Don’t skip that suggested yearly physical. According to the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD), males have 29.7 percent (per 100,000 individuals) more deaths caused by cancer compared to females in Southern Nevada. Dr. Ronald Hedger, an associate professor and associate dean of clinical skills training at Touro University, says cancer often goes undetected because men are less likely to go to a doctor for regular checkups. In general, Hedger says men between 25 and 40 should get a screening at least every few years, or if they’re having symptoms. “Get an annual blood test to see your cholesterol and make sure everything is OK,” he says. It’s during those checkups that other pressing health issues, like cancer, might be identified. “And it’s better to discover those earlier than later,” Hedger adds.
Whether due to genetics or other outside factors, cardiovascular disease is also an issue for Las Vegans. According to the Healthy Southern Nevada report on age-adjusted death rates in Clark County, the rate of fatal heart disease is higher in men than women—127 per 100,000 vs. 68 per 100,000. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can contribute to heart disease.
“People hear about syphilis and think it’s something of the past that has gone away,” says Dr. Michael Johnson, the director of community health with the SNHD, “but it hasn’t.” According to the 2016 annual program report from the Office of Epidemiology within the health district, men are contracting gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV at higher rates than women.
Some of it is misinformation around STDs and how they can be contracted. Johnson says many people are less concerned about diseases, including HIV, because treatment is available for some STDs, which leads people to believe it’s available for all STDs. This leads to higher rates of unprotected sex. “People need to be practicing safe sex, especially if they have multiple partners,” he says. “And if they are concerned they might be infected, they should get tested.”
Diabetes is having a bigger impact than people realize. In 2015, diabetes caused 13.4 deaths per 100,000 people among males, which has been a consistent trend since 2004, according to the SNHD. One of the common risk factors for diabetes is obesity, which has also risen. Males in the Valley are more obese than females, 28.9 percent versus 25.2 percent, respectively.
Poor Nutrition/Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices
Some of the health issues people face—such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease—can be traced to their lifestyle choices. According to SNHD, about 25 percent of local males reported smoking. The survey also reports males consistently consume fewer vegetables than females do, and about 20 percent of men said they don’t consume vegetables at all.
Damon McCune, a dietitian and the director of food and nutrition outreach of the California Beef Council, says that it’s more than just getting fruits and vegetables. “It’s about finding a balanced diet,” he adds. McCune notes many people go off the notion that they should be having a 2,000-calorie diet. “But if you’re a 6-foot-4, 245-pound-man, that might not be the best thing,” he says. McCune suggests men seek a certified dietitian to see what works for them and their body type.
Johnson adds that people can ease into a healthier lifestyle at their pace. “People think you have to change everything at once,” he says. “You can make the small changes. Those small wins really add up.”
Feeling tired? Having low energy? Dealing with a declining libido? Those long-winded ads on television (you know, the ones with the scary health warnings) are actually trying to tell men something. As they get into their 40s, 50s or 60s, men usually see a decrease in testosterone levels. However, a significant drop can negatively impact health, whether it’s low energy or lack of a sex drive. “I think this is an issue we’re just really starting to talk about,” Hedger says. There are therapies, such as injections and gels—Hedger adds that men can feel the impact of those relatively quickly. “Once they get treatment, they will have more energy,” he says. “They get their second wind, start exercising again and have enhanced mental capacity.”
Enough with the hypermasculinity, because the need for speed or unnecessary risks is actually killing men at higher rates. According to the SNHD, men are more likely than women to die from an injury, which could be anything from firearm use to motor vehicle accidents. Since 2010, unintentional accidents were the No. 3 cause of death among men in Clark County (compared to the No. 5 cause among women).