With age comes wisdom. Unfortunately, it also comes with an increased threat of developing certain health problems. Prostate cancer and other diseases affect a disproportionately large amount of American men. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), more than 16 million men are affected by the disease globally, and American men represent nearly 2.5 million of that figure. Given these statistics, American men should be especially vigilant about their health. With a few lifestyle tweaks and attitude adjustments, you can help stay healthy as you age.
If you’ve eaten a particular way your whole life, you might find it difficult to change. But cutting out the junk in favor of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is well worth the effort. Not only will you look and feel better, certain foods have even been proven to reduce your risk of developing diseases like prostate cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Opt for fish over red meat. Evidence from several studies suggests that fish can help protect against prostate cancer because it contains “good fat,” particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Choose olive oil over margarine. While monounsaturated fat found in olive oil is beneficial to health, trans-fatty acids contained in margarine contribute to clogged arteries, high cholesterol and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. A free nutrition guide and tasty recipes are available at www.pcf.org/nutrition.
A sedentary lifestyle contributes to your risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer. You don’t need to become a marathon runner, however, to experience benefits from a more active lifestyle. Start with something you enjoy and can handle, like a 20 minute walk once a day or racquetball with friends. Playing doubles or a less intense game is a great way to work the major muscles groups in a social setting that doesn’t feel like exercising. If you have bad joints, consider a low impact activity like swimming.
While it’s always important to be open with your physician about your health and your family’s health history, starting at age 40 it becomes crucial. The older you are, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and other diseases. In fact, more than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65, according to PCF.
Your doctor can help you determine your risk of developing various diseases, and make recommendations accordingly. Regular doctor’s visits are also an important component of early diagnosis. While these tests may not be fun, they can save your life. If you have a history of prostate cancer in your family, consider a yearly rectal examination and a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test starting in your forties, or even earlier if your doctor recommends it.
Broader awareness and understanding of the health risks associated with aging can save lives. So don’t shy away from talking to your friends and family about your health, and theirs.