June 15th – 21st marks National Men’s Health Week. Since 1994, this event has been celebrated the week leading up to Father’s Day and is a part of the grander Men’s Health Month, which is recognized throughout June. The purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage detection and treatment of disease among men. It’s not just about dads though; it’s important to encourage all of the men you care about to live healthy lives, be they sons, best friends, boyfriends or co-workers! If you’re a guy, this is a good chance to turn the focus inward and assess if you’re being your healthiest you. Here are some ways, courtesy of the CDC, to do less of some things or quit others altogether to make health improvements.
1. Decrease alcohol use.
Men are more likely than women to drink heavily. Excessive alcohol use increases your risk of injury and cancer, can interfere with male hormone production and sexual function, and can result in hospitalizations, and death.
2. Quit using tobacco.
Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and causes most lung cancer. It also causes other cancers and heart and respiratory diseases. In 2014, 26% of men used tobacco products every day or some days. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) or visit Quit Smoking for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live. Get tips from former smokers.
3. Avoid drowsy driving.
Up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. Commercial drivers, shift workers, drivers with untreated sleep disorders or those using sedation medications, and drivers that do not get enough sleep are more likely to drive drowsy. Prevent drowsy driving. Get enough sleep to prevent drowsing driving—7 or 8 hours each night; seek treatment for possible sleep disorders, and refrain from drinking alcohol or taking sedation medications before driving.
4. Reduce number of sex partners.
Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Be sexually active with only one person who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Get tested because most STDs don’t have symptoms and often go undiagnosed and untreated. Find free, fast, and confidential testing near you.
5. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. In 2011, more than 38,000 men in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin. To protect you and your family from the sun, seek shade, wear protective clothing and sunglasses, and wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
6. Reduce stress
Physical or emotional tension are often signs of stress. They can be reactions to a situation that causes you to feel threatened or anxious. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
For more men’s health resources, you can visit the official National’s Men’s Health Month site, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, and the Men’s Health Network.