret that we are living longer, but when it comes to male life expectancy there are still some clear concerns. According to Men’s Health Forum, 19% of men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland die before they retire, with this percentage increasing to 22% in Scotland. On top of that, statistics show that on average, men die nearly four years earlier than women.
The biggest cause of death in men is cancer, with prostate cancer the most common cancer for men in the UK. Men are also more likely to develop and die from all common cancers than women, with the exception of breast cancer.2
So why is the mortality rate for men and women so unequal?
Men’s reluctance to consult their doctor and talk about health worries is one of the main reasons. Sadly this isn’t just a stereotype, it’s a fact! Statistics collected by Men’s Health Forum show that men are less likely to visit their doctor or a pharmacist than women and they are less likely than women to acknowledge illness or seek help.3
Perhaps this is why many believe that the reason married men live longer than single men is that their wives nag them to go to the doctors!
But why do men avoid their doctors?
In 2016, Orlando Health commissioned a survey to get to the bottom of why men put off seeing a doctor and three top reasons were identified: being too busy, fearing that the doctor might find a serious problem, and wanting to skip uncomfortable body exams like prostate checks.4
But it’s time to put off the excuses! It’s important to keep in mind that the earlier you are diagnosed, especially for serious conditions, the better chance of successful treatment and recovery.
Essential health checks:
If you have any concerns about your health, don’t ignore them. No matter how worried you may be or how insignificant it may seem, it’s important to consult your doctor.
Not sure if anything is wrong? Did you know if you are between 40 and 74 years you can have a free NHS health check? It can tell you whether you're at higher risk of getting certain health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke.
The NHS Health Check programme is run by local authorities in England, but how you get your check varies, depending on where you live. Check with your GP surgery or pharmacies in your area to see if they offer this check or something similar. Many pharmacies offer services such as type 2 diabetes screening and blood pressure testing, so it’s worth checking what is available in your area.
2. 50% of men over the age of 50 develop an enlarged prostate 5
It is estimated that 3.2 million men in the UK suffer from symptoms of an enlarged prostate.6
Although it’s a very common problem as a man grows older, what isn’t common is men’s understanding of the prostate, including where it is, what it’s for and why it can become enlarged. So let’s take a minute to go back to basics…
The prostate is a small gland that is part of the male reproductive system, which is roughly the shape and size of a walnut. It sits under the bladder, lying between the bladder and the penis. It also surrounds the urethra and produces small amounts of a fluid which is mixed with sperm when a man ejaculates.
As a man becomes older, the prostate can naturally begin to enlarge. This puts increasing pressure on the bladder and squeezes the urethra which can lead to urinary problems.
Although an enlarged prostate is not a life-threatening condition, it can give rise to several inconvenient symptoms that every man should be aware of. These include:
- A need to urinate often
- Having to get up at night to urinate more often
- Weak stream or urine flow
- Difficulty stopping or starting when urinating
- A feeling of urgency when needing the toilet
- A feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
- Dribbling urine after you finish urinating.
Essential health checks:
Not sure if you have symptoms of an enlarge prostate? Try using our prostate symptom checker, which can help you understand if you have mild, moderate or severe symptoms, as well as information to help you speak to your doctor about these symptoms.
If you think you have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, then you should get the diagnosis confirmed by your doctor. One of the most important reasons is to exclude the possibility of prostate cancer, which shares many of the same symptoms.
Also, once you’ve had that initial diagnosis, there are many treatment options, which can range from ‘doing nothing’, to prescribed medication and surgery depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Many men turn to herbal remedies such as extracts of Saw Palmetto berries to naturally treat the mild to moderate symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Taken just once a day, our Prostasan® Saw Palmetto capsules is a convenient and effective herbal remedy containing extracts of Saw Palmetto berries.
3. In the UK, 1 in 7 men die from coronary heart disease (CHD) 7
One of the leading causes of death in the UK, CHD is another condition which affects more men than women. While one in seven men die from CHD, according to the British Heart Foundation one in twelve women die from it.
More men also live with CHD in the UK, with over 1.6 men living with it, in contrast to the 1 million women who have the condition. Men are also more likely to die from it at a younger age, according to Harvard Health Publications.8
The NHS explains that coronary heart disease (also known as ischemic heart disease or coronary artery disease) occurs when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits.9
CHD is typically caused by lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity, as well as conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and raised cholesterol. Another cause is having a family history of CHD – the NHS states that this risk is increased if you have a male relative under the age of 55, or a female relative under 65, with CHD.
There are a few typical warning signs to look out for, including chest pain (angina), which can also be described as discomfort or heaviness in the chest, as well as heart palpitations or unusual breathlessness.
Essential Health Checks:
If you are worried about your heart health, or you are experiencing any of the warning signs, then consult your doctor. If your doctor feels you're at risk of CHD, they may carry out a risk assessment, which includes asking about your medical and family history, checking your blood pressure and a blood test to assess your cholesterol level, as well as further tests if needed.
4. One man in 10 now has diabetes 10
The UK is facing a growing diabetes crisis and according to Men’s Health Forum men are the worst affected, with men 26% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women. Plus, they are also more at risk of experiencing complications such as leg amputations and are more likely to die from the condition than women.
