Men: cop a feel and don’t be coy about your health!

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Nutritionist Simon Bandy from Seaford based Health Plus gives the lowdown on why men should ‘man up’ when it comes to their health

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that men are famously coy when it comes to seeing their GP or seeking health advice.

I can honestly say that while women frequently ask my advice, whether it’s for themselves or a family member, the guys stay pretty silent. In fact, it’s usually the women who ask on behalf of their men!

Male Cancer Awareness Week (April 22-29) seems like a good time to raise this issue, and with the incidence of male cancers on the increase (especially of the prostate and testicles) it’s time that we men braced up and sought help if we see or feel something abnormal. Both prostate and testicular cancers have excellent survival rates, but – and I can’t stress this enough — they need to be caught early.

I think that there are a number of reasons why men are reluctant to seek help.

I’m sure that women are much more in tune with their bodies and notice any changes more quickly. Also, women seem to be much better at attending their own routine checks, including breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as checks when pregnant, which I think makes them more at ease in discussing any issues with their GP.

Every year over 43,000 men are diagnosed with testicular, prostate or penile cancer. Early detection means a higher chance of a full recovery, so it’s vital that men visit their GP when they think something might be wrong.

A frequent health problem for men over 50 is enlargement of the prostate – a small walnut-sized gland which, once enlarged, presses on the bladder.

More frequent trips to the bathroom signal that something is wrong, but it needs to be followed up.

In many cases it’s completely benign, but the increased pressure can lead to inflammation or a urine infection, both of which are unpleasant.

However, these symptoms can be an indicator of prostate cancer in some cases – the most common cancer in men.

Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with the disease every year, but survival rates are generally high if caught in the early stages.

And cancer doesn’t just affect older men – around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year, and about half of all cases occur in men between the ages of 20 and 34.

A common symptom of testicular cancer is the presence of a lump in the testicle that can be as small as a pea, or much larger.

Whilst finding a testicular lump doesn’t always indicate cancer, it’s always best to get it checked out, as again, survival rates are much higher if testicular cancer is treated in the early stages.

Think of the time and attention that we lavish on our cars - if only we spent as much effort looking after our health! General health maintenance means taking care of ourselves in line with guidelines on weight control, exercise and eating healthily, with a diet plentiful in vitamins and minerals – and if you notice any changes to your health don’t put off a visit to your doctor.

It could even save your life!

Simon Bandy is a nutritionist for natural supplements company Health Plus, which was established in Seaford over 20 years ago with a mission to promote optimum nutrition across the world. Family-owned and run since November 1991, the company supplies a wide range of British made, high quality nutritional supplements at www.healthplus.co.uk