Common Health Issues for the Middle-aged Man
Countless men around the world find middle age to be the prime time of their lives. It’s an occasion when a man can take credit for some accomplishments, and claim authority of some measure in home or community. It’s also a period where he can find time to enjoy the beginnings of well-deserved rewards for a lifetime of taking risks and working hard.
Then again, it’s also a time when body parts begin to wear out, spread out, thin out, grow limp, or thicken, none of which are relished by the ageing male.
Growing Old Disgracefully Perhaps?
Advertisers are only too aware that midlife is a time when men aren’t yet overly interested in Polident but they’re often attracted to Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis.
It’s stereotypical to say that the over 40s man is only concerned about getting fat, losing hair, or keeping his erection long enough to still play Jack the Lad, but in many cases this is correct, especially during soft middle age.
The most important health concern for men over 40 is the threat to life itself. Middle-age is definitely a time when a man should start looking after himself better, though sadly it’s often a time when he doesn’t.
Okay, so let’s now take a look at the 5 major health concerns typically facing men in mid-life.
1. High Cholesterol and Heart Attacks
Whether or not men should be concerned about high cholesterol levels, their doctors usually make sure that they are.
Despite the fact that the median cholesterol level among men who have heart attacks is 158 mg/dl (4.1 mmol/L), which means that half of men who have heart attacks actually have low cholesterol, doctors continue to hand out statins like they were vitamins.
HDL and APO
There’s one cholesterol measurement that you do need to get down. This is a ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol that can get stuck in the linings of veins and arteries causing a clog. It’s the smaller APO-A particles of cholesterol, something for which doctors almost never test for.
If your doctor doesn’t seem to know about, or concerned with APO, then maybe you need to see someone else. And if he or she does, then ask how the drugs that are recommended to you change this number. It’s the one that really matters.
So if cholesterol levels don’t have a lot of bearing on whether a man has a heart attack, what does? Most experts agree that the key issue is inflammation. You can get a laboratory reading on inflammation with a test of C-reactive protein, also known as C-RP.
Statin drugs lower C-RP as well as cholesterol, which may be their redeeming feature. You can also lower C-RP by eating less processed fat and more of the fat found in flaxseed oil or chia see oil, the only plant oils that have more of the ‘good’ omega-3 fats than they have of the ‘bad’ omega-6 fats.
2. Cancer (particularly that of the Lungs)
The leading cause of cancer deaths in men aged 45 to 65 is cancer of the lungs. We all know that lung cancer is more common in smokers than in non-smokers, but why do some men who smoke get lung cancer whereas others who smoke are not affected?
Part of the answer may be diet, and by diet we don’t mean nutritional supplements. The chemicals in tobacco smoke destroy antioxidants in the bloodstream, but taking just one or two supplemental antioxidants (like vitamin C and vitamin E) does not restore the balance of free radical fighters in a man’s body enough to stave off cancer.
Even so, epidemiological studies have found that eating just one tomato or just one serving of carrots per month lowers the risk of the most devastating form of lung cancer, mesothelioma. If you can’t stop smoking, at least eat veggies and get regular check-ups.
3. Type 2 Diabetes
Men who become overweight can get type 2 diabetes. Men who don’t get overweight can also get type 2 diabetes. There isn’t a direct relationship between body weight and diabetes before the disease occurs. Most men who are newly diagnosed with diabetes are put on medications that guarantee they will gain weight because the drugs store sugar in fat cells!
Type 2 diabetes is a problem of insulin resistance. Something happens so that cells in the body need a resting period to recover. It could be an injury. It could be poor circulation. It could be an infection. They shut down receptor sites that respond to insulin, so they can do their tissue repair without a flood of blood sugar and a lot of free radical generation.
This leaves sugar in the bloodstream. It’s the task of the pancreas to keep blood sugar levels normal, so it makes more insulin. Cells become more insulin resistant. The pancreas makes still more insulin. Cells become still more insulin resistant. The process goes on and on until one day the pancreas can’t release insulin as fast any more.
That’s when men can do something about the disease. There’s a point that the pancreas can’t release insulin fast enough to lower blood sugar levels after men eat but it can lower blood sugar levels overnight. Fasting blood glucose levels will be OK, but after-meal, “post-prandial” blood sugar levels will sky-rocket.
It’s important that men get their sugar levels tested after they eat to catch diabetes at its earlier, reversible stage.
4. Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
The simple fact is that most men aren’t happy with the ED issue, and it’s a lot more common than most would admit. Even teens can develop ED. There’s no single cause of the condition for every man who has it.
Here’s what almost always helps. Improve your technique. Don’t spend all your time looking for the G spot. Go for all over excitement for both you and your partner.
The wham-bam thank you ma’am approach is what wears some men out, and the more ways you know to pleasure and be pleasured, the more ways you will have to deal with ED. If you ever develop it.
5. Weight Gain (in all the wrong places)
Most women freak out at the scales. Most men don’t. That doesn’t mean that men want man boobs or trembly tushies.
The only way to lose weight long term, assuming you don’t go for liposuction or lipectomy (surgical removal of fat), is to diet and exercise. But you can avoid accumulation of fat on your breasts and buttocks by minimizing your exposure to the estrogens in beer and whiskey and from bottles made of plastic (especially plastic bottles kept out in the sun).
Additionally, just drawing the line and deciding “No more weight gain!” will keep your body from accumulating the fat that literally transforms testosterone into estrogen.
Men have more than 5 health concerns, of course, but these are the top 5. Get them under control and middle age goes a lot smoother. There are also those aches and various pains that older men tend to ignore, and that’s potentially a dangerous game to play. You might want to read our piece on the 7 pains men should never ignore.
BY ROBERT RISTER | 50ish Site Contributor
Robert Rister is a senior health writer here at 50ish.org