Furthermore, in middle-aged men the condition is expected to become increasingly more common over the next 20 years – so men really need to be more vigilant about preventing diabetes, as well as recognising the symptoms!
According to Diabetes UK, almost nine in ten people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2, and it is estimated that there are nearly 1 million people currently living with the condition who don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed.11
Being overweight is one of the most common causes of type 2 diabetes. As reported by Men’s Health Forum, men are more likely than women to be overweight. Also, men are also less likely to be aware that they are overweight or to participate in weight management programmes than women.12
While weight is a common reason behind diabetes, there are a few other factors which increase your risk of developing this condition, including high blood pressure, family history, ethnicity and inactivity.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Increased thirst and urination, especially at night
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Unexplained weight loss
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
- Blurred vision.
Essential Health Checks:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should consult your doctor. Your doctor will check your urine and arrange a blood test to check your blood sugar levels. Early diagnosis, treatment and diet control are vital for managing this condition and reduce the chances of developing serious complications, so it’s important not to ignore the signs and symptoms.
5. 1 in 8 men are reported to have mental health problems 13
While mental health problems affect both men and women, there are some key differences which are surprising and worrying!
Anxiety, depression and stress are just three of the more common mental health issues associated with men. However, similar to their physical health, men are often more reluctant to discuss mental health than women. This means that men are less likely to seek care for depression and other mental illness, as reported by Harvard Health Publishing.14
The suicide rates for men in the UK prove this further. While the majority of people treated for depression are female, according to the Samaritans, men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women, with 45-49 year old men the most common age group.15
This hard-hitting statistic demonstrates the troubling mental health crisis that men are facing and shows that they are not seeking the same help as women.
Symptoms of common mental health problems include feeling stressed, anxious, more worried than usual, low or unmotivated. You may also experience trouble sleeping, find it difficult to concentrate and be more irritable and moody.
Essential Health Check:
If you have noticed that you are experiencing any of these symptoms or feelings lately and are worried then please speak to your doctor- it is essential to talk about it to get the right support and treatment. Your doctor can advise you of talking therapies, simple lifestyle changes that can improve your mental health and medication if appropriate.
You can also contact the Samaritans’ 24/7 emotional support team to talk to someone. You can them free any time, from any phone on 116 123.
6 healthy tips for men
If there was ever a reason to take charge of your health and start to make healthier choices, then these statistics need to be it! The sooner you do it, the better.
So what should you do to take charge of your health? Simple lifestyle changes, helpful remedies, supplements and other essential health checks can make a big difference to men’s overall health. Here are a few I recommend:
1. Get active
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that exercise is good for you! But if you are worried about the above statistics then you will be glad to hear that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and mental health problems. It can also be very beneficial for your prostate health.
Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym hard for hours. There is growing evidence to suggest that exercising outdoors is even better for your health, especially when it comes to blood pressure and mood.
For lots of helpful and motivating tips and advice, head over to our Get Active blog.
2. Get your blood pressure checked regularly
The NHS recommends that all adults over the age of 40 get their blood pressure checked at least once every five years, to make sure any potential problems can be detected early.16
So if you are over 40, ask yourself when was the last time you had yours checked?
3. Stop smoking & limit your alcohol intake
Men are more likely than women to smoke and drink alcohol (and at hazardous levels). 17 These are two more factors which contribute to men being more affected by conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Speak to your doctor if you need help to stop smoking and try to cut down on your alcohol intake as much as possible.
You can get practical tips on giving up alcohol from Drinkaware and support to help you stop smoking from Smokefree.
4. Eat well
Eating well is fundamental to good health and well-being. A good diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean protein can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
My article 6 great foods for men over 50 outlines specific foods that should definitely be included in every man’s diet, but especially for those over the age of 50.
5. Zinc it up!
Zinc is one of the single most important nutrients for men’s health. It is well-known for supporting your immune system, but did you know that zinc can also help to balance testosterone levels and support a healthy prostate? Your body doesn’t actually produce zinc though, so a daily intake is recommended to ensure healthy levels of this critical mineral.
My article, 4 reasons why men need more zinc in their diets takes a closer look at the benefits of this vital nutrient, as well as zinc-rich foods you should be including in your diet.
You can also give your zinc intake a boost with our Balance Mineral Drink. This daily drink also contains vitamin D, calcium, potassium and magnesium which can help fight tiredness and fatigue, as well as regulating mood and stress by nourishing the nervous system.
You can add it to plain water or a smoothie and drink when you need it most such as first thing in the morning or in the afternoon. It also works well as a post-workout drink to replace lost electrolytes.
6. Sleep well
Poor sleep is notorious for impacting your health. According to the NHS, regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy.18
Struggling to get to sleep, snoring and getting up through the night all contribute to poor quality sleep, but there are lots of things you can do to get a better night’s sleep.
You can find lots of tips and advice to get a better night’s sleep on our Sleep Hub. You can also try Dormeasan – our natural sleep remedy made from extracts of Valerian root and Hops.
You can also get lots more information, tips and advice on my Men’s Health blog.