This week is International Men’s Health Week which works to raise awareness of men’s health issues. To mark the occasion we’ve prepared this short blog with a simple guide to the week and some of the most prevalent men’s health issues.
1) What is Men’s Health week?
International Men’s Health week is celebrated in the week leading up to Father’s Day ever year. The week was first set up in 2002 when representatives from six men's health organisations around the world met in Vienna and agreed to launch a global awareness raising campaign.
International Men’s Health week aims to increase awareness of male health issues on a global level and encourage international co-operation around men’s health policy.
2) What is the blue ribbon for?
During International Men’s Health Week you may see people wearing a blue ribbon. This is a symbol of support for the fight against prostate cancer, which is one of the biggest men’s health concerns.
The Friday of International Men’s Health Week has also been officially named ‘Wear BLUE Day’, where individuals and companies can choose to wear blue to mark the day and help fundraise. The day is also associated with the hashtag, #ShowUsYourBlue.
3) What are the top men’s health issues?
Some of the most prevalent men’s health issues include prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health. However men can be affected by a wide range of health problems and International Men's Health Week aims to demonstrate the need to ensure all health services meet the specific needs of men, boys, and their families.
Here are 5 top men’s health facts:
1) Women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive health services than men.
2) Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and is one of the top 5 cancers that kill men every year.
3) Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. Between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men.
4) Men are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
5) Men are 4 times as likely as women to commit suicide, largely because depression is often undiagnosed in men.
4) What can men do to stay on top of their health?
As is true for both men and women, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk factors for certain non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol are all important. There is also evidence to suggest that men can help to lower their risk of prostate cancer by avoiding saturated and trans fats, and incorporating so called ‘protective foods’ into their diet such as green tea and tomatoes.
Regular health checks
One of the main aims of International Men’s Health Week is to educate men about the importance of regular health check-ups. Just as women are encouraged to check their breasts every month for any lumps or unusual changes, men should do the same with their testicles. You can find tips on how to do a simple testicular self-examination here.
Equally, just as women of a certain age are advised to get regular cervical screenings, men should talk to their doctor about other screening options (e.g. colorectal) that may be relevant for them, particularly if they are at higher risk of certain diseases. Men should also take care to look out for early warning signs of prostate cancer which often goes undetected, including a burning sensation during urination, loss of bladder control, or blood in urine.
See the doctor
If in doubt, see the doctor! Evidence shows that men are far less likely to see the doctor than women when they are ill. This can often mean that early warning signs are missed and health problems are allowed to escalate. It’s therefore important that men are encouraged, including by their friends and family, to make the time to see their doctor when they need to.
You can find out more about how you can support International Men’s Health Week at the sites below.