12 List of Men's Good Health Choices
Excerpt By Dr.
Timothy Johnson, ABCNews.com
Smoking is estimated to kill 400,000 Americans every single year.
That's the equivalent death toll of three jumbo jet crashes every
single day! Choosing not to smoke is, without a doubt, the single
most important health decision you can make.
your weight. This is not as easy a No. 2 choice for me as was
No. 1. That's because the connection between obesity and actual
illnesses or deaths is often more indirect than is the case with
smoking. But I have come to accept the estimates of the Surgeon
General's Office that obesity is responsible for approximately 350,000
deaths every year, and that if American men continue to stop smoking
in large numbers, it may even replace smoking as the No. 1 cause
of death for men.
alcohol in moderation. This message can be taken in both positive
and negative terms. Truly moderate drinking (one to two standard
size drinks per day) does reduce the risk of coronary artery disease,
the No. 1 cause of death in our country. However, excessive drinking
is a major cause of both physical disease and social tragedy. Approximately
10 percent of people who start drinking socially will become alcoholics.
The decision to drink even socially should not be taken lightly.
regularly. This health practice has enormous physical and emotional
benefits. Besides reducing the risk for high blood pressure, high
blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis, regular exercise
can be helpful in raising our general mood and reducing the risk
regular cholesterol and blood pressure tests. Both high cholesterol
and high blood pressure can be described as "silent killers," since
they can cause extensive damage to our heart and arteries without
producing any telltale symptoms until it is often too late. Therefore,
the only way to find out if you have a potential problem is to get
regular colonoscopy and prostate serum antigen testing. I strongly
believe in the value of both of these tests in detecting two common
and potentially lethal diseases colon and prostate cancer
when they are still curable. There are not many cancers that
we can either prevent of detect early enough to make a difference,
but these are two.
a baby aspirin every day (for most men). Unless you are truly
allergic to aspirin (very rare) or at high risk for gastrointestinal
bleeding (not very common), this daily dose of aspirin is one of
the most beneficial and simple things you can do. It acts to reduce
the risk of clot formation in the arteries leading to your heart
and brain, thereby reducing the risk of both heart attacks and strokes.
And it probably acts in many other beneficial ways we don't yet
safe sex. In this age of AIDS, you could make a good case for
putting this higher on the list. But even less lethal sexually transmitted
diseases can cause a wide range of disability, such as infertility
problems and pelvic pain in women. And unless you are in a truly
monogamous relationship, there is no good way to tell a partner
is safe, so prevention using condoms is key.
regular glaucoma screenings. I put this on the list because
glaucoma is a major cause of blindness and it usually doesn't produce
visual symptoms until it has caused significant damage to the optic
nerve. That's why eye doctors call it a "thief in the night." The
other benefit of glaucoma screening is that your ophthalmologist
will have the opportunity to check for other eye problems such as
a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF. Skin cancers are the most common
of all cancers by far. Fortunately, most of them (basal cell and
squamous cell carcinomas) are rarely lethal, though they can certainly
cause local disfigurement if not diagnosed early. Melanoma is both
disfiguring and lethal, so it must be diagnosed as early as possible.
But since it is so inconvenient to do a truly thorough check of
the skin, at least by yourself, prevention is a very helpful tool.
And that means the use of sunscreen and protective clothing and
the avoidance of direct sun exposure between the "high hours" of
10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest.
good fats and good carbs in your diet. Some of the standard
nutritional advice of the past is undergoing change. And this is
particularly true in the growing emphasis on making a distinction
between good fats and carbs such as omega-3 fatty acids and
whole grains, which should actually be increased in our diet
and bad fats and carbs, such as saturated fats and highly refined
grains, which of course should be decreased. In other words, just
"cutting down" on fats and carbs is not precise enough anymore.
time for some kind of meditation/relaxation practice. This goal
is very flexible. It is more important to set aside some time for
relaxation than it is to worry about a specific relaxation technique.
Even physical activity that is "relaxing" in the sense that it gets
your mind away from stressful thoughts can be helpful. All of us
should take the time to "get away" mentally and emotionally at least
once a day, wherever we are, or whatever we are doing.
Tips are excerpted from Dr. Timothy Johnson's OnCall Guide to
Men's Health by Dr. Tim Johnson, Hyperion, Copyright May 2002.
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