Many ailments distinguish between men and women. Some are obvious, such as ovarian cysts or testicular cancer, but others can affect men or women but have a marked preference for one or the other. Here are the biggest health risks for men:
- Heart disease is the number one health threat to men. It’s a lifestyle-related condition, meaning that the way to avoid it is by leading a healthy lifestyle. That means watching your diet—particularly cholesterol and saturated fats—not drinking too much, not smoking, getting enough exercise, minimizing stress, and keeping chronic conditions under control.
- Cancer, overall, is another big risk. Prostate cancer is exclusively male, and lung cancer, skin cancer, and colorectal cancer also frequently strike men. Not smoking and watching your diet are useful here too. So is monitoring your health, since early detection is vital for keeping cancer under control.
- Car accidents aren’t exclusive to men, but they are often fatal to men, the third biggest health risk. Wear your seat belt and drive carefully.
- Lung disease is fourth on the list, particularly smoking-related conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, including emphysema and bronchitis. Smoking and environmental pollutants are the biggest culprit for lung disease, though you should also take preventative steps to avoid cold, flu, and other respiratory infections.
- Stroke becomes more likely as you get older, and some people have a family history of this, the fifth biggest threat to men’s health. However, there are also risk factors you can do something about. As with heart disease, exercise, a healthy weight, and not smoking will lower your stroke risk.
- Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to weight and to diet. Talk to your doctor about your diabetes risk and what you can do to avoid it.
- Suicide is the seventh leading cause of fatalities among men. Men are brought up not to talk about emotions, but that conversation can save your life.
As this list demonstrates, not smoking is the single biggest step you can take to protect your health. However, it’s also important to—and this is something men frequently have trouble with—see a doctor regularly and get annual checkups, so you can stay on top of developing and preventable health issues.