Prevention Tips for Men

Mount Sinai physicians provide comprehensive care for men’s health and wellness issues. But men sometimes overlook the importance of prevention – including routine checkups and a healthy lifestyle – in maintaining good health. The following are some recommended prevention tips to help you minimize your risks and feel your best.:

  • Watch your weight: You may be aware that obesity increases risk of diabetes, liver disease, gallbladder disease, coronary disease and colon cancer. But did you know that obese men have lower sperm counts, lower testosterone and worse erectile function than men with normal weight? Mount Sinai endocrinologist Ronald Tamler, MD, and weight-loss surgeon Subhash Kini, MD, showed that obese men undergoing significant weight loss, for instance with bariatric surgery, doubled their testosterone levels and improved erectile function.

  • Get regular exercise: In addition to reducing the risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, exercise can facilitate weight loss and help maintain bone strength. Studies point to the potential for exercise to reduce the risk of colon cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week or participate in vigorous-intensity physical activity for at least 20 minutes on three or more days of the week.

  • Sleep seven to nine hours at night: Insufficient sleep increases the risk of developing diabetes, while sleep duration and quality have emerged as predictors of levels of Hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control. Less than six hours sleep per night raised the chances of colon cancer by 50 percent in a 2011 study.

  • Monitor your fatigue level and ask your partner about your breathing at night: If you’re always tired and have low desire, it may be a result of low testosterone. Obstructive sleep apnea, a condition marked by loud snoring and even chortling and choking at night, typically befalls men. In a recent study, Mount Sinai urologist Natan Bar-Chama, MD, and cardiologist Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, demonstrated that Obstructive Sleep Apnea was associated with low testosterone and erectile dysfunction.

  • Reduce alcohol consumption: Restrict alcoholic beverages to less than two drinks per day. More than that can increase your risk of liver disease. Men who drank 50 grams or more alcohol per day (roughly four beers) were also found to have increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

  • Reduce "simple carbs": These include starches in bread, pasta, rice and potatoes or high-fructose corn syrup, and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods. Men with higher intakes of simple carbohydrates are more likely to have lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides (blood fats).

  • Drink eight to nine cups of water per day: The average urine output for adults is about 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) per day. You lose close to an additional liter (about four cups) of water per day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. Water drinkers average 75 to 90 fewer calories at each meal, which greatly aids in weight loss and weight control.

  • Eat a fiber-rich diet: Individuals who ate at least 26 grams of fiber per day were 22 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases than those who consumed 13 grams or less per day. High-fiber diets have been linked to a lower risk of cancer deaths in men.

  • Compare salt levels of food products: It is recommended to reduce salt intake to 2,400 mg/day. Too much salt causes water retention and disrupts the salt/mineral/water balance in your kidneys, which puts you at greater risk of kidney stones.

  • Avoid consuming "bad" fat: There are two main types of potentially harmful dietary fat
    • Saturated fat comes mainly from animal sources. It raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
    • Trans fat is made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. This process creates synthetic fats which can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Schedule the necessary exams:
    • No later than age 34, adult men should have their cholesterol checked every five years. This blood test can be administered by a primary care physician.
    • At 50, men should be screened for colorectal cancer. African-Americans need to start screening at age 45.
    • Speak with your doctor about whether or not you should be tested for prostate cancer. Men at high risk should address this at 45, whereas men who are not at high risk can have this conversation at 50 or as early as 40 if they wish.

Fast Facts about Men’s Health

Roughly two-thirds of men in the U.S. are obese or overweight.

  • Obese individuals are twice as likely to suffer from kidney stones.
  • Obese men are more likely to have aggressive prostate cancer than men of a healthy weight
  • Approximately 15 million American men have low testosterone.
  • Men with low testosterone are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • One-third of the people with diabetes don’t know they have it.
  • Men with low testosterone have much higher risks of heart disease and early mortality.
  • Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer among American males between the ages of 15 and 35.
  • Prostate cancer affects one in six American men, with about 33,000 dying from the disease each year.
  • Erectile dysfunction, especially in young men, can signal future heart disease.
  • Erectile dysfunction and low testosterone increase men’s risks of dying from cardiovascular disease.