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June is Men’s Health Month. Many men like to think they’re invincible, especially when their health is concerned.
The facts tell a different story. The leading causes of death for American men are heart disease and cancer—two diseases that can largely be prevented by adopting a few essential healthy habits, the CDC says.
Don’t use tobacco
That means in any form. “Not smoking or chewing tobacco is one of most important self-care actions men can take”, states David DiLoreto, MD, of Rowan Family Physicians South, “Smoking triples the risk of dying of heart disease.”
If you need to quit tobacco, ask your health care provider to help you. Check out these resources: http://www.smokefree.gov, and the National Quitline, 800-QUITNOW (800-784-8669).
Get moving
Exercising regularly can reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes and help you maintain a healthy weight. “It doesn’t matter if you walk, run, swim, ride a bike, or play soccer with your kids—getting even 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week improves your health,” DiLoreto said.
Eat a healthy diet
The prescription here is for more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, and fish, and less red meat and high-fat and high-cholesterol foods.
Stay at a healthy weight
Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories you burn off through your activities. To attain a healthy weight, make lower-fat food choices, eat smaller portions, and increase your physical activity.
Drink alcohol only in moderation
Drinking to excess or abusing alcohol impairs physical and mental health, and destroys relationships and careers. “If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, speak with your health care provider,” states Dr. DiLoreto, “identifying the problem is the first big step to taking control of any addiction.”
Get routine exams and screenings
Based on your age, health history, lifestyle, and risk factors, your health care provider can determine how often you should be examined and screened for high blood pressure, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancers of the skin, prostate, and colon. When problems are found early, your chances for treatment and cure increase.
Don’t ignore depression
Undiagnosed and untreated depression is a major risk factor for men and a primary cause of suicide. “If you feel persistently down, angry, worthless, fatigued, or have any suicidal thoughts, see your health care provider or a mental health professional,” DiLoreto said.
Protect yourself
It’s easy for men to believe the rules don’t apply to them when it comes to safety. But the third-leading cause of death among men is accidents. To live a longer, disability-free life, buckle up and don’t drink and drive.
David DiLoreto, MD, is a family medicine physician at Rowan Family Physicians South in China Grove. To learn more, call 704-855-8338 or visit www.rowan-fp.com

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