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Why do men die younger than women?
Health advice
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Why do men die younger than women and why are their fatality rates higher for the leading causes of death? Women are especially interested in the answer as they  are the ones who find themselves alone in their later years.
In the last five years, men appear to have assumed more responsibility for their health, but lack of awareness, inadequate education and behavior patterns continued to contribute to the poor health status of American men. Of particular concern for men:
Heart disease — According to the American Heart Association, men have a greater risk of heart disease and have heart attacks much earlier than women. Men need to understand that their No. 1 killer often can be prevented. Avoiding smoking, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grain products, exercising, controlling blood pressure and stress, cutting back on fat and cholesterol, and maintaining an ideal body weight can reduce your risk.
Cancer — Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in six men, but only one in 35 will die of it.  Lung cancer remains the most common cause of cancer-related death in men. The American Cancer Society sadly estimates that 27,360 men in the United States will die of prostate cancer in 2009. Regular screenings for all types of cancer are important.
Stroke — Stroke is not only men’s No. 3 killer, but it’s one of the leading causes of disability in America. About 80 percent of strokes are caused by atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries). High blood pressure, smoking, lack of exercise and a diet high in fat and cholesterol can contribute to atherosclerosis and stroke. Although stroke is preventable, certain risk factors, such as family, age, gender and race can’t be controlled. If you’re at increased risk for stroke, control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, cut dietary fat, exercise regularly and discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking a low-dose aspirin daily.
Chronic obstructive puliminary disease — COPD is the term for a group of chronic lung conditions including bronchitis, ephysema and other disorders. The main cause of COPD is smoking and it’s strongly associated with lung cancer. A man who smokes is 10 times more likely to die from COPD than a man who does not.
Pneumonia and influenza — Pneumonia and influenza combined are the sixth leading cause of death in U.S. men. Especially when associated with other chronic conditions, pneumonia and influenza can be life threatening. Because both affect the lungs, smoking can significantly increase the effects and danger of pneumonia and influenza. A yearly flu shot can be up to 90 percent effective in preventing influenza in adults. The pneumococcal vaccine can reduce the risk of getting pneumonia by 80 percent.
Diabetes — This chronic disease has no cure. Many people become aware they have it only when they develop one of its life-threatening complications. Advanced diabetes can cause blindness, kidney disease and severe nerve damage. People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely to have heart disease and suffer from stroke. As the rate of obesity increases in the United States, so does the incidence of diabetes.
Safety and injury prevention — The average man is twice as likely to die in a car accident than a woman because they drive faster, don’t use seatbelts and are more likely to drive under the influence of  alcohol or drugs.
Important health guidelines for men:
1. Get a physical every year with age appropriate screenings. Tell your physician if you have a family history of cancer, and ask when you should be screened for prostate and colorectal cancer. Get your cholesterol checked.
2. Eat healthy and watch fat, sugar and salt intake.  
3. Limit alcohol.
4. Do not use tobacco.
5. Educate yourself on healthy lifestyle choices and plan self-exams on your testicles, skin, mouth and breast. Men can have breast cancer. Report any abnormal findings to your healthcare provider.
6. Engage in daily physical activities. Find a hobby that gives you additional exercise and helps relieve stress.
7. If you experience persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety, loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, have insomnia or want to sleep all the time, tell your physician.  You may be suffering from depression.

Ratcliffe is an information specialist with the Coastal Health District. Call her at 876-2173, ext. 236.
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