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It's A Guy Thing...

Men’s Health Problems & Solutions

Written by: Dr Erik Boudreau, ND FABNO

Ok, let me first admit that I personally don’t know of any men who routinely use the phrase “it’s a guy thing” (I know I’ve never uttered the words out loud). However, I think that makes it the perfect title for this blog -- a discussion of various things men don’t do (and probably should) as well as the things they do (and probably shouldn’t).

It’s also important to state that as we delve into a series of “men vs. women” health facts, we are simply observing the general tendencies between groups. While there are always exceptions and outliers, the fact remains that studying men’s health trends can help us hone in on their greatest areas of need, with the ultimate goal of saving lives.

Great Big Generalization: Men don’t like go to the doctor.

In Canada and the U.S. (and much of the world), men are much less likely to get routine physicals and blood work than women, or to see their doctor to discuss a specific health concern. The reasons why are many, but for some men, it’s because they perceive medical attention as a slight on their sense of masculinity. For others, it’s out of fear -- “what if it’s cancer?” (ignorance truly is bliss… until it’s not). And still others are just too busy with jobs, families, and other responsibilities to concern themselves with their own inner workings (or dysfunctions, as it were). And it’s not just confined to MD’s. Integrative health care providers like naturopathic doctors also, on average, see a greater number of female vs. male patients (a recent poll stated that 49% of Canadian women were familiar with naturopathic medicine, vs. only 36% of male respondents).

At this point, I’ll spare you the rhetorical question, and just say outright that this is bad. How bad? (sorry, rhetorical question) The average life expectancy of a Canadian man is about 4 years shorter than the average female. This is in large part because men are 70% more likely to die from heart disease, and 40% more likely to die from stroke than women. Men are also usually diagnosed with cardiovascular disease 10-15 years before women. While this is partly due to the cardio-protective effects of estrogen (not much men can do about that), an even bigger factor is lifestyle.

It has been shown that roughly 70% of all men’s health concerns and illnesses can be avoided with a healthy diet and lifestyle. For example, you can lower your risk of heart attack by up to 60% by either: 1) exercising vigorously for 2 hours a week, or 2) getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Just imagine if you did BOTH (AND had a healthy diet, quit smoking, and cut down your alcohol consumption!). And while it’s not always possible to completely eliminate one’s risk of cancer, the very same lifestyle changes listed above can lower your risk of cancers like prostate cancer (a condition affecting 1 in every 7 men in Canada at some point in their lives).

By getting regular check-ups with your doctor, you may not avoid bad news entirely, but getting early detection can make all the difference (with early stage prostate cancer having a nearly 100% 5-year survival rate, vs. less than 30% for advanced, Stage IV prostate cancers).

The bottom line:

Through healthy dietary and lifestyle changes, and regular support from a qualified healthcare provider, men can live longer and happier lives. So make the time, dispel the “machismo” myth, and choose to live a life that’s educated, informed and motivated -- because it can make all the difference in the world.

If you’re looking to improve your health and wellness, contact Cheam Wellness Group at 604-776-2432 or to learn more about how we can work together!

(NOTE: We even have a male Naturopathic Doctor, if you feel more comfortable discussing your health concerns with a male physician.)

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