Men’s Health Week kicks off today, an event that’s designed to bring awareness to the big health issues affecting men across the globe.
While everyone should be diligent about recognising unusual changes to their body, research from Boots has found that men are less likely to follow up on warning symptoms, with guys in Britain visiting the doctor 20% less than their female partners.
That doesn’t mean they suffer less with health problems though. Currently in the UK, more than 100,000 men a year die prematurely, and one man in five dies before the age of 65. The problem may simply be that men are more reluctant to seek help when they need it.
We spoke to Dr Luke Powles, lead GP from Bupa Health Clinics, to find out some of the most common health issues that young men in their 20s face today, and what they should do about it. Here’s what he had to say…
1. Mental Health
“It’s important for men in their 20s to begin looking after their mental health. Sadly, suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years in the UK and it is considerably higher in men, with around three times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women.
“If you feel anxiety or stress affecting you, talk to your GP. Getting the right help and support can ensure you’re well-armed with ways to manage your mental health for the decades to come.”
2. Skin cancer
“Evidence shows that extreme sun exposure before the age of 40 can put you at more risk of developing skin cancer. A recent study by Bupa Health Clinic found that almost three-quarters (73%) of all Brits don’t always apply sunscreen in the UK and a third (31%) said they are more relaxed about applying it when they are in the garden at home, versus on holiday abroad.
“My advice is to avoid sun beds and wear high factor sunscreen in the summer months in the UK and on holiday to keep your future-self safe.”
“On average, smoking reduces your life expectancy by 10 years and increases your chances of developing heart disease and cancer. But this is all preventable if you kick the habit sooner rather than later.
“Your 20s is the age to set good habits and break bad ones. If you want to quit smoking, my advice is to set yourself small, achievable goals. Telling yourself you’re going to completely stop smoking can be daunting and you may set yourself up to fail.
“Try cutting back slowly. Once this feels comfortable, cut back further until you’ve quit. You’ll likely have set-backs, but don’t be too harsh on yourself and celebrate your achievements.
“Some pharmacies and GP clinics offer smoking cessation clinics. They’re also a great way to help you kick the habit.”
4. Alcohol intake
“Responsible alcohol intake is important throughout every stage of life, however, liver disease is the third top cause of death for men aged between 20-34 years old.
“Minimising alcohol intake can help reduce a range of health problems including liver disease, heart disease, obesity and some cancers. Guidelines advise both men and women should keep their consumption under 14 units a week.”
5. Testicular Cancer
“For men, although testicular cancer is relatively rare with the risk being just under 1 in 200 in the UK, it appears to be rising. It can occur at any age but it is the most common type of cancer for men between the ages of 20 and 35.
“Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable of all cancers. Most men make a full recovery, particularly if the cancer is diagnosed early. That’s why it’s important for you to contact your GP as soon as possible if you feel anything unusual in your testicle.”
“Acne can also be an issue for men in their 20s. The condition can be provoked by using whey protein, which is a popular nutritional supplement. If you do suffer with acne, use non-pore blocking and oil free products on your skin to avoid long term scaring or persistent acne.
“A Bupa health assessment can give you a snapshot of your health and help identify any areas of improvement. Following on from your health assessment, you’ll also be supported by follow-up coaching calls to keep you on track.”