Making Men’s Health A Priority

On average, men die five years younger than women, and at higher rates from nine of the top 10 causes of death. Sadly, many of these deaths are preventable. In recognition of Men’s Health Month (June), and with these current and long-term concerns in mind, there has never been a better time to make men’s health a priority.

Understanding men’s health

The top 10 causes of death among men in the United States include (in rank order):

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Unintentional Injuries
  4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
  5. Stroke
  6. Diabetes
  7. Alzheimer’s Disease
  8. Suicide
  9. Influenza & Pneumonia 
  10. Chronic Liver Disease

While men are uniquely at risk for some conditions (like prostate cancer), these “top causes” can affect anyone. However, with the exception of Alzheimer’s Disease, men die in greater numbers (from these causes) than women. Even in the case of Alzheimer’s Disease, most experts attribute this finding to longevity; many men die of other causes before Alzheimer’s Disease can fully develop. 

The role of “lifestyle”

While researchers continue to look for underlying differences between men and women that might explain these findings, most studies point to “lifestyle” as the primary contributor. 

Compared to women, men are more likely to:

  • Drink alcohol
  • Use tobacco 
  • Make risky choices

Conversely, men are less likely to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, get regular check-ups (like a physical exam), schedule recommended screenings tests or keep their vaccinations up to date. 

In short, men often increase and ignore their health risks – and have been slow to acknowledge and adopt the “healthy habits” that might help them avoid future health issues.  

Making healthy changes

Just as “lifestyle” plays a central role in men’s health risks, lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce these risks and improve health (and longevity). In general, regular exercise, a healthy diet, not smoking, stress reduction, and moderating alcohol consumption (no more than two drinks a day) lead to better health, even when men adopt these habits later in life. 

Additionally, regular checkups (including a physical exam) often help men detect and treat conditions before they become life threatening. Physical exams also provide doctors with the opportunity to recommend and conduct screening tests that further inform detection and treatment. 

The CDC’s guidance for men’s screenings varies by age and situation. It includes (but is not limited to) the following recommendations:

  • A “flu shot” every year
  • Cholesterol checks every 5 years (or as recommended by your doctor)
  • After age 45, a diabetes screening every 3 years (or as recommended by your doctor)
  • After age 50, annual colorectal cancer screenings (note that methods and timing vary)
  • After age 50, discuss prostate cancer screenings with your doctor 

Getting started

If you are a man and have not visited with your doctor in some time, consider scheduling a physical exam. In addition to assessing your current health, your doctor can provide further advice on lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise) to help inform your next steps. 

If you are a woman, encourage the men in your life to take a healthy step forward – from getting screened to staying active, your advocacy may be just what they need.

Where to get more information

The Men’s Health Network (MHN) offers a variety of useful men’s health resources.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) also offer a variety of resources.

We’re here to help

Your local Hawthorne pharmacist is always here for you, and we are happy to answer your questions. 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.


Office of Disease Prevention & Promotion
Last accessed: June 5, 2020

Last accessed: June 5, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Last accessed: June 5, 2020

Harvard Medical School
Last accessed: June 5, 2020

National Institute of Health
Last accessed: June 5, 2020

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