Do men tend to overlook health issues?
Dr. Sang Won, who treats men of all ages, says that may just be a stereotype. Still, he encourages men to be attentive to their health, and offers tips on practical daily steps and regular screenings.
“It’s never too late to begin routine checkups to stay on top of your health,” he says. “In my Family Medicine practice, young, healthy men 30 years and up typically see me every three years. Men 50 and older tend to come in annually, just to make sure everything is in range and doing okay.”
Six steps to stay healthy
1) Keep physically activity. “I recommend at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. You can jog, swim, walk—anything that gets your heartrate up and makes you sweat.“
2) Maintain a healthy weight. Body mass index (BMI) is calculated with weight and height. “We want a BMI under 25. If it’s not, we’ll talk about ways to change your lifestyle and create a plan.”
3) Eat balanced meals. “Meals are often a favorite part of each day—but there are healthy foods and not so healthy foods! Focus on a low intake of saturated and trans fats. Then balance protein, fiber and carbs—at a 1:1:1 ratio, you are heading in the right direction.”
4) Monitor alcohol consumption. “For men, if you have two or more drinks per day, consider cutting down, or reevaluating your relationship with alcohol. If this is a struggle, talk with your doctor who can provide support.”
5) Watch blood pressure (BP). You can do this yourself, with a BP cuff at home, or at a local pharmacy. “The goal is below 130/80,” Dr. Won explains. “If too high, try lowering salt intake, cut out caffeine and soda, and increase exercise. Give it a few weeks. Still too high? I suggest visiting your doctor.”
6) Keep up with vaccinations. “Men do tend to play these down, but prevention is certainly better than getting sick,” says Dr. Won.
Some quick guidelines:
- Tdap booster every 10 years for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)
- HPV by age 45, to avoid penile cancer and papillomavirus
- Shingles age 50 and older to prevent this viral infection that creates a painful rash
- COVID-19 vaccine to protect individuals and their community
Three-phase approach to cancer screenings
“I think once you start aging, and you start having new aches, you may wonder, ‘Is my body falling apart?’” Dr. Won says, with a smile. “At age 45, I recommend men start routine cancer screening.”
The recommended start age for colon cancer screening is now 45. The best screening method is a colonoscopy, which is done by a gastroenterologist.
Lung cancer screening isn’t for everybody. But if you smoke now or quit in the past 15 years, you should talk to your doctor. “We can discuss your age, your history and ‘pack-years,’ and what’s best for you.”
For prostate cancer screening, Dr. Won says, “I generally start screening at age 50 and up to 70. Also, if you are having any unusual urinary symptoms, it’s time to see your doctor.”
— Sponsored by Pacific Medical Centers