Men’s Health Week: Five steps to take control of your health

Posted: 7am 13 Jun 2022

It’s International Men’s Health Week (June 13-19), a time for men and boys to focus on their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Cancer Council Queensland Health Researcher Dr Larry Myers is urging men to take control of their health and reduce their cancer risk through five easy steps.

“We know that at least one third of cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices. Each year in Australia, more than 13,000 cancer deaths are due to smoking, sun exposure, unhealthy diet, alcohol, inadequate physical activity and being above a healthy weight,” Dr Myers says.

Fortunately, there are a number of lifestyle changes people can make to help reduce their cancer risk.

1. Get active

Evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is one of the most important ways to protect against many types of cancer.

“Getting active every day can help achieve this, whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, swapping the bus for a bike, or taking the stairs instead of the lift, it’s easy” Dr Myers says.

2. Make healthy choices

About one quarter of all cancer cases can be prevented through eating a healthy diet alone.

Dr Myers shared a top tip: “Creating a meal-plan for each week, and shopping ahead of time might help you make healthy choices when life inevitably gets busy”.

Cancer Council Queensland recommends following the Australian Dietary Guidelines, ensuring your diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain and high fibre grains, lean meats and reduced fat dairy products.

As part of a healthy diet, Cancer Council Queensland recommends you drink water every day, and limit consumption of alcohol. There is no healthy level of alcohol, if you choose to drink alcohol, Cancer Council Queensland recommends drinking within the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines. For healthy adults this means that you drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day.

3. Say no to tobacco

If you are a smoker, think about quitting for better health. You will experience several health benefits as soon as you put out your last cigarette, even if you already suffer from health problems.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease, including cancer, in the developed world. In Australia, smoking causes around one in five cancer deaths, which includes over 4,000 deaths in Queensland each year.

Help is there for you, “When you are ready to quit, contact Quitline 13 QUIT (13 7848) or speak to a health professional.” Dr Myers said.

4. Slip, slop, slap, seek and slide

While you are out enjoying the weather, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun. Sun protection is advised when UV levels are 3 or higher, which is most days in Queensland.

Just remember the five Ss of sun safety:

  • Slip on clothing that covers as much skin as possible
  • Slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades the face, ears and neck
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard for UV protection

5. Bowel Cancer Screening

Men have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than women, and yet are less likely to take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Australia.

Dr Myers says there is hope. “The good news is, there is a simple test that can help find bowel changes early. If you are between the ages of 50 and 74 you will be sent a free kit in the mail.”

If you receive a bowel screening kit in the mail, do it, even if you feel well. It could save your life. If you notice changes in your body, consult your GP. If found early, bowel cancer can be successfully treated.

To learn more about reducing your cancer risk, take the Cancer Risk Calculator.

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