Let’s face it, men are known to be more indifferent towards their health, especially when compared to the efforts of women, who proactively and publicly address their health issues in a way not traditionally seen with men. As a result, today the levels of awareness, understanding and funding for support of men's health issues, like prostate cancer and depression in men, lag significantly behind women’s causes such as breast cancer.
The reasons for the poor state of men’s health in New Zealand and around the world are numerous and complex and this is primarily due to a lack of awareness of the health issues men face. This can largely be attributed to the reluctance of men openly discussing the subject due to longstanding traditions, coupled with an ‘it’ll be alright’ attitude. Men are less likely to schedule doctors’ appointments when they feel ill or for an annual physical, thereby denying them the chance of early detection and effective treatment of common diseases.
What are you scared of?
As a rule, men still access health services less frequently than women and when they do visit the doctor, they typically present late, thereby denying themselves the chance of early detection and treatment of common diseases. Recent studies show that many men don’t get regular health checks because they:
- Fear it will lead to a hospital visit
- Are embarrassed to discuss their health issues
- Find it too hard to see a doctor because they just can’t fit it into their schedule
- Just can’t be bothered making an appointment
Statistics show that, on average, men die at a younger age than women – the average life expectancy for men is five years less than women (presently 77 compared to 82). That said, despite trailing the women’s health movement, things are beginning to change, but much more progress needs to be made to close the gap between the state of men and women’s health. Established taboos and barriers relating to men’s health are gradually being broken down.
Movember aims to change the face of men’s health and reverse this way of thinking by putting a fun twist on this serious issue. Using the moustache as a catalyst, we want to bring about change and give men the opportunity and confidence to talk about their health more openly.
Movember's primary objective is to raise awareness of men's health issues, specifically cancers affecting men and depression in men.
- We want everyone to know that all men aged over 50 and those over 40 with a family history of prostate cancer are at risk and should be tested annually
- We want every man who is dealing with depression to know it is a disease for which they can and should seek help
- We want men to know that they shouldn’t wait until they are sick to see a doctor, an annual general health check-up will be the best chance for catching things early and preventing complications and side effects
- The average life expectancy for men is five years less than women (presently 77 years old compared to 82)
- 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime compared to 1 in 3 women
- Prostate cancer occurs mainly in men over 60, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in New Zealand men
- 1 in 10 NZ men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Some will need treatment and some will live with it, however don't take any chances. From age 40 get an annual prostate cancer check - starting with a simple blood test. Prostate cancer is curable if you get to it early enough
- Depression affects one in six people at any time
- Four times as many men commit suicide compared with women
- Each day, 7 New Zealanders die from stroke, with a further 5, 500 strokes occurring and often resulting in disability. A third of these strokes are attributable to high blood pressure. Therefore, having your blood pressure regularly monitored is a good preventative measure
- Bowel Cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) is the most common cancer in NZ. But bowel cancer is one of the most treatable and beatable cancers if caught early. Although it is most prevalent in people age 50+, men of all ages should watch out for any signs of bowel cancer
- Smoking causes more deaths every year in New Zealand than road crashes, suicide, skin cancers, drowning and homicide combined. It is no secret that if you are a smoker, it increases your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and a range of cancers and other diseases.
- Men account for 70% of alcohol related deaths
- One-third of men have not seen a doctor in the past year. 10% have not seen one for five years
It’s not all bad news! Maintaining a good diet, smart lifestyle choices and getting regular health check-ups and screening tests can dramatically influence your health. Regardless of age, stay on top of your game by doing the following:
|KNOW YOUR BODY
Look after yourself, know what symptoms to look out for and know your risks. Record every sign and symptom you experience and discuss this with your doctor.
KNOW YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Family history is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health. Family history affects your level of risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, among other illnesses. It all starts with a conversation; talk to your family and take note of illnesses that a direct relative has experienced.
If you do smoke, stop! Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer death in men.
BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
If you are not already physically active, start small and work up to a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Stay on the move throughout the day; long periods of sitting increase your risk of disease. Every little bit counts – take the stairs instead of the lift or take a walk during your lunch break.
STAY AT A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories you burn off from physical activity. Obesity and being overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain cancers.
|EAT A HEALTHY DIET
Fill up with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and choose healthy proteins like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars. Moderation is key, as is eating a wide range of food to ensure you get a variety of nutrients. The best source of vitamins is from food.
DRINK ALCOHOL ONLY IN MODERATION
Alcohol can be part of a healthy balanced diet, but only if it’s in moderation, which means no more than two drinks a day.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Stress, particularly long-term stress, can be a factor in the onset or worsening of ill health. Managing your stress is essential to your health and well-being. Take 'time out' each day and go for a walk or do something you find relaxing.
The quality of your sleep can dictate how much you eat, how fast your metabolism runs, how fat or thin you are, how well you can fight off infections, and how well you can cope with stress. Keep a regular pattern of sleep, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time is key.
Download the Men's Health Poster
here, or visit the Merchandise section
to order a free men's health pack.