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In the Spotlight

Top 5 Health Threats to Men

Live a longer and healthier life

A Veteran talking to his doctor Even if you already feel healthy, a little planning can help you stay that way. The top threats to men's health aren't secrets: they're known, common, and often preventable. The good news is that making a few changes can lower your risk of problems.

It's important to be aware of possible dangers to your health and make changes in your life. Remind yourself of these top threats and how to avoid them.

Heart disease: the leading men's health threat

One in four men has some form of heart disease. It's the leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors depend on age, gender, race, and family history. You may not be able to change those factors, but you can reduce your risk by:

Lung cancer: still a health threat

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. It's good to know what symptoms to look for so you know when to see your doctor. If you're concerned about lung cancer, be on the lookout for these signs:

  • A cough that doesn't go away and gets worse or has blood in it

  • Constant chest pain or shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness

  • Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis

  • Swelling of the neck and face

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss

  • Fatigue

The earlier cancer is found, the better your chances of beating it. But, the best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. Talk with your VA health care team and learn about more ways for Veterans to quit smoking today.

Prostate cancer: one in nine men will be diagnosed during their lifetime

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among American men. It usually grows slowly and occurs in men over 65 years old. If you notice the following symptoms, talk to your health care provider right away.

  • Problems passing urine, such as pain, difficulty starting or stopping

  • Lower back pain

  • Pain with ejaculation

There is no way to know if you'll get prostate cancer. The older a man is, the higher his risk of getting it. Talk with your doctor to take the next steps in identifying prostate cancer earlier. You can make changes to live a healthier, cancer-free life.

Depression and suicide: easy to overlook

Depression is not a personal weakness or character flaw. Most experts believe depression can result from family history, early life experiences, stressful events, or a combination of these factors. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe and include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless

  • Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most of your daily activities

  • Gaining or losing weight

  • Sleeping too much or not enough

  • Feeling tired or have little energy

  • Eating more or less than usual almost every day

The signs and symptoms of depression may be hard to notice at first. It's important to be aware of your thoughts, moods, and behaviors. Take My HealtheVet's anonymous online test to help you consider getting help. Even the most severe cases of depression are treatable.

Diabetes: the silent health threat

Anyone can get diabetes, but it's more common among people over 40. Other factors include being overweight or lacking physical activity. See more here: 

  • Family history

  • Certain races, such as African American or Native American

  • If you take certain medicines

You can't change certain risk factors, but you can make changes to prevent diabetes. If you're worried about diabetes, explore ways to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and eat nutritious, low-calorie foods

  • Stay active and try to reduce stress levels

  • Have regular check-ups with your doctor

As you make these changes, use My HealtheVet's Track Health feature to monitor vitals and the food and activity journals to keep track. Using these tools and making a few changes can help you live a long and healthy life.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Which threat worries you the most?