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5 Surprising Diseases That Affect Men's Health

June 11, 2015

June is Men’s Health Month, the perfect time to educate men about how to take charge of their health.

At the PUR Clinic, this is one of our goals year round. But this month is as good a time as any to share this message with a wider audience. On June 11, Dr. Parekattil and myself will embark on our second ever Drive for Men’s Health. Within nine days, we’ll attempt a marathon drive from Clermont to New York City to California.

Why are we doing this? Because we want to encourage men to make their health a priority and increase awareness of men’s health issues.

Think about it. The idea of men’s health often is confined to certain topics—vasectomies, prostate cancer and groin pain. But it is so much more than that. Some health issues may affect women more than men, but that doesn’t mean men don’t have a risk of getting them, too. I believe that education is an important part of staying healthy. The more you know, the more proactive you’ll be. So, with this in mind, here’s information about five surprising health conditions that affect men.

Male Breast Cancer

Though breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than men, about 2,350 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Similar to women, the early warning signs and risk factors are the same. A lump in the breast may indicate cancer, which a mammogram or sonogram can diagnose. On average, men with breast cancer are 68 years old, and about 20 percent of men with the disease have a close male or female relative who also had breast cancer.

Osteoporosis

Though women account for 80 percent of osteoporosis cases, one in five men will get the disease in his lifetime.

Changes in estrogen levels are a significant reason women get this disease more than men. However, age also plays a big role in bone health. For men over 50, the risk of getting osteoporosis is even greater than the risk of getting prostate cancer. Also, by age 65 or 70, men lose bone mass at the same rate as women, putting them at greater risk for breaks and fractures. Because men typically are older than women when they get osteoporosis, the consequences of the disease often are more serious.

Smoking, excessive alcohol use, poor diet and lack of exercise also affects your bone health. However, eating a healthy balanced diet can restore bone strength. If you think you are at risk for osteoporosis and are over age 45, get a bone density test to assess your risk and talk to a doctor about ways to restore your bone strength.

Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid issues occur when the body produces too much or too little of the thyroid hormone, leading to enlarged glands and cancer in more serious cases.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism, affects two million men every year. That number is significant enough for men to pay closer attention to this health issue. If you feel fatigue or a sense of cold, experience depression or trouble concentrating, have sore muscles, weight gain or swelling, you may have a thyroid issue. Visit your doctor for a regular check-up. If your doctor suspects a thyroid disorder, he or she can order tests to assess your hormone levels and recommend treatment such as thyroid hormone replacement to manage your symptoms.

Varicoceles

You’ve heard of varicose veins, but did you know that something similar can happen in the scrotum?

Varicocele occurs when the veins in the scrotum enlarge, leading to reduced sperm quality and sperm production in some men. If you are among the 15 percent of men with this condition, you likely won’t experience symptoms. The condition is unsightly, but in most cases you don’t need treatment. But if the condition is painful or affects fertility, surgery can seal off the affected vein and redirect blood flow to normal veins.

Eating Disorders

There’s a common misconception that only women suffer from eating disorders, but this isn’t true. There’s a spectrum that includes everything from anorexia and bulimia to binge-eating, the latter of which often affects men. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, men accounted for 10 percent of eating disorder patients brought to the attention of mental health professionals and three million men suffer from binge-eating disorders. Binge-eating is just as dangerous as under-eating. Eating when you’re not hungry or when you’re more than full isn’t healthy. Unfortunately, you’ll hear people say it’s ok because men eat more anyway,  but if this behavior gets to a point where it has a negative impact on your health, you need to get treatment.

This month—and every month, for that matter—make your health a priority. As men we often delay going to the doctor or put work, family and social obligations above our health. If you have ongoing pain or something feels amiss, there’s nothing wrong with checking it out.

For more information and health tips, follow Dr. Brahmbhatt on Twitter and Facebook

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