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Top Five Health Threats to Men

To live longer, live healthier

A Veteran returned from duty greeting his children Even if you already feel healthy, a little planning can help you stay healthy. 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 lifestyle changes can lower your risk for these common 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 to men and how to avoid them.

Cardiovascular 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 your age, gender, race, and sometimes 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 health care provider. If you're concerned about lung cancer, be on the lookout for these signs:

  • A cough that doesn't go away or gets worse over time 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

Finding cancer sooner increases 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. Talk to your health care provider right away if you notice the following symptoms:

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

  • Lower back pain

  • Pain with ejaculation

There is no way to know if you will get prostate cancer. The older a man is, the higher his risk of getting prostate cancer. Talk with your health care provider for help identifying prostate cancer earlier. You can make lifestyle changes now to help yourself live a healthier life and prevent cancer.

Depression and suicide: easy to overlook

Depression is not a personal weakness or character flaw. Most experts agree 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 too little

  • Feeling tired or have little energy

  • Eating more or less than usual almost every day

Depression signs and symptoms might not be easy to see right away. That's why 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. The good news is that even the most severe cases of depression are treatable.

Diabetes: the silent health threat

Anyone can get diabetes. But it's more common if you're over 40, overweight, or don't get much physical activity. Other risk factors for diabetes include:

  • 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 help 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 your vitals. The food and activity journals can also help you record your progress. Using these tools and making a few changes can help you live a long and healthy life.

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