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Tips that every man should follow

by RD & Seanne Safaii-Fabiano Ph.D.
| June 23, 2010 9:00 PM

June 14-20 commemorates Men's Health Week. This is a time to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men. On average, men die seven years sooner than women and we often contribute this to biological differences. This life expectancy gap however, has a lot to do with men's lack of seeking early health care. Early detection, treatment and prevention are the key to preventing the 15 leading causes of death.

So men, listen up....there is no better time than today to focus on your health. A simple screening from your physician can check things such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight and skin. Beginning at age 50, men should also be screened for colorectal and prostate cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, one out of two men will develop cancer some time in their lifetime. The top three cancers for men are prostate, lung and colorectal. Of these, prostate cancer is the most prevalent, affecting one out of six men. A simple blood test that measures the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA levels is an important marker for cancer. A higher than normal level can be an indicator for prostate cancer.

Colorectal cancer effects one in 18. The type of screening for colorectal cancer depends upon your risk factors. Several tests are available, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. One of the most common procedures used by gastroenterologists to is a colonoscopy, a medical procedure during which a long flexible tube is used to look inside the colon. The procedure helps detect polyps which are abnormal growths on the inside lining of the intestinal tract. While most polyps are not cancerous, some may turn into cancer so they are removed during this process.

There is extensive and consistent evidence that diet is linked to both prostate and colorectal cancers. Here is a summary of dietary changes that men should follow to reduce their risk factors:

• Adopt a plant based diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables/shoot for 5 servings or more per day

• Increase fiber intake to about 30-38 grams per day by increasing whole grains and beans/legumes

• Focus on a Low fat diet with emphasis on healthy fats

• Limit processed and refined grains/flours /sugars

• Drink plenty of fluids - non-alcoholic is better

• Practice being physically active to help achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight

If all men followed these guidelines combined with regular health screenings, the gap in life expectancy between men and women might be drastically reduced.

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