This year marks the 21st anniversary of the official awareness period of Men’s Health Week, which is June 15-19 — the week of Father’s Day. Men often pay too little attention to their health until a serious problem emerges. As the Men’s Health Network reports, women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. During this Father’s Day holiday that was established to honor fathers for what they have done for their families, we can encourage men to also take care of themselves.
Despite advances in medical technology and research, men continue to have a shorter life span than women; African-American men have the lowest life expectancy among men. Men live an average of almost five years less than women. Interestingly, this life span gap among men and women has widened over the past nearly 100 years despite increasing life spans overall. The Men’s Health Network reports that in 1920, women lived on average one year longer than men. In the 10 leading causes of death, men lead in every category. More men die of heart disease and cancer than women.
Additionally, according to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 220,800 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 27,540 will die in 2015 alone. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. Approximately, one man in 38 will die of prostate cancer.
Many of these deaths are preventable — and many of the diseases which adversely affect men are treatable with early detection. Men’s Health Week and the entire month of June, which signifies Men’s Health Month, were designated to provide opportunities to raise awareness of preventable health issues and promote prevention and early detection. Health fairs, health education and outreach activities in communities across the nation are some of the efforts meant to promote men’s health throughout the week and month.
We all have a stake in improving men’s health. When men struggle with preventable illnesses, their families and loved ones who depend on them and employers impacted by medical care costs and lost productivity also suffer. Men’s health issues can also create burdens on federal and state governments that absorb the costs of premature death and disability, including the costs of caring for dependents left behind.
By taking care of themselves, men in turn care for their loved ones. Through healthy nutrition choices, and staying active, we not only have a better chance of catching problems early, but also we hopefully pass on healthy practices to our children.