Movember’s six steps to making sure men live longer

22nd November, 2021.      //   General Interest, Health  // 

Globally, men die on average 5 years earlier than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable. But we can all take action to live healthier, happier and longer lives

Right now, women outlive men in most countries around the world. This was the case long before Covid-19 struck, but because men are twice as likely as women to die from the disease, it has had a significant impact on male life expectancy in many countries around the world, including the UK.

The impact of Covid-19 has also caused a fall in UK male life expectancy for the first time in 40 years. A baby boy born between 2018 and 2020 is expected to live until he is 79 years old, while estimates for women remained broadly unchanged, with girls born in 2018-20 likely to live for 82.9 years.

But there are other reasons that men’s health remains unnecessarily poor and some of the causes of the disparity between men and women’s life expectancies are preventable.

For many men, taking care of their health isn’t high on their list of priorities – at least until they get older, or a problem becomes impossible to ignore. But there are some simple steps you can take to load the dice in your favour and increase your chances of living a longer, healthier, happier life.

1. Get health problems checked out quickly

You can increase your chances of living longer by dealing with any health problems quickly. If you’re worried about something, get it checked out, and if you’re offered screening, take advantage of it. Find out if your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles suffered from any serious illness, especially if they died prematurely, and share that information with your GP.

Data from NHS England shows 12,000 fewer men received a first treatment for prostate cancer from April 2020 to May 2021 due to a drop in referrals.  If you think something might be wrong, don’t be afraid to speak to your GP about it or seek a second opinion.

2. Know your cancer risk

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men, and in most cases the outcome for men with testicular cancer is positive, however early detection is key. Be sure to check yourself regularly – it’s as simple as carefully and gently rolling one testicle at a time between thumb and forefinger – the shower is a great place to do this.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and the risk of the developing it increases with age.

If you’re 50, you should be talking to your doctor about your prostate risk and whether you might need a PSA [prostate-specific antigen] blood test. If you’re black or have a family history of prostate cancer, you are 2.5 times more likely to get it, and will need to start that conversation at 45.

3. Take care of your mental health

A six-month research project by Movember on the impact of the pandemic found that more than half of men surveyed (54 per cent) believe that Covid has had a permanent impact on their mental health.

Confiding in someone you trust about an issue that’s bothering you can help you stay mentally healthy. It isn’t a sign of emotional weakness – getting someone else’s perspective can help you see a situation in a new light.

Research also suggests that supporting a mate in bad times also creates positive feelings in oneself, giving a feeling of purpose and self-worth.

4. Move more

The NHS recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week to reduce the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Not only does exercise benefit your physical health it also raises self-esteem and positively changes your mood. Signing up to ‘move’ for Movember is a great excuse to kick start a new routine or motivation to continue with your current regime.

5. Get your jabs

Guidance from the NHS shows more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the pandemic.

Men are significantly more likely than women to become seriously ill from Covid-19 and twice as likely to die from the disease. Yet in the UK, uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine is still lower in men than in women, especially in the under 50s.

The NHS recommends getting vaccinated against both flu and Covid-19, to protect yourself and those around you from both these serious illnesses, and if you are offered both vaccines, it’s safe to have them at the same time. The flu vaccine is free for some groups, including those over 50.

6. Sign up to take part in Movember

Rooted in fun, Movember provides an opportunity to time to come together while also raising funds for lifesaving research and programs aimed at helping our fathers, brothers, friends and sons from dying too young.

Not only does signing up help the men in your life, but Movember research commissioned last year also showed men who take part in the annual campaign are more likely to report better mental health and wellbeing than the general male population.

Movember supporters tend to be more physically active, better understand the risk factors for prostate cancer and are more likely to carry out testicular self-examination checks than those who did not take part in the campaign

Raise funds and awareness this Movember by growing a moustache, committing to moving over 60km in the month, hosting a Mo-moment, or ‘Mo-ing’ your own way.

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