Thomas Rothwell

Top men's health risks & how to address them

Global access to healthcare

10 June 2019

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Written by Thomas Rothwell

Tom is a qualified sports nutritionist and mental health first aider. 

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Do you generally bury your head in the sand when it comes to a health concern? When considering men’s health, a good place to start is the fact that three quarters of men will put off going to the doctors when showing signs of illness, with a quarter of guys saying it’s because they don’t have time – of course, this approach comes with some risks. The World Health Organisation estimates in 2018 that 41 million (or 71%) of all global deaths were premature and due to non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases. These are conditions that can be monitored, managed, treated and even avoided by visiting a doctor and making some lifestyle changes.

With this in mind, what should we be looking out for, guys?

1) Prostate and Testicular Cancer 


Prostate Cancer 
One of the biggest threats to a man’s health is prostate cancer. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, there were 1.3 million new cases of prostate cancer in 2018 – broken down, that makes 3,500 new cases every day.

The Prostate is a gland that lies under the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the passage that men urinate and ejaculate through, and its main role is to produce semen. It’s the size and shape of a walnut and increases in size as you get older. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells grow  faster than they need to. These cells can then develop into a tumour - sometimes without any warning signs. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • increased urination
  • difficulty urinating or holding urine back
  • interrupted or weak flowing urine
  • difficulty having an erection
  • painful ejaculation or urination
  • blood in urine
  • pain/stiffness in the lower back hips or upper thighs

If you’re over 50 years old, it’s worth speaking to your doctor about your prostate and, if you’re of African/Caribbean ethnicity or have a family history of prostate cancer, it’s a good idea to start earlier, at around 45. Prostate health can now be checked through blood tests and early detection is key. 

If you’re worried about any of these symptoms or have any concerns about your health, our Virtual Doctor service*  is on hand to help. The service gives you confidential, unlimited phone and video consultations with an internationally trained doctor who speaks your language – at a time and place that suits you. It’s easy to register and book an appointment:

Testicular Cancer 
In 2018, around 71,10 men worldwide were diagnosed with  testicular cancer . Most of them between the ages of 15-40. 

The main role of the testicles is to produce sperm and testosterone. Similar to prostate cancer, testicular cancer is caused by an abnormal growth or tumour in one or both testicles. The signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • a swelling or lump on one or both testes
  • a change in texture
  • a feeling of heaviness is your scrotum
  • a sharp pain or dull ache in your testicle
  • an increase in the firmness of a testicle
  • a significant difference in shape between testicles. 

The best way to screen against testicular cancer is to give them a check at least  once a month. Take a look at this  helpful video from the Testicular Cancer Foundation on how to check your testes.

2) Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

It’s no secret that men often aren’t the best at reaching out to a doctor when they have health concerns. It’s the same when it comes to mental health – this could partly be why there are three male suicides for every female one.

The Movember Foundation states that ‘most of us guys say that we would be there for our male friends if they need us’, however ‘most of us also say that we feel uncomfortable asking our friends for help’. The good news is that this can be changed. 

Most of us have periods where we are busy, stressed or just feel down and, for some people, these periods pass by harmlessly. For others, however, they can develop into problems that start to spill over and start influencing the way we act and think. They can even start to have an effect on how we interact with others and how we view our environment. If you can’t seem to shift this feeling, why not try…

  • talking to one of your trusted friends 
  • being active - it can do unbelievable things for the body and mind 
  • taking a break and do something you enjoy

Sometimes, these things aren’t quite enough 

Call our Health at Hand confidential health information helpline, available 24/7 to our customers and their family. Experienced counsellors are on hand at any time to put your mind at ease – so you’re not worrying a moment longer than you need to. 

3) Diabetes

The number of cases of diabetes in adults increased from  108 million in 1980 to  422 million in 2014. The disease is more common in men, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar to become too high as the hormone insulin isn’t working as well as it should. Diabetes 2 is often linked to being overweight or obese, especially around the mid-section of the body. Leading a sedentary lifestyle, having a poor diet and a family history of the disease can all increase your risk, too. If blood sugar remains high for a long period of time, it can start affecting your vision, nerves and heart. Common symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes include:

  • urinating more than usual
  • increased thirst
  • feeling lethargic
  • cuts and wounds taking longer to heal
  • blurred vision
  • repeated episodes of thrush

If you have one or more of the above symptoms, you should speak to your doctor who can do some tests to make a diagnosis.

Men’s Health Optimisers

  • Don’t ignore health concerns, it’s always best to catch whatever it is early!
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about physical health or mental health
  • If in doubt, get it checked!
  • Talk to your mates
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole unprocessed foods
  • Get 7-9 hours of unbroken, good quality sleep.

Guys, it is time to change. Let’s get talking about health!

*access to the virtual doctor service is not available to customers on Core, Bronze, Foundation or Standard plans unless you have added the out-patient optional upgrade. It is also not available to members of some company paid plans. If you’re unsure if you have access to the virtual doctor service, call us on +44(0)1892 503 856.

Sources:

  1. https://uk.movember.com/news/11664/gillette-survey-reveals-men-ignore-health-risks/?search-scope=global&category_id=11
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases 
  3. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/cancer-trends/worldwide-cancer-data
  4. https://www.who.int/gho/mortality_burden_disease/life_tables/situation_trends_text/en/
  5. https://www.who.int/gho/ncd/mortality_morbidity/ncd_premature_text/en/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6155960/
  7. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/cancer-trends/prostate-cancer-statistics
  8. https://testicularcancer.org/testicular-self-exam
  9. https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/factsheets/en/selfdirectedviolfacts.pdf
  10. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)00618-8/fulltext