Your Life, Your Lifestyle: How Men Can Lower Their Chance of Getting CancerPosted on by
By Demetrius Parker
Health Communication Specialist
Men, June is the time of year when our families and friends acknowledge how much they care for us. Father’s Day and Men’s Health Month are celebrated this month. This is a time when we should also focus on ourselves.
Did you know that men have higher rates of getting and dying from cancer than women? Some of the cancers that most often affect men are lung, prostate, colorectal, and skin cancers. By focusing on our lifestyle and following science-based recommendations for cancer screenings and checkups, we can lower our risks.
We should take time to refine our quest to create a healthy lifestyle. We can look for extra help that supports us with living our best quality of life for our families and ourselves. I’m grateful to my colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for providing us with tips on how to lower our risks for getting or dying from cancer.
Focusing on Our Lifestyle Choices and Changes
Men, don’t we love the outdoors and bright sunshine? While being outdoors is great, we have to remember that skin cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The highest rate of new skin cancers is among non-Hispanic white men. Men of color are at risk of skin cancer, too. We all have to protect our skin.
We can adopt other important lifestyle choices to help prevent cancer:
- Be tobacco free.
- If you smoke, try to quit and avoid other people’s smoke.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Keep a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and that limits or avoids red meats and highly processed foods.
- Stay physically active.
Get Your Cancer Screening Tests When They’re Due
Men, we are known for avoiding doctor’s visits. Creating a partnership with our health care provider that includes discussions about cancer screenings is important, because they check for cancer before we have symptoms. These tests can help save our lives.
Again, it’s important to talk to our doctor about which screening tests are right for us. Although cancer screening tests have many benefits, some tests have risks. With your doctor, check out the guidance for these screening tests.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Our risk increases as we get older. African American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other races. Also, all men have increased risk for prostate cancer when one or more close relatives have had prostate cancer. Let’s make sure we talk with our doctor about our risks and benefits for prostate cancer screening if we are 55 to 69 years old. We should learn when and if prostate cancer screening is appropriate for us.
Men, quite simply, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Getting screening tests regularly is one of the most effective ways for us to protect ourselves from colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer screening tests can help prevent this cancer or find it early, when treatment is more effective. If you’re 45 to 74 years old, talk with your doctor about the several screening tests available to you.
It Matters What We Think and Believe About Ourselves
Along with what we do physically to protect ourselves from cancer, we also owe it to ourselves to support our mental health and wellness. For cancer survivors, hearing from other men who share how they handled their cancer diagnosis can help. CDC shares inspiring stories of cancer survivors, like the one from Mark. “Give yourself leniency. You have to give yourself that room to grow into the new you,” he says.
Improving men’s health is a family opportunity. We aren’t alone on our journey of self-care and our quest to be our best self.