By Kevin Powell, Intern, Office of the Chief Medical Officer
Although one generally doesn’t think of being a dad or a dad-to-be as a health issue, there’s no question that it is. Just like taking the car in for an oil change or for the 25,000-mile checkup, dads also need to take themselves to the doctor’s office to make sure everything is running smoothly.
However there are still men who ask what does my health have to do my family? Plenty! Men’s health issues rarely affect only the male. Many of the health issues men face are silently taking their toll on the entire family unit. Now that it is Men's Health Week and Father’s Day approaches, we all should use this opportunity to educate not only ourselves, but the important men and dads in our lives as well.
Why do our fathers, sons, brothers and husbands continue to suffer, you ask? First, we must recognize the factors that impact men’s attitudes, which lead to risky health behaviors. The reasons are manifold, including: a lack of awareness, poor health education, and culturally induced behavior patterns in their work and personal lives. The end result is men’s health and well-being are deteriorating steadily.
On average, men are less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than women. They are also less likely to have health insurance, receive health screenings, or attend regular medical checkups. And because women live longer than men, they see their fathers, brothers, sons, husbands and partners suffer or die prematurely.
These factors have led to men suffering in higher death rates in 9 of the top 10 causes of death, which include cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and unintentional injuries. Fortunately, women and children are in a unique position to be able to help fight the obstacles men face in getting the health care they need.
It’s true! Moms, wives, partners and children can make a difference. Although, most men are taught from an early age to cope quietly, their loved ones can initiate changes that will benefit the entire family. Encourage the men in your life to get regular checkups and age-appropriate screenings. Regular checkups improve health and extend life.
Still need more convincing? Well, research shows that children with healthy, involved fathers do better in school, are more likely to graduate high school, have more friends, have fewer psychological problems, and are less likely to smoke, abuse drugs or alcohol, engage in risky behavior, start having sex early, or become teen parents. Start working together as family today so you can enjoy the many Father’s Days to come.
Please do your part to end the silence and remind men to stay healthy. What better time than Men’s Health Month? By encouraging the men in your life to take even the smallest symptoms seriously and discuss them with their health care providers, you’ll be helping them take a more active role in their own health care. And by educating yourself about men’s health issues and passing that information on to your loved ones, you may also be able to save a life and preserve a family.