What is Men’s Health and Why is it Important?


Men die on average five years earlier than women. This concerning statistic is fairly consistent in most countries around the world. The top three causes of death for men are (in order), heart (cardiovascular) disease, cancer, and unintentional injury. These leading causes of death in men have been consistent over the past few years and they are consistent across racial and ethnic populations, according to the Center for Disease Control.

In addition to cardiovascular disease and cancer, diabetes and hypertension are higher in men as compared to women. Alarmingly, 80% of all sudden-death cases due to unrecognized heart disease, occur in men. When family and friends are asked about possible warning signs that the man may have mentioned before his death, the majority report that he never indicated a sign or symptom of heart disease (chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath) prior to the fatal event.

The good news associated with these facts is that risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancer and unintentional injury are well known and, once identified, can be modified. Those modifications can come through proper counselling on diet, lifestyle changes, and, if necessary, medical or surgical intervention.

There is a great opportunity to improve lifestyle habits in many men. In the United States, men self-report numerous risk factors for poor health, which include 21% who smoke, 34% with obesity, 31% who engage in binge alcohol drinking, and 80% who do not exercise. Improvements in these areas will add years on to a man’s life.

In addition to these numerous risk factors for poor male health, barriers also exist to health care participation amongst men. One of the main factors is the gender-specific cultural barrier amongst men to be “strong” and the view that seeking medical help may be a form of weakness. According to some research, men approach health related-problems differently than women, and thus different approaches must be utilised to offer healthcare in a way that appeals to men.

Urology and Men’s Health
Urologists play a key role in men’s health. Men will often see a urologist with medical issues such as low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or urinary difficulty. Treatment of the presenting urologic condition is important.

Yet, evaluation of the more lethal underlying condition through a systematic approach is necessary to diagnose and treat diseases related to early male death since many of these urologic issues may be related to heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, obesity, hormonal issues, or psychiatric factors. Even in the healthy male with no urologic problems, cancer screening and preventative education is a must.

Prostate Cancer

There are around 52,300 new prostate cancer cases in the UK every year, that’s more than 140 every day. In males in the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer, with around 52,300 new cases every year.

The important thing to know is that prostate cancer is completely curable when caught early and treated. As the development of prostate cancer is silent until it spreads into the body, all men between the ages of 55 and 69 should have a discussion with their primary care doctor or urologist on the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening.

Screening is a simple blood test and examination, and its risks and benefits should be discussed and offered to every man.

The goal of “men’s health” is to increase access and ease of healthcare for men, and tailor specific screening and diagnostic strategies for men at different stages of their life. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, and unintentional injury are the leading causes of death amongst men, with the incidence of each related specifically to age. All of these conditions can be prevented or modified if caught early and treated. A visit to the doctor to discuss the issues mentioned here will add years on to a man’s life, starting with your own!