A BABY girl born today can expect to live to 83, while a newborn boy’s life expectancy is 79. But why do women tend to outlive fellas?
Blokes are notoriously bad at looking after themselves.
And decades of society heaping pressure on them to “man up” has had a detrimental effect on their health, according to Brendan Maher of men’s health charity Movember.
He told The Sun: “Men still feel under pressure to conform to age-old masculine stereotypes, which stops them from talking about the things that keep them up at night. That can have a really negative impact on their mental wellbeing.”
Worryingly, male suicides hit a 20-year peak in 2019 – a grim situation only likely to worsen as the pandemic drags on.
Men are more hesitant to visit their GP too, with lockdown again making rates drop further.
Last year, just 12 per cent of guys aged over 45 spoke to their doctor about their prostate cancer risk, less than half checked their testicles for signs of cancer and just one in five have opened up to a friend when facing a tough time.
But women can help men take care of their health, according to Anne-Cecile Berthier, UK director for Movember.
Anne-Cecile says: “Everyone has men in their lives who they care about. We ask you to encourage the men you love to think about their health.”
Here, Clare O’Reilly asks experts to draw up a “men’s health MoT” to help you – and your man – spot the signs of seven common male health problems.
COVID-19 and lockdown measures threaten a “second pandemic“ of mental health issues.
Michelle Terry, chief exec of Movember, says: “We know many guys struggle with their mental health and when it comes to suicide, men are disproportionately impacted, accounting for three out of four people who take their own lives.”
Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 34, Movember found, with 4,300 taking their own lives each year.
Signs: A woman’s intuition is strong, so if you feel like your partner is weighed down, you are probably on to something.
If their low mood is stopping them doing things, it could be the sign of a mental health problem.
A lack of sleep, reduced libido, getting angry easily, not caring about their appearance, getting agitated and drinking more can be signs too.
When to seek help: Stephen Buckley of the charity Mind says: “If you notice changes that last longer than two weeks, it’s important to try and encourage your loved one to speak to their GP.
“Your doctor should be able to outline the help and support available. They can recommend things such as talking therapies, exercise or medication.”
If you or a loved one feel suicidal call Samaritans on 116 123 or 999 for an ambulance in an emergency.
THE prostate is a walnut-sized gland found only in men. It surrounds the urethra – the tube that carries urine out of your body – and produces semen.
The prostate tends to grow as a man gets older, which can cause problems, particularly over 50.
In most cases an enlarged prostate won’t be down to cancer. But the disease is the most common cancer in men, with 40,000 cases diagnosed each year. So it is vital to get any symptoms checked out.
Comedian Stephen Fry, 63, and former BBC newsreader Bill Turnbull, 64, have helped raise awareness by speaking out about their experience of the disease.
Signs: Symptoms are very similar to an enlarged prostate, which affects one in three men over 50.
The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Doctor of the Year 2019, GP Matthew Boulter, says: “You might have prostate enlargement if you have one or more of the following:
"Your urine flow is weaker and takes longer to empty the bladder; you have to wait for a while to start peeing; small amounts of urine trickle out after you finish; you pass urine more often than normal; you need to get to the toilet quickly; a feeling of not quite emptying your bladder.”
If your partner complains of pain when peeing or having sex, it could be a sign of prostatitis, when the gland becomes swollen.
When to seek help: If your partner is having trouble on the loo, it could be a sign something is not right.
Encourage him to make an appointment with the GP, particularly if any of his close relatives has had prostate cancer.
‘I had not one type of cancer but TWO’
ACTOR Adam Patterson was just 23 when he noticed a lump on his testicle in August 2014.
He says: “It grew really fast in a week or two. I went to the doctor, who referred me for a scan and I was diagnosed with epididymitis, a condition linked to urinary tract infections.”
Adam, now 28, says it was only by chance that his cancer was picked up, when a radiographer said they might as well scan his left testicle while he was there.
He adds: “There was a lot of quiet pointing behind the screen and whispering. They said they’d report back to my GP. When I went to see him, he said they had found two types of cancer and I needed surgery the next week.”
His operation took just 20 minutes but Adam, from Bridge Of Allan, Stirling, needed two rounds of chemotherapy that left him in such serious pain that he passed out.
He says: “When I finished chemo, I was told I was cancer-free and they didn’t expect to see me again.
“It was such a relief but the emotional journey started after that. When you’re diagnosed, you start this journey of scans, chemo, surgery and tests.
“It’s when that’s all finished you take stock of how serious everything could have been. For about 18 months I would freak out about my health, always convinced something was wrong or my cancer was back.
“If you’re reading this and have a lump or something that feels different, you have to face things head-on.
“Pretending it’s normal, when you know deep down it’s not, won’t help. The only way to get through anything is by facing up to it.”
MEN are significantly more likely to die of bowel cancer than women, says Prof Charles Knowles of Bowel Research UK.
He adds: “The disease is about one and a half times more common in men than women.
