alcohol consumption

men’s health

Men's Health

A Spotlight on the Challenges

Women’s health issues tend to enjoy more attention than men’s health, however, Australian men are at a higher risk of developing  many chronic diseases and have a lower life expectancy than women. 

unhealthyThe leading health issues for men are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression and substance abuse – including tobacco and alcohol. Young men have specific health concerns are at greater risk of depression and injury and death from accidents, suicide and self harm. Young men are almost three times more likely to die than young women.  Men from indigenous or poor socio-economic backgrounds are at greater risk of dying from a range of diseases including heart disease, respiratory problems and suicide than men from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

Given that men have a higher risk than women and are more likely to die from degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer – one might expect men to be more conscious of their health than women.  However, the opposite is true. Many men are reluctant to visit health professionals for regular checkups and they often ignore signs of ill health until symptoms get quite bad.  Thus men often present in medical clinics with quite advanced illness due to the long delay in seeking medical  assistance.   In contrast, women are far more likely to be concerned with their everyday health and regularly visit their doctors for routine tests such as PAP smears and breast screenings.

stressmanThere is much debate and questioning from medical and social commentators about why gender plays such a role in predicting health outcomes. Obviously gender will play a role in the development of specific reproductive diseases.  However, there are many more subtle differences in women and men from an environmental and social perspective. Some of the environmental issues for men are occupational health and safety. Men often work in occupations that pose a greater risk to their health.   In the professional sector, men are often working in excess of 48 hours a week, which will significantly impact on their physical health, family relationships and emotional wellbeing. With reduced leisure time, men are exercising less and getting more obese.

Many men that I see in my practice are there because their partner has recommended it.  They are often uncomfortable talking about their complaints and reluctant to discuss their emotional wellbeing.  Men are known to deny experiencing emotional stress and are more likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs to cope with stress. There is an unspoken expectation in our society for men to be stoic, strong and self reliant which often translates to not seeking help for physical or emotional problems. Interestingly, research shows that men who are in supportive relationships and have high job satisfaction are more likely to have positive attitudes and moods.  Getting men to visit a health clinic is a good first step, however it is unfortunate that the compliance amongst men for continuing with medical or allied health treatments is quite poor.  Men will often wait until things are worse or become more serious before following up again with health practitioners.

It is hard to know how we might change the habits of Australian men to allow them to take better care of their health.  Common male health complaints that can be improved with holistic and preventative health strategies include heart disease, prostate enlargement, obesity, diabetes, stress and depression, digestive disorders and infertility.  Male infertility is on the rise and poor sperm count can also be a symptom of other factors such as stress, alcohol, smoking and poor diet.

mansaladMany of the men that I see in my practice have poor diets and skipping meals is a common occurrence.  A healthy diet is a basic preventative strategy, that is known to positively influence and prevent many diseases.  Men, like many women, often do not realise what is healthy and can find changing their habits hard.  Practical changes such as switching to a healthy breakfast option like porridge, muesli or eggs and taking a healthy packed lunch to work can often make a real difference to your health and wellbeing.

Other positive life changes include exercise and developing work life balance and stress management techniques.  Meditation is a tool that men can learn and employ to help deal with stress and emotional issues. My stress management workshop can be a good place to start for many men, who may benefit from better managing their stress and workload.

 

 

 

alcohol and cancer risk

Alcohol and Cancer Risk

Sit Up and Sober Up...

drinkingIf you need a good reason to quit or cut back on alcohol this new year, then maybe the new WHO (world health organisation) report on cancer will deliver some sobering facts. When it comes to alcohol and cancer risk, their statement is simple: "no amount of alcohol is safe."1

It is interesting how the idea that wine is good for us, gained popularity with the general public, when links were found between heart disease and red wine consumption. The findings that the French had lower heart disease were causally linked to light, regular alcohol intake (red wine especially). Seems like we were keen to have a reason to drink more wine: "It is good for our heart! Cheers!"

alcohol cancerHowever, alcohol was declared a carcinogen back in 1988, for its causal link to a host of cancers. More and more research over the past couple of decades has shown more links and stronger evidence for alcohol and cancer risk. The risk is dose-dependent, meaning the more alcoholic drinks you consume, the greater the risk of cancer. But even light drinking, which many consider safe, was directly associated with more than 5000 breast cancer deaths worldwide last year.

Alcoholic beverages can contain at least 15 carcinogenic compounds, including acetaldehyde, acrylamide, aflatoxins, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, ethanol, ethyl carbamate, formaldehyde, and lead. Several different causative pathways are implicated in alcohol-related cancer. Acetaldehyde has a direct toxic affect on many cells and alcohol can affect folate metabolism, change our DNA methylation and cause free radical damage.

less alcohol low riskResearchers are absolutely certain about the link between alcohol and specific cancers - especially those of the breast, mouth, oesophagus, liver, bowel and pancreas. Links have also been made between alcohol consumption and leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina and skin.

So when it comes to preventing cancers, once again, we have personal actions and habits that we can change to lower our risk. While we can't change our genetic inheritance, we can freely choose to avoid or limit alcohol as a positive lifestyle habit to lower our cancer risk.

If you would like help with reducing your alcohol intake or support to do a liver detox, please book in for a consult! Or you can check out my online detox programme here.

 

 

References:

Rehm J, Shield K. Alcohol consumption. In: Stewart BW, Wild CB, eds. World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014.

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