Men’s Health Month: Prostate Health

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men, and more than 2 million men in the United States are prostate cancer survivors. Although prostate cancer can be deadly, it is more often a slow forming cancer that when caught in time can be treated with very high success rates. We spent last Sunday honoring the men in our lives, but we may have neglected giving them the most important gift of all – good health. Educating is key to preventing, identifying, treating and ensuring good prostate health.

The prostate is a small walnut shaped gland located between the bladder and penis. The urethra runs through the prostate and is responsible for creating fluid to nourish and protect the sperm. It is responsible for creating the seminal fluid that transports semen out of the penis.

There are several primary prostate issues that men can develop as they age:

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate often caused by an infection. It causes trouble during urination. It is the number one reason why men under the age of 50 go to an urologist.

Enlarged Prostate occurs as the prostate begins to grow, due to various reasons. Nearly all men will develop this condition as they age. As it grows it will press on the bladder and urethra, causing difficulties during urination.

Prostate cancer is the biggest worry among prostate diseases. It is difficult to catch early, which is vital for ensuring proper and effective treatment. Early stage symptoms may be non-existent, which makes frequent and consistent check ups vital, particularly for men over 45. Like prostatitis and enlarged prostate, symptoms include frequent urination, difficult starting and stopping, weak/interrupted urinary stream, and pain or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation. Early stage prostate cancer is successfully treatable in nearly all cases, but if this cancer spreads outside the prostate then it is a far more dangerous situation.

There are several factors that increase likelihood for prostate cancer and other prostate related diseases.

Age. The Prostate cancer rate is higher for individuals older than 50, and some studies suggest that most men over 70 have some form of prostate cancer.

Family history of prostate cancer, and other related prostate diseases, including breast cancer, increases risk. African Americans have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world.

Diet. Areas with high levels of meat and dairy fat in their diets also have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. These foods are linked to higher male hormone levels, which fuel the growth of these cancerous cells. Obesity also increases one’s risk of developing prostate cancer, and other prostate diseases.

There’s little anyone can do about their family history and age, besides ensuring they receive regular screenings. However, we can decrease the risk of developing prostate diseases by making smarter and healthier decisions with our diets. Here are several diet suggestions that will help you mitigate these risks.

  • Eat five or more fruits and veggies a day.
  • Alternate whole grains over white flour/rice.
  • Limit your fat intake from meats, stay away from high fat meats such as lamb, high fat beef, pork sausage.
  • Eliminate processed meats from your diet, including: ham, bacon, corned beef, salami, hot dogs, sausages, etc.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to less than three drinks per week.

June is men’s health month and a great time to make sure that our men understand the importance of getting regular check ups to maintain health. Prostate diseases are extremely common in men, and there are numerous resources to ensure that your man is taken care of. Remind them to get a prostate check today.

Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Don’t Fall Behind this March: Prevent Colon Cancer

Among the leading cancers that affect Americans each year, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed, but the second leading cause of death. March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. This month, become an advocate for education and understanding how to prevent this disease.

In February 2000, President Clinton dedicated March as National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. In 2004, The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) introduced the “Blue Star” as the symbol for the fight against colon cancer. Wearing blue in the month of March provides a rallying symbol for patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates to encourage screenings, education and awareness of this deadly disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 140,000 Americans were diagnosed in 2014. Of that number, 50,000 would not survive. The chances of developing Colon Cancer are 1 in 20, 72 percent colon risk and 28 percent rectum risk. 90 percent of new cases occur in people 50 years of age and older. People with first-degree relatives (parent, sibling or offspring) with colon cancer are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop the disease. Early detection and education are two crucial components to decreasing the chances of the disease spreading and increasing the number of survivors.

There are measures outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to decrease you and your loved ones’ chances of developing colon cancer. According to Dr. Tim Byers, Associate Dean of Colorado Public Health, little exercise, lack of vegetables and too much red meat are attributed to 40 percent of all colon cancers.

While colon cancer is one of the most frequent diseases, surprisingly it is also one of the most preventable. Here are basic tips to stay healthy:

  • The most common defense against the development of colon cancer is through medical screenings. These are usually covered by insurance and take only about 15 minutes.
  • Discovering and removing polyps, mucous growths found in organs such as the uterus, nose and rectum, is the most effective measure to prevent the disease.
  • Exercising daily and eating healthier will drastically improve your immune system and colon health.
  • Know your family history. Colon Cancer risks are much higher among those with first-degree relatives with the disease. If you fall into this group, get screened.

Today, there are more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States. Since 2010, the rates of colon screenings have gone up from 20 to 60 percent, according to the CDC. However, one in three adults ages 50 to 75 are not being screened as recommended. Over 90 percent of those diagnosed with colon cancer, when found at a local stage (confined to the rectum or colon) survive more than 5 years. Sadly, the majority of colon cancers are not found at an early stage. This month, wear blue to encourage screenings, promote healthier living and educate those around you to do the same.

No Shave November

Every November, Men across the globe set down their razor for four week and let their facial hair grow free in the name of men’s health. What has become known as “Movember”, this scruff acts as a rallying symbol, a walking billboard to draw attention to promote numerous men’s health issues.

The Movember Foundation was started in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 by a group of 30 men. The goal of this organization is to “change the face of men’s health”, and they are doing just that. Today it has grown to include a group of more than 4 million participants in 21 countries around the world. To date it has raised more than $559 million for more than 800 different men’s health programs. Like the pink ribbons for breast cancer, moustaches have become the image of Men’s health, with numerous celebrities, athletes and political figures participating in the movement.

The organization has done amazing work for Men’s health issues by raising money and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. But where it really has excelled is by shining light on a myriad of other health issues affecting men.

Mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety are rarely discussed, especially amongst men. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, every year tens of millions of men and women are affected by mental health disorders, and only about half of those affected receive treatment—with men being disproportionately affected. There’s a stigma when it comes to men suffering from mental health illnesses, to suck it up and stick it out. But this mentality often ignores the underlying problems of this issue, and does very little to help those affected. The Movember Foundation, through No Shave November, is committed to changing this.

Individuals looking to participate can sign up on their Movember website, or can participate on their own. By signing up on the website, participants gain access to fundraising tools and educational information. Participants shave on November 1st and then let their facial hair grow until the end of the month. The purpose of the mustache/beard/scruff is to act as a talking point to pass on information regarding men’s health.

This movement isn’t exclusive to men, and Movember encourages women to join their “Mo Bros” by becoming “Mo Sistas”, helping pass on information and raise funds in the name of men’s health.

November is a great time to remember the men in our lives, and help them stay on top of their health. What are you doing to promote men’s health? Let us know below.