Calabash_Issue 9 Apr. 2014 - Page 43

health Top ten threats to African men’s health They cause more than 60 per cent of all African men’s deaths in the world. Find out what you can do to protect yourself. For the weaker sex, African women do pretty well. African men die sooner; they’re 70 per cent more likely to die from strokes and high blood pressure that affect both sexes and 60 per cent more likely to develop them in the first place. Why is this? Is it down to genes? We don’t think so. If you look at the top ten health threats to African men living in the UK, you’ll find that many can be prevented. Some can even be stopped in their tracks if you know the warning signs, have a few tests done by your GP and make some lifestyle changes. Heart disease The number one threat to African men’s health in the UK and else where in the world is heart disease, killing over 50,000 men annually - one in five of all male deaths. Sadly, most are preventable. Heavy food stuff (Cassava Leave and Rice, pounded yam and Okra soup, washed down with Guinness) watch out if you don’t exercise it will increase your cholesterol and the chance of heart disease is higher. What you can do about it You’re at risk if you are over 40, overweight, have high blood pressure and cholesterol, are a smoker, are diabetic or have a family history of heart disease. See your GP for advice and try to modify your lifestyle: Quit smoking, improve your diet to include fruit, vegetables and fibre, avoid foods containing saturated strands of fat limit your alcohol intake, try to maintain a healthy weight, and incorporate some exercise into your routine. Stroke In 2007, over 20,000 men died of stroke. Strokes caused more death in men than any single cancer and are the leading cause of disability in the UK. Around half a million people in England alone have some form of disability because of stroke. African men are not exempted and it is on the increase on the African continent What you can do about it Most people think of strokes affecting only the elderly, but anyone can get one. Strokes are more common in men than women and the vast majority occurs in people over the age of 45. You are more at risk of a stroke if you have high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoke, drink to excess, are overweight, diabetic, already have heart disease or have previously had a heart attack. To reduce your risk, have your GP check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, cut back on salt in your food and limit your alcohol intake. Lung cancer Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer of men in the UK, with around 16,000 men dying from it every year. It kills African men before it is diagnose due to lack of proper medical facility, however African men in the Diaspora shy away from the hospital What you can do about it Smoking causes 90 per cent of lung cancer cases, though a family history of the disease, exposure to radon gas, air pollution, secondhand smoke and chemicals like asbestos can also cause it. The symptoms of lung cancer can include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing up blood, chest pain, weight loss and fatigue. To prevent lung cancer, stop smoking, doing so will also reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Prostate cancer Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer in men. Each year approximately 35,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and around 10,200 die from it, yet a recent survey found that 60 per cent of men were unaware of the symptoms. What you can do about it Over 70 per cent of new cases occur in men over the age of 65, and having a close family member who has had the disease makes it more likely you will get it too. Early symptoms may include the need to urinate often, passing urine slowly, discomfort while urinating, blood in urine or semen, pain or stiffness in back, hips or pelvis and difficulty in having an erection. If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP. There is no one way to prevent prostate cancer. However, eating a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre is associated with a lower risk of many cancers. Cutting back on red meat and saturated fat and drinking alcohol in moderation may also reduce your risk. Bowel cancer Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in men and each year over 20,000 men are diagnosed with the disease in the UK and around 8,500 die from it. What you can do about it If caught early enough, it is one of the most treatable of cancers, with 90 per cent of those diagnosed living for more than 5 years. It tends to occur in people over the age of 60 and its risk factors include a family history of the disease, having diabetes, ulcerative colitis or Cohn’s disease, a poor diet, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and being inactive. Symptoms might include bleeding from the bottom, changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain and tiredness. Liver disease In 2008 there were 4,764 deaths in England and Wales due to alcoholic liver disease. Three-quarters were men. Alcoholic liver disease is a group of illnesses which develop when the liver becomes damaged due to heavy drinking including fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis. What you can do about it It’s a fatal mistake to think that binge drinkers are most at risk from liver disease. People most at risk are those who drink over the limit on a regular basis ݙ\