“In my experience, men are particularly poor at seeking help when they first notice symptoms, often ignoring bleeding or attributing it to piles.”
Signs: Prof Knowles continues: “The main symptoms of bowel cancer are bleeding from the back passage or blood in the stool and a persistent change in bowel habits – going more or less often.
“Other signs can include tummy pain, unexplained weight loss and tiredness.”
Factors such as your age, a family history of the disease, eating a diet high in red meat, smoking and being overweight all increase the risk of the disease.
When to seek help: The key message is that if you notice any of the above symptoms for more than four weeks, you need to see a doctor.
The disease is most common in the over-50s, so it is vital to ensure you and your partner attend regular screenings and see a doctor if symptoms arise.
There are around 2,500 cases diagnosed each year among under-50s, so don’t let age get in the way of a check-up.
WHILE most cancers are more common in older men, testicular cancer is the anomaly.
It can strike at any age but around 80 per cent of chaps diagnosed will be between 15 and 45.
So this is one to watch for not just in boyfriends and husbands but also sons and brothers.
Signs: Rob Cornes, a nursing specialist at the male cancer charity Orchid, says: “A small, painless lump attached to the body of the testicle is the most common symptom.”
Others include one testicle feeling firmer, a difference in appearance between the two , a dull ache or sharp pain, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
Men who had an undescended testicle at birth are at higher risk, as are those with a family history of the disease or poorly functioning testicles.
When to seek help: All aches, pains and abnormalities should be checked by a GP. But out of every 100 men who find something that doesn’t feel right down there, four will have testicular cancer.
JULIE Ward, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says: “There are higher rates of men than women living with heart and circulatory diseases.
“Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease, a build-up of fatty material called atheroma inside your coronary arteries.”
Signs: Symptoms include chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away.
It might feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest, pain that could spread to your left or right arm or travel to your neck, jaw, your back or stomach. You might feel sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
When to seek help: If you suspect your partner is suffering a heart attack dial 999 immediately. Don’t worry if you are unsure – better safe than sorry.
It is really important to seek medical attention regardless, as quickly as possible.
The NHS is urging people during the Covid pandemic to make sure they act on any symptoms, as more people could be dying of heart attacks and stroke for fear of putting pressure on the NHS or catching Covid.
‘Men think we’re indestructible, but I had to face my mortality’
CHRISTIAN Schroeder was on holiday in Croatia when he was struck by searing back pain.
The 53-year-old says: “I’d not had pain like that before so I got it seen to.
“Doctors couldn’t tell me what it was, so they did some routine blood tests.”
The results showed Christian’s PSA levels – an indicator of potential prostate cancer – were raised. The dad-of-two and Movember ambassador was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer in February 2018.
His doctor advised surgery but Christian was told he had to lose weight and get fit first to give him the best chance of a full recovery, without incontinence or impotence.
Christian, a chief executive at a marketing agency, who lives in Hammersmith, West London, with his wife Rowena, 52, and daughters Hannah, 14, and nine-year-old Abigail, says: “While I’ve made a full recovery, having aggressive prostate cancer has completely changed my life.
“Men tend to think we’re indestructible but I had to face my own mortality and it changed my priorities.
“I’m lucky but I know how useless men can be at seeking help when we have a health issue.
“If you are reading this and have anything that’s niggling you regarding your health, go now and make an appointment to see your GP. You could be saving your own life.”
THE country is on the brink of a liver disease epidemic, warns Pamela Healy of the British Liver Trust.
The problem is caused by drinking too much alcohol. Pamela says: “Men are at much higher risk of developing an alcohol-related liver problem.
“The rate of alcohol-related mortality for men is more than double that for women and liver disease is responsible for more than one in ten deaths of men aged 40 to 49 years.”
Signs: The NHS’s advice is to drink no more than 14 units a week – that is approximately six pints or ten small glasses of wine.
Signs your partner could be drinking too much include losing interest in hobbies, seeming tired or irritable, not being able to say no to a drink, feeling anxious or depressed and struggling to sleep.
When to seek help: The NHS recommends that if a man is regularly drinking more than 50 units a week, he should have a liver scan.
That is around 18 pints of beer a week – which soon mount up.
Ms Healy says: “If you are worried about your partner’s drinking and potential liver damage, speak to your GP, who should be able to signpost to support services.
“Damage to the liver is reversible in the early stages, so the best thing you can do is to cut down.”
Type 2 Diabetes
MEN aged 35 to 54 are almost twice as likely to have Type 2 diabetes as women the same age, according to Diabetes UK.
This kind of diabetes is linked to being overweight and is caused by the body having problems processing the hormone insulin.
Signs: Dr Sarah says: “Symptoms include tiredness that won’t go away no matter how much rest you get, being thirsty more than normal, weeing more often than normal and boils which can occur anywhere on the body.”
When to seek help: You should make sure your partner sees the GP if they have any symptoms. The doc will be able to do a blood or urine test to diagnose the condition.
In many cases, eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise can help put Type 2 diabetes into remission.
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