53% of men say health is just not something they talk about.
You could probably guess that men are much more likely to talk to each other about the upcoming football game or presidential election than prostate cancer or their family history of cardiovascular disease. But if men don’t talk about their health concerns even to those closest to them, then how does it impact their overall health? A survey by the Cleveland Clinic reveals the truth about men and their sometimes not-so-healthy habits.
In an effort to raise awareness about men’s health and gain insight into behaviors and attitudes surrounding health topics, the Cleveland Clinic launched their “MENtion It” campaign. They surveyed men ages 18 to 70 about their health, their understanding of health screenings, and the social settings in which they discussed their health concerns with other people.
Results from the survey found that men talk about current events, sports, and work much more often than their health (not surprising!). Only 7% of men surveyed said they talked about health with a male friend. If health does come up in conversation between men, it is likely regarding an injury, such as bragging rights from being able to tolerate the pain from a broken arm.
The survey found that most men (60%) see a doctor once a year for a check-up, but only 42% of men talk to their doctor when they have a serious health concern, including gastrointestinal issues, problems in the bedroom, or urinary issues. These issues are considered more private, which is why 48% of men said they would turn to a spouse or significant other rather than their friends, parents, or siblings.
The survey also tested knowledge about health screenings and found that most men don’t know the correct age to start to get them. Some common misconceptions about health screenings are listed below.
Cardiovascular Disease and Coronary Artery Disease
Men surveyed thought cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease screening isn’t needed until age 40. The American Heart Association actually recommends screening as early as age 20.
Age 35 is when men should start thinking about blood pressure monitoring; in reality, this should start at age 20 as well, according to the American Heart Association
Most men believed prostate cancer screening should start at age 42, when in fact the Urology Care Foundation suggests screening should begin at age 55.
Most men thought colon or rectal cancer screening should begin at age 42; this should in fact start at age 50, based on recommendations from the CDC.
While it may not be a popular topic, discussing health and staying educated on important prevention strategies is important for men’s health. If you have any health concerns that you are keeping bottled up, mention them to your friends or family, and most importantly, call your doctor.