Men: Lift Weights and Go to Doctor
By CASEY JUNKINS
WHEELING — Although men tend to lag behind women in terms of general life span, the reason for this may be as simple as the fact that women pay more attention to their health.
“Men are sometimes hard to convince on preventive care. They don’t come until there is a problem,” Dr. Gregory Merrick, director of the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital, said.
“Men may think, ‘Oh, it’s not a big deal.’ Then, sometimes they come in and find there is a major problem that could have been prevented,” Merrick said.
One of the main health problems men face involves prostate cancer. Merrick recommends men begin receiving regular prostate screenings at age 40.
“Some say you don’t need to worry about it until age 50. I recommend at least getting an initial check at age 40,” he said.
However, the numerous types of cancer, as well as heart and cardiovascular disease, are the most common health problems men face that can lead to premature death.
“A lot of these problems can be prevented, or at least lessened, by getting proper exercise. Men need resistance training, weight lifting. It makes a big difference,” Merrick said.
Running and other cardiovascular activities are also helpful. However, Merrick said outdoor workouts come with some risk for those with fair skin.
“You do need to protect your skin from getting burnt to prevent skin cancer,” he said, adding men sometimes either don’t think about this, or simply don’t want to bother with it.
In addition to prostate examinations, Merrick said men must also track their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. He also emphasized the benefits of being tobacco-free.
“Any type of tobacco use increases the risk of many types of cancer, not just lung cancer or mouth cancer,” Merrick said. “That is another thing you can do: avoid smoking or chewing.”
“We have higher rates of cigarette smoking here. Also, the death rate from cancer in West Virginia is higher than the national average,” he said. “This is partially due to a lack of access to care.”
In terms of diet, Merrick recommends men eat as much fiber, and as little fat, as possible.
“Diet is important. It is best to get your vitamins and minerals that way,” he said, although he said taking a multi-vitamin daily can also benefit.