Staying healthy is simpler than ever before due to the use of modern medical technology and treatments, but there are a number of things men can do on a daily basis to maintain health, increase energy, and reduce stress. Of course, there are diseases that men are more at risk for, and it’s important to keep this in mind when selecting a diet, exercise program, or even medication. Here are three of the most common diseases affecting men, along with symptoms and possible methods of prevention.
Prostate cancer forms when cells in the body begin to reproduce rapidly at an uncontrolled rate. The additional cells form a growth or tumor, and prostate cancer occurs when a cancerous tumor forms in the prostate, a gland in male reproductive system. In the early stages of prostate cancer, the tumor needs testosterone, the male hormone, in order to thrive. The cancer is a slow-growing disease, and rarely affects men under the age of 40; however, it is important to make changes to diet and exercise plans early in life to prevent the onset of prostate cancer later, since cancer cells can also break away from the original tumor in the prostate and spread to other organs in the body.
Doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes prostate cancer, but age is definitely a risk factor. 75% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are age 65 or older, and the average age of diagnosis is 70. African-American men are also at greater risk for prostate cancer; the disease is least common in Asian and Native American men. The disease may also be genetic; a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer are increased if his father or brother had the disease. Lack of exercise, excessive drinking, and smoking are all factors that could make a man more at risk for the disease as well. Of course, as with most cancers, diet can play a large role in prevention. Men that consume diets high in animal fat tend to be more at risk for prostate cancer, so a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended. It is also important to consume foods rich in lycopene, a substance found in tomatoes that can also improve vision. This has been proven to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men of all ages.
It is rather difficult to diagnose prostate cancer in its early stages, since there are usually no obvious symptoms. However, the need to urinate frequently, especially in the middle of the night, could be a sign of prostate cancer if it persists for weeks. A burning sensation when urinating could also be a sign of prostate cancer. Pain in the upper thighs, hips, and/or lower back could also be a symptom, so it’s important for men to pay special attention to how their body feels after performing regular duties like going to work or exercising at a regular pace, since additional pain in these areas of the body could be an indication of prostate cancer. However, many of these symptoms could just be due to the enlargement of the prostate, and not the cancer itself, but could serve as warning signs to make major lifestyle changes in order to prevent the disease.
Treatments for prostate cancer include hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. Since each man’s body is different, it’s important to talk to the doctor about the best ways to treat prostate cancer, as well as ongoing treatment options after surgery.
Liver cancer is more likely to occur in men because men tend to drink and smoke more. Men are twice as likely to develop liver cancer than women, and the cancer is expected to affect approximately 17,550 cases of liver disease or cancer will be reported in the United States during 2005. The liver is the largest organ in the body, and helps the body to fight off infections and process nutrients. The liver also produces clotting factors that help the blood to clot properly after a cut or injury. Since the liver contains a number of cells because of its many functions, many types of cancers or tumors can contaminate it. Some of these tumors are benign or non-cancerous, but could still be a warning to take extra care of the liver in the future. Benign tumors include hepatic adenomas, which are tumors that derive from the main type of liver cell, the hepatocyte. In most cases, these tumors do not cause any discomfort or pain, but should be removed if stomach pain or blood loss begins to occur. Hemangioma, another benign tumor, is the most common type of non-cancerous tumor and starts in the blood vessels. Again, this tumor may not always cause pain, but will sometimes need to be surgically removed if excessive bleeding occurs.
Malignant or cancerous tumors are obviously more of a health concern, but can be prevented and even treated effectively. The most common form of liver cancer in adults is hepatocellular carcinoma. This type of cancer begins in the hepatocytes, and three out of four cases of liver cancer are hepatocellular carcinoma. In most cases, this disease begins in one part of the liver and takes different growth patterns, and in later stages of the cancer development, the cancer will spread to other parts of the liver, and even other body parts.
Excessive use of alcohol and tobacco are among the main causes for liver cancer, since cirrhosis, or scarring of the tissue of the liver occurs as a result of alcohol abuse. Men who struggle with hepatitis are also at great risk for liver cancer, since hepatitis weakens the liver and makes it much easier for cancer to form. Men are also more at risk for liver cancer because of the use of anabolic steroids, which many athletes use to increase their athletic performance.
Currently, the only proven effective ways to eliminate liver cancer is to have surgery to remove the tumor, or to receive a liver transplant. If the surgeon removes all visible cancer at the time of surgery, the chances for survival are greater, and the risk of developing the cancer again is significantly reduced. For the most part, complete removal for most liver cancers isn’t possible, and most people with cirrhosis of the liver can not have surgery since the liver is too severely damaged.
Radiation therapy or ablation (destroying the tumor without removing it) are also possible treatment options for liver cancer; however, it is best to have a doctor assess the stage of cancer to suggestion a proper treatment option.
One of the best ways for men to reduce the risk of developing liver cancer is to be vaccinated for hepatitis B and C, since there is no cure for this infection, and is one of the major factors that can lead to liver cancer. Significantly reducing alcohol intake and eliminating smoking are also very effective ways to prevent liver cancer. There are also a number of foods that can help to reduce the risk of liver disease in men. Any foods with natural antioxidant properties, like fruits and vegetables (i.e. leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit, beets and gourd fruits like melon and papaya), especially those high in Vitamins C and E, and a diet rich in fiber will help the body to effectively fight off infection and will keep bile secretions regular.
High blood pressure or hypertension
Men are not necessarily at higher risk for high blood pressure, however, due to factors like stress on the job or lack of sleep, hypertension effects a significant amount of men each year. Men may also be more at risk for hypertension due to excessive smoking and drinking and extremely high cholesterol levels. Diabetes is also a another factor that can raise blood pressure, so men with diabetes are encouraged to pay special attention to diet and make sure to take insulin on time each day.
Blood pressure is medically defined as the force in the arteries when the heart beats, which is systolic pressure, and when the heart is at rests, which is diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). High blood pressure occurs when an individual has greater than 140 mmHg systolic pressure or 90mmHg diastolic pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk of strokes and coronary heart disease, which is why it is important to treat hypertension as early as possible.
There are no specific ways to detect high blood pressure, other than to have blood pressure tested regularly. However, consuming foods that are low in fat and cholesterol will help to reduce the risk of hypertension and lower blood pressure. Reducing the intake of foods high in salt will also lower blood pressure. Only about 6 teaspoons of salt should be consumed per day, so it’s important to read food labels and seasonings before purchasing them. Taking time to be physically active each day will keep blood flow in the body regular as well; it’s best to try to take a walk after dinner to aid in digestion, or to run in the morning to increase blood flow.