The 7 Biggest Health Threats for Men and How to Protect Yourself

Health Threats

Do you know the top men’s health threats? The list includes heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injury. Thankfully, most men’s health threats are largely preventable. Make healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet and including physical activity in your daily routine.

1. Heart Disease

Of all American men who die each year, one in four – or over 300,000—die of heart disease, making heart disease the leading cause of death in men (and women, too). One form of heart disease is strikingly more common in men: As many as 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in males; about half of those men had no symptoms of heart disease, according to the CDC.

Among the best ways to protect yourself is to live smoke-free. If you smoke, quit. Smokers die on average 13 to 14 years sooner than non-smokers, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Smoking increases your blood pressure and your risk of blood clots, lowers your good cholesterol and your ability to exercise, and weakens your blood vessels. If you won’t quit for yourself, quit for the people you live with. Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25-30 percent higher among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or work, according to the AHA. Need help quitting? Visit Smoke Free.

2. Cancer 

On World Cancer Day, it’s worth remembering that cancer still kills 24.4 percent of American men of all ages, according to the CDC. (For the record, it’s the number two killer of women as well.) There are more than 100 different types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, and although cancer death rates are declining overall, more than half a million women and men die each year from cancer.

Some of the best ways to protect yourself. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercise, avoid excess sun exposure, and follow your doctor’s recommendations for getting cancer screening tests. And, as with heart disease, quit smoking. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer deaths. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia, according to the National Cancer Institute.

These kill more than 6 percent of all American men each year. However, they include accidental poisoning (mostly drug overdoses), falls, accidental poisoning, and car crashes.

Car crashes are nearly as dangerous. In the United States, motor vehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults, killing more than 18,000 Americans each year. Every day, about 6,400 American adults are injured in a motor vehicle crash.


Best protection? Buckle up. Men are 10 percent less likely to wear seatbelts than women, according to the CDC. Wearing seat belts reduces serious injuries and deaths in crashes by about 50 percent. Also, never drink and drive. One third of all automobile crashes involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Four out of five people who drink and drive are men.

3. Unintentional Injuries

The tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent drug overdose, the death of James Gandolfini from a heart attack, and other stories of men cut down in the prime of life makes us wonder: What changes would you make right now if you could look into a crystal ball and know the biggest threats to your life?

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined that about half of American men die from one of two medical conditions. About 70 percent of men die from those two causes plus five others.

4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

More than 5 percent of American men die each year from chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD), which include asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other lower respiratory illnesses.

Best protection? In addition to living smoke free, be aware of the symptoms of CLRD – chronic cough, shortness of breath, decline in physical activity level – and if you have them, see your doctor who may recommend a screening test called a spirometry.

5. Stroke

More than 4 percent of American men die each year due to stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. When a stroke occurs, brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function.

The best protection includes regular exercise, keeping your weight at a healthy level, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables,. However, if you develop high blood pressure, making sure it’s under control.  If you do show signs of having a stroke, getting help within one hour can prevent disability. Call 911 if you or someone you’re with experiences:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

6. Diabetes

About 3 percent of American men die every year from diabetes. A condition in which the body does not use the hormone insulin appropriately. It causes blood sugar to rise sometimes to dangerous levels. Diabetes can raise your risk for stroke and heart disease and lead to blindness and kidney failure, among other problems.

A healthy lifestyle is the best prevention but early detection is key for avoiding complications of the disease. See your doctor if you experience these common symptoms of diabetes: Urinating often; frequent thirst; feeling very hungry — even though you are eating; extreme fatigue; blurry vision; cuts/bruises that are slow to heal; weight loss – even though you are eating more, or tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet.

7. Suicide

Moreover, Every year about 2.4 percent of American men die at their own hands. Moreover, almost four times as many men as women die from suicide.

Additionally, do you need the best protection? Mind your mental health as well as your physical health. Risk factors for suicide include depression and other mental disorders, and/or substance-abuse problems. More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors. And think twice about keeping firearms in your home, especially if you or a family member is struggling with depression: Firearms are the method used in more than half of suicides. However, studies show that certain kinds of psychotherapy and some medications can greatly reduce repeat suicide attempts in men and women. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing these problems or contact the NIMH’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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