Men at risk for 'silent killers'

| 05 Jun 2015 | 05:21

Many fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, and boyfriends share a common ailment called “Doctor-itis” — avoidance of a trip to the doctor. Whether it’s a “macho” thing, as some research suggests, or simply fear or lack of time, the scary fact is that men don’t take time out of their day to see a doctor.

Men are at a higher risk for “silent killers” like hypertension and diabetes, so regular doctor visits should be a priority. More than half of all American men haven’t even seen a doctor in the past year, despite these hidden diseases that could kill them. Consider this:

More men (31 percent) have five or more alcoholic drinks in a day, versus 14 percent of women.

More men (21 percent) over age 18 smoke cigarettes, versus 18 percent of women.

Of men under age 65, 18 percent don’t have health insurance.

More men are employed in dangerous occupations, such as construction workers, firefighters, police officers and miners.

Experts believe healthy behaviors in men and boys are discouraged by “macho” society.

More men are involved in suicides and car accidents, linked to depression and “risky” youthful behaviors.

A survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Men’s Health Network (MNH) reveals that in the past year, men made half as many doctor visits for prevention as women, although men have a higher death rate for fatal illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

“While many men have the attitude that "nothing’s wrong," or "I’m fine," there are several medical problems that don’t present symptoms and can lead to trouble down the road if they aren’t addressed,” says Dr. D. Bruce Irwin, founder of American Family Care. “Most men are guilty of ‘doctor avoidance,’ and we’re urging men to step up and take charge of their health, just as they do with other aspects of their lives.”

He said a routine checkup, paired with screenings and lifestyle changes, if necessary, can reduce the risk of chronic illness for men, as well as the chances of needing surgery later in life.

"We want men to embrace a healthy lifestyle and visit the doctor to get the care they need and deserve," he said.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Mayo Clinic, Men’s Health Network and National Institutes of Health