Men’s Health Month is recognized every June, but it’s not a month exclusively for men. Men’s Health Month is an opportunity for men to learn more about their own health and how to protect it, but it’s also a time when women who have men in their lives—partners, husbands, brothers, fathers, friends, sons, mentors—can help support their healthy efforts.

Men have different health challenges from women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the leading causes of death among all men and of all ages are as follows:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Unintentional injury
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

By age group, the patterns are clear. Men aged 1-44 die most often from unintentional injuries. From ages, 45 to 84, cancer takes over as the leading killer of all men. For men aged 85 and older, heart disease is the top threat.

While heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injury cause untold suffering, there are steps men can take throughout their lives to help improve their health and lessen their chances of dying early.

Heart disease is a top killer worldwide and is often a silent disease, sometimes striking without other overt symptoms. It can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure.

Some common health problems are significant contributors to heart disease. The American Heart Association points to heart disease risks such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, genetics, and obesity as contributing to the condition. Cancer is often caused by similar or the same triggers. According to the American Cancer Society, some cancer risk can be mitigated with healthier lifestyle choices and habits. Smoking, obesity, diet, activity level, and screening and vaccinations can help prevent some cancers.

As the third leading cause of death for men, unintentional injury seems like one that is out of the control of most people. But there are ways to incorporate safety measures into day-to-day life that will help men stay safer.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says the complexities around what causes an unintentional injury can have roots deep in social issues. But individuals can take steps to keep themselves physically safe in many instances. Alcohol and drug use can play a major role in events that lead to an unintentional injury, as can safety and anti-violence measures in the home and neighborhood environment.

Some easy fixes are never swimming alone, always wearing a seatbelt, making sure there are no loose rugs or other fall or trip hazards at home, careful home improvement activities, nurturing relationships, and not texting or being distracted while driving. Other factors are much harder to remedy easily including equitable access to reliable healthcare and emergency services, as well as perceptions and attitudes toward violence.

As men strive to live healthier lives and take control over the factors that can impact their short- and long-term health, beginning with what they are able to control is the first step.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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