Movember: 5 main health issues affecting men
This Movember, we are raising awareness of the 5 main health issues that can affect men. Learn how small changes in your everyday life can help prevent these health issues.
Across the world, men die an average six years younger than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable and can be treated if found early enough (1). The good news is that making a few small lifestyle changes can significantly lower your risk of developing the common health issues that can affect men.
This Movember, we are raising awareness of the 5 main health issues that can affect men and discussing how minor changes can be implemented to your everyday life in order to prevent these health issues.
In the UK, 1 in 10 men have diabetes and are 40% more likely to die prematurely of the disease than women (2). Diabetes is a condition that causes high blood sugar. Normally, a hormone called insulin which is produced by the pancreas moves the blood sugar from your blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. Yet, in a person with diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin to move the blood sugar into the cells or cannot use the insulin it does produce effectively.
There are two main types of diabetes which can affect men:
Type 1 – is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made.
Type 2 – is a result of the body becoming resilient to insulin and sugar builds up in your blood.
As type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease it does not have much to do with diet and lifestyle, however type 2 diabetes can be controlled and improved by making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy well-balanced diet, increasing your levels of physical activity, losing weight and stopping smoking if you do so already.
It has been reported in the UK, men are more likely than women to be overweight or obese (67.2% of men compared with 61.5% of women) with research suggesting that ratio is likely to increase over time (2). Furthermore, it has been found that men are less likely to join weight loss programmes and have a lower chance of attaining a healthy body weight than obese women (3).
Obesity is associated with several serious and potentially life-threatening conditions including stroke, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some types of cancer.
Dietary choice is a key contributor to obesity, therefore making healthier choices is the first action to take to prevent obesity. Eating a well-balanced diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains and checking the calorie information on food can help you to stay within your daily calorie limit.
Although staying within your daily calorie limit will help you to lose weight, physical activity can assist in maintaining a healthy weight, as well as helping to prevent and manage more than 20 conditions, such as a reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by 40% (4).
Currenlty, 16.8% of the UK’s male population are dealing with depression and although it has been reported women are twice as likely to experience depression than men, men are less likely to reach out for help (5,6,7). Depression can affect people in many ways and can cause a wide range of symptoms. They range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.
While, talking to somebody else may be the last thing you want to do when feeling depressed, this is first step in taking action. Or if you don’t feel like talking, try writing down how you feel. Keeping active can also help with symptoms of depression. Getting outside, even if its just for a walk can help to clear your mind and keep you physically fit. It is also best to avoid alcohol and drugs. Although it may make you feel better for a couple of hours, in the long run it can make symptoms of depression worse.
According to Heart UK, men are more likely to have high cholesterol than women (8). This is due to the protective role of the hormone estrogen, which tends to increase HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels in women. While we all need to cholesterol in our blood for our bodies to be healthy, if cholesterol levels become too high this can lead to life threatening health problems in the future, including heart attacks and strokes.
Many factors can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol including:
- Your age – men 45 years old and over are more at risk of having high cholesterol.
- Your lifestyle – eating too much saturated fats, smoking, drinking more alcohol than is recommended, not being physically active.
- Your genes – high cholesterol can be genetic, meaning you can inherit from your parents.
High cholesterol is very common, yet many people don’t know they have it which is why everyone should have a cholesterol check. If levels of cholesterol in the body are too high, a doctor will recommended making a few lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, increasing physically activity and consuming a well-balanced diet including cholesterol lowering foods.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is becoming increasingly common due to the lifestyles we lead. Our food habits, sleep patterns and levels of stress are all major contributions to the increasing number of cases. Furthermore, studies have shown that men are more prone to hypertension than women, especially below the age of 50 (9). Whereas, women are more susceptible after the menopause.
High blood pressure rarely has any noticeable symptoms; however, it can lead to several very serious health problems such as heart attacks and strokes if left untreated. In order to prevent or treat high blood pressure, men can implement a few small lifestyle changes including; reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, cutting back on using salt on foods, losing weight if overweight, cutting down on caffeine and stopping smoking if they already do so.
It comes as no surprise that men do not welcome the thought of visiting their doctors when they start to show signs of being unwell. A recent study of 1000 men found that three quarters will avoid going to the doctors when showing signs of an illness as they don’t have the time or don’t think it is important (10). However, our service provides a wide range of blood tests for men which you can do in the comfort of your own home or at a clinics at a time which suits you.
This Movember, we have up to 25% off all our Men’s Health Blood Tests. Our Well Man UltraVit Blood Test provides a comprehensive health check including the key health markers for cholesterol, liver and kidney function, diabetes plus important measures of vitamins, minerals and hormones. Shop today to save 20%.
There is no better time than now to understand where you stand on the 5 main health issues which can affect men.
Get to know yourself inside out today!
1. WHO (2014). The men’s health gap: men must be included in the global health equity agenda. [online] World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/8/13-132795/en/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
2. Baker, C. (2019). Obesity Statistics. [ebook] London: House of Commons, p.7. Available at: http://file:///C:/Users/AlexHesketh/Downloads/SN03336%20(7).pdf [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
3. Discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk. (2016). Managing obesity in men. [online] Available at: https://discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk/content/highlight-000844/managing-obesity-in-men [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
4. NHS (2019). Obesity - Treatment. [online] nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/treatment/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
5. Men's Health (2019). How to Spot the Signs and Symptoms of Depression. [online] Men's Health. Available at: https://www.menshealth.com/uk/mental-strength/a26441606/signs-of-depression/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
6. The Prince's Responsible Business Network (2016). Mental Health: Recognising Gender Differences. [ebook] The Prince's Responsible Business Network. Available at: http://6. file:///C:/Users/AlexHesketh/Downloads/mental_health_and_gender_factsheet.pdf [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
7. RC PSYCH (2015). Depression and men. [online] RC PSYCH ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS. Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/depression-and-men [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
8. HEART UK (2019). What is High Cholesterol? | HEART UK- The Cholesterol Charity. [online] Heartuk.org.uk. Available at: https://www.heartuk.org.uk/cholesterol/what-is-high-cholesterol [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
9. Everett, B. and Zajacova, A. (2016). Gender Differences in Hypertension and Hypertension Awareness Among Young Adults. Biodemography and Social Biology, 61(1), pp.1-17.
10. Hall, A. (2018). Three quarters of men 'don't visit doctor when showing signs of illness'. [online] Available at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/almost-third-men-avoid-visiting-12715536 [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].