In the United States, men live about five and a half years less than women.

Attention, Men:

When was the last time you saw a doctor? If your answer is, “I don’t know,” it may be time to call up your doctor for an annual wellness visit! The key word is annual! In the United States, men live about five and a half years less than women. In fact, the average life expectancy for both men and women went down from 2019 to 2020 (Men -1.9 years; Women -0.9 year). For this Wellness Wednesday, let’s focus on the men since it is Men’s Health Month. 

Could we blame the lower life expectancy on the fact that men, statistically, hold riskier jobs (i.e., military, police officers, construction, firefighters)? It’s possible. However, we can’t solely attribute it to that. Let’s dive into what other factors may contributes to this lower life expectancy for men. 

Healthy Heart = Healthy Life 

Men are 50% more likely to die of heart disease. Over 50% of men ages 20+ have hypertension. Be sure to find a blood pressure cuff and regularly take your blood pressure. A free blood pressure test could be down at a local pharmacy or grocery store. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80. See something higher? Now is a good time to reach out to your primary care physician. High blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes of kidney failure. 

Another Round?

Over 30% of men ages 18 and over have had a binge drinking episode* in the past year. Increased alcohol consumption leads to liver damage, pancreatitis, and cardiovascular disease.  

While I do not recommend someone to start drinking alcohol, moderate alcohol consumption is included in the 2020 to 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Moderate alcohol consumption for men is 2 servings or less per day. One serving of alcohol is 1 oz liquor, a 12 oz beer or 4 oz of wine (I had to make sure I covered my bases with defining a serving).  

 Bottom line (or bottom of the bottle): The research is conflicting regarding health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. If you choose to drink, keep it in moderation. *Cheers to moderation* 

 Weight Status

According to the CDC, 40.5% of men ages 20 and above are obese (Body Mass Index of 30+). Obesity is linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and others. For a BMI calculator, click here! 

 Risky Business

Men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. These behaviors include drinking or smoking in excess, driving drunk and even skipping routine health screens (Yes, let’s count that as risky for the sake of men’s health month). I attempted to find a statistic showing that men are more likely to body slam through folding tables when the Buffalo Bills make the playoffs, but the research is still pending (google search “Bills Mafia” if you are not sure what I am referring to). 

Just like your 401K, Tesla stock, real estate, and Bitcoin (well, maybe not Bitcoin) – your health is an investment! Would you expect your car to go over 200,000 miles if you never put gas in the tank, did the regular oil change, transmission fluid flush, etc. (I ran out of things I know about cars)? 

It’s a similar concept when it comes to health. We can’t expect our bodies to go the distance if we don’t take care of them. You can’t buy better health or more time, but better health will provide a greater quality and longevity of life! Let’s make the intentional effort to be PROACTIVE in achieving optimal health rather than REACTIVE upon diagnosis of a chronic disease.  

*The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking for men as five or more drinks in a 2-hour period. 

References:  

www.CDC.org  

www.health.harvard.edu 

www.niddk.nih.gov  

www.niaaa.nih.gov  

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