Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: June 2017 - Men’s Health Awareness

    June 02, 2017

    What can men do to stay healthy?
    Men can make healthy choices every day to try to prevent the three main conditions that can affect their health as they get older: heart disease, stroke and cancer. Some of these choices include:

    • Avoiding tobacco
    • Being physically active
    • Keeping a healthy weight
    • Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains
    • Eating a diet low in saturated/trans fat (in general, fats that are solid at room temperature)
    • Drinking less alcohol
    • Protecting himself against sexually transmitted infections

    Also, see your doctor and find out if you:

    • Have high blood pressure
    • Are overweight or obese
    • Have diabetes
    • Have high cholesterol
    • Should take an aspirin a day (benefits of aspirin)

    What can men do to protect themselves against cancer?
    As you get older, screening for the following cancers is recommended:

    • Colon and rectal cancer — Routine screening for men with no family history or other risk factors starts at age 50 and is recommended every 10 years until age 75 or 85 at the latest. 
    • Lung cancer — The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking or never start. However, if you are or were a heavy smoker (smoked 1 pack daily for the past 30 years), a special CAT scan (low dose helical CT) may be recommended for you .
    • Prostate cancer — Most men who get prostate cancer likely will not die from it. Talk to your doctor about whether screening for prostate cancer is right for you. When a decision is made to screen, you will be offered a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test.  Most men should get this text every 2 to 4 years starting at age 40 or 45.  A digital (finger) rectal examination is not recommended as a routine part of prostate cancer screening.

    Vaccines can protect men against many infections.
    Two vaccines are recommended for everyone:

    • Influenza – Recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months, every year.
    • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough or pertussis) – Whooping cough has made a comeback. It is recommended that all adults should get one Tdap vaccine, followed by a standard Tetanus/diphtheria (Td) shot every 10 years.

    Other vaccines that may be recommended for you, depending on your age and other conditions, are:

    • Varicella – Chicken pox vaccine, for healthy persons over 13 years of age.
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – For males up to age 21 who have not been previously vaccinated, and for men who have sex with men up to age 26.
    • Zoster – Shingles. For most individuals who are 50 years of age or older.
    • Pneumococcal – Pneumonia vaccine for some adults aged 19 to 64 who have conditions that make it more likely for them to get pneumonia.
    • Hepatitis B – For individuals at high risk for Hepatitis B, including diabetic adults over age 60.

    Talk to your doctor to see if any of these vaccines are right for you.

    What other conditions can I be screened for?

    • Infections transmitted sexually (STIs) or by blood: 
    • HIV – All adults should be screened for HIV until age 75.
    • Hepatitis C – All persons born in the U.S. between 1945 and 1965 should get a one-time screening for chronic hepatitis C infection. If you have other risk factors, you may be screened more often.
    • Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Hepatitis B – Your doctor may suggest screening for these diseases even if you have no symptoms, depending on how sexually active you are or on other risk factors (men who have sex with men for example, or who have multiple partners).
    • Mental Health and Drug Use

    Your doctor may ask some questions to help identify any mental health problems you might have, like not being able to control yourself or your anger or using too many drugs or other substances.

    Depression/Drug Use: Over the past two weeks do you have little interest or pleasure in doing things? Have you felt down, depressed or hopeless?

    • Alcohol – How many times in the past year have you had five or more drinks in a day?
    • Tobacco – Do you smoke cigarettes? Would you like to quit? Visit https://nysmokefree.com/
    • Other drug use – How many times in the past year have you used an illegal drug or used a prescription medication for other (non-medical) reasons?
    • Other conditions  
    • Osteoporosis — Men can be at risk for thin bones and fractures, especially if they have some conditions that deprive them of testosterone (the male hormone).
    • Abdominal aortic aneurysm – This is an enlargement of the aorta (the largest artery in the body) in the abdomen. It is recommended that all men who smoke or are former smokers get this screening one time between the ages of 65 to 75.

    You can also calculate what your risk of having a heart attack in the next ten years is by using a cardiovascular risk tool, such as the Framingham risk score.

    A word from Dr. Loredana Ladogana, Interim Chief Medical Officer at Affinity Health Plan: Screening and prevention can vary depending on the age of the man and on risk factors. Talk to your primary care doctor and find out what men can do to stay healthy, for yourself and for your family.

    To learn more, visit:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 
    https://www.cdc.gov/features/menshealthatcdc/
    Vaccine guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/index.html
    Screening recommendations:  http://www.webmd.com/men/ss/slideshow-screening-tests-men


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