Health exams can save lives, but many men foolishly avoid them

Health screenings. They help people avoid future problems and are one of the best ways to improve the effectiveness of a health regimen. Yet when people avoid them, treatable medical conditions can turn deadly.

Despite these obvious benefits and the risks of delay, many men remain resistant to the idea of ​​doing any preventive maintenance of their body. This caveman culture, which has led to shorter lives and more disease than women, is entrenched when it comes to any kind of routine screenings or tests.

Unfortunately, but all too often, if a man suspects a car problem, he’s all over the place to the mechanic to run a diagnostic test to find the source of the problem. When an Eagles member is injured, the guys are on the edge of their seats screaming for the medical report. However, in classic male behavior, when it comes to themselves, these concerns go out the window, overtaken by complacency, neglect, and even fear. It’s a well-documented mindset.

In a survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians, 20% of men age 55 and older said they had never been screened for colon cancer. Similarly, a Cleveland Clinic survey reported that only 50% of men engage in preventative care.

And, in a widely read survey commissioned by Orlando Health, men listed being too busy and fearful of discovering a problem as the number one reason they won’t see a doctor and get the tests they need.

The importance of screenings

So why are screenings so important? Johns Hopkins Medicine says the screenings provide an early warning mechanism and can improve treatment for cancers that are particularly common in men – prostate, colon and lung.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggests the value of screenings lies in the ability to detect medical problems before they become more difficult to treat.

For those who think testing is only necessary when something is wrong, the National Institutes of Health reminds men that feeling good is no reason to forgo regular checkups and screenings. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol may have no symptoms at first. A simple blood pressure check and blood tests can identify many problems and, if you don’t have any, give you significant peace of mind.

The most common screenings

For men over 50, there is a fairly common list of screenings. The Health in Aging Foundation provides a timeline that reflects recommendations from many leading experts. They range from osteoporosis screenings to blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. Also included is a diabetes check-up and screenings for prostate and colorectal cancer. Annual hearing and vision tests are also approved, as well as dental check-ups.

Integris Health adds to the list by recommending a testicular cancer exam, skin cancer screenings and glaucoma test every 1-3 years for men aged 60-64, then every 6-12 months thereafter. after 65 years. In 2004, Midwestern health system officials were so concerned about men’s poor health habits that they created Men’s Health University, which they call Men-U. To improve the odds of men getting the tests they need, Men-U offers screenings and training at sporting events and auto shows.

Finally, Harvard Medical School recommends that men get a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm if they’ve ever smoked.

Screening and aging

As men age, good preventative medicine requires the addition of tests consistent with the increased vulnerability that maturity brings, as well as individual circumstances. While the idea of ​​more testing seems like overkill when many men can’t cover the basics, when you consider the opportunities that come with good health, it’s a manageable wallet.

Northwest Primary Care explains how progression works. In a man’s 40s, prostate screenings begin with a diabetes check. At age 50, doctors will start checking for type 2 diabetes, depression, and lipid disorders every year. Colon cancer screenings will also begin, and depending on a man’s risk profile, further examination may include mouth and lung cancer. When men reach 60, colorectal screening continues, with the potential to worsen osteoporosis. Before you turn and run, remind yourself of the time and energy you spend on the car and other activities that have less of an impact on your life.

Evidence-Based Guidelines

Consumer Reports provides additional perspective. Americans, men and women, are both under-screened and sometimes over-screened. They emphasize that medical screening is not an exact science. All projections can still miss problems.

That said, they recognize that evidence-based screenings recommended by leading medical experts can reduce harm and cost. The key, they suggest, is to discuss these guidelines as well as your medical and family history with your doctor. Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that Americans are only getting half the screenings they should.

It’s your call

As you begin the new year, how about jumping beyond sacred resolutions and doing the best you can for your health. Take your butt to the doctor and get the tests you should have had years ago. It’s the ultimate health benchmark, a simple process that can be the first installment in your return to health and fitness.


Louis Bezich, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Cooper University Health Care, is the author of “Crack The Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men Over 50.” Learn more about Louis on his website.

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