Men in their 20s don’t have many age-based health concerns, which makes this decade a really easy time to phone it in when it comes to their health. However, this attitude of invincibility can lead to habits and behaviors that are likely to create serious health problems down the road. Here are a few to watch out for.
- Drinking: Some of the highest rates of binge drinking are from university students in their twenties. Binge drinking, even as a young adult, can trigger heart disease later in life. It’s important that men in their twenties who choose to drink do so responsibly and stay away from binge drinking.
- Skipping physical exams: Many young men don’t go to the doctor until they experience problems. Skipping routine check-ups can mean small problems go untreated until they become major and more difficult to treat. It’s important for all men to check in with their primary care doctor for regular physical exams to make sure everything’s in working order.
- Poor diet: Males in their twenties typically have a fairly high metabolism, making them appear physically fit even though they may have a poor diet. Eating fast food and pizza and not getting enough fruits and vegetables can lead to health issues in the 30s. It’s important to get a nutrient-rich diet and not only think in terms of weight.
Men in their 30s and 40s should pay special attention to preventive care, especially when it comes to the heart. Habits formed in these years could put men at an increased risk for heart disease in the late 40s and early 50s.
- Cholesterol: Men over age 35 should have their cholesterol checked every five years. Cholesterol levels are closely related to risk of heart disease, and men over the age of 45 are at the highest risk.
- Stress: Career, finances, and family obligations present a lot of opportunities for men to feel stress in their lives. Men under stress are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease or even a heart attack. It’s important to protect your body and mind with regular exercise and coping skills to handle stressful situations.
- Blood Pressure: Men are recommended to have their blood pressure screened every three to five years until age 40, when they should have it checked every year. Because high blood pressure is symptomless, many men don’t know they have it, and the only way to know is to get screened. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or kidney failure.
Men 50 and older should pay special attention to their personal risk for different types of cancers. Though colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in older men, family history and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on men’s risk for cancer. It’s important to consult with a primary care doctor to determine risk levels and necessary screenings.
- Colon Cancer: Starting at age 50, men should get screened for colon cancer, as it’s the second leading cause of death from cancer in American men and women. More than 90% of colon cancers occur in people over age 50, and the cancer is far more treatable if caught early through a screening.
- Prostate: Men should get screened for prostate cancer beginning at age 50. Almost half of men aged 50 –60 experience an enlarged prostate that at minimum causes discomfort and at its worst could lead to cancer. Enlarged prostate is considered the most common health problem among men over age 50, so it’s important to keep an eye on prostate health with a primary care doctor.
- Heart Health: It’s important to continue to monitor heart health, as heart disease is the leading cause of death in men aged 45–54. Poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise in younger years can turn into heart issues at this age, so men should assess their risk level with their doctor to determine frequency of screenings for things like cholesterol, blood pressure, and general cardiovascular health.
Shawnee Mission Health offers a men’s health program to help men in Kansas City assess their health and make positive changes towards a healthier future. For more information, visit shawneemission.org or check out our Men’s Guide to Living Healthy.