It’s Time to Get Macho About Men’s Health

 It’s not just a month to celebrate Dad’s day. It’s a month to celebrate men’s health. Do you know a man who never gets sick? Who is invincible? Who thinks he can beat back any ailment through sheer force of will? Maybe it’s a husband, son or brother. Or maybe it’s you? Men are notorious for not wanting to go to the doctor. Whether it’s to project a manly macho image, or maybe out of fear of needles or tests, many men are prone to neglecting their health. In fact, men make half as many prevention visits to physicians as women.

Need convincing? Consider this:

  • Men live five years fewer than women, on average.
  • Men have a higher death rate for most leading causes of death (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, suicide).
  • One in two men will develop cancer.
  • Thirty-thousand men die in the U.S. each year from prostate cancer.

Although prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death among men in the U.S., death from prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent preventable if it is detected while it is local or regional to the prostate. This makes early detection key. Don’t wait until urinary symptoms surface (loss of bladder control, pain/burning during urination, blood in urine, painful ejaculation or pain/swelling in legs or pelvic area) to get checked out.

No matter what age, all men should get a PSA Test (Prostate Specific Antigen). If that PSA substance – which is produced in the prostate gland – is elevated, it can indicate prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate. Establishing a PSA “baseline,” when you are healthy allows you to monitor any changes in your PSA levels over time and possibly detect and treat a disease before it’s too late.

The American Cancer Society just released new guidelines about colon and rectal cancers, another leading cause of death from cancer. With more colorectal cancers appearing in younger adults, men and women alike, the recommended screening age has been lowered from 50 to 45. The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is a simple at-home test that tests for blood in the stool and helps to ensure good colon health.

Awareness. Prevention. Action.

We know men are more likely than women to be uninsured. Fortunately, the direct access lab testing available at Any Lab Test Now gives them the opportunity to monitor their health and screen for a host of diseases without a doctor’s order. It just takes action!

Focusing on health instead of illness will ensure men live longer, healthier lives. That’s macho. And that’s what Men’s Health Month is all about.

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The Personal Decision About PSA Testing

Men are getting new advice when it comes to prostate cancer screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends that men aged 55 to 69 decide for themselves whether they should be screened for the disease or not. But, the task force adds, the decision should be made after educating yourself about the benefits and the risks associated with the test. For years the task force boldly recommended that no men receive PSA screening for prostate cancer. The experts at Any Lab Test Now® agree with the change in direction: taking control of your health in an educated and proactive way is a smart move!

Educating Yourself about PSA

Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The prostate is a gland that makes up part of the male reproductive system. Some men have different symptoms for the disease (difficult and/or frequent urination, pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that won’t go away).  Some men won’t have any symptoms at all. The PSA test available at Any Lab Test Now measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in a man’s blood. When a man has an elevated PSA, he could have cancer. That “could” is an important word because those elevated results could be caused by other conditions. That’s why it’s so important to talk with your doctor about your results and keep two things in mind:

  1. Your family history. The task force recommends that patients, who have a family history of prostate cancer, be aware of their increased risk of developing the disease. The CDC says men with a father, brother, or son who has been diagnosed is two to three times more likely to develop the disease himself.
  2. Your ethnicity. Researchers aren’t sure why, but prostate cancer is more common in African-American men. It also tends to start at younger ages and grows faster than in other racial or ethnic groups.

Baseline as a Lifeline

For years Any Lab Test Now has advocated that men perform the PSA test to provide a baseline, so you and your physician can monitor for any changes. Now the task force is recommending their changes, based in part on this same principle. They say there’s new evidence that shows men are using the results of repeated PSA testing as part of what they call “active surveillance”. Active surveillance has become a more common treatment choice for men with lower-risk prostate cancer over the past several years, and may reduce the chance of overtreatment – and the complications that can come along with that.

Take Control of Your Health

These new recommendations underscore the importance of taking a proactive stance when it comes to your health. It’s important for you to understand your genetic risks and talk about your concerns with your doctor so that you’re looking at the whole picture when it comes to your health. An educated patient is a smarter – and healthier- patient.

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The Good and the Bad About Cholesterol

It’s lunchtime and you’re faced with two choices. The first option is a juicy burger and French fries. The second option is a nutritious-looking salad, piled high with colorful veggies. Our mind says one thing, but our stomach and impulse control are tempted to act on the other. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 out of 3 American adults has high cholesterol, putting them at risk for heart disease and stroke. There aren’t any signs or symptoms with high cholesterol. The only way to know if you have it is to get tested… and that’s where your local Any Lab Test Now® can help.

The Good and the Bad

First off, let’s understand some cholesterol basics. There are two types of cholesterol.

  1. Dietary cholesterol is the type that you have some control over! It comes from the things we eat, like a hamburger and fries (high!) vs. a salad (low).
  2. Cholesterol is also produced by your body. Your liver uses it to help you digest food and make certain hormones. Genetics can play a role in this, as do age and gender.

Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream on proteins called “lipoproteins.” This is where the good and the bad part comes into play.

  • LDL – LOW-DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN – this is the type of cholesterol that will raise your risk for heart disease and stroke, and it makes up most of the cholesterol in your body. It’s what is sometimes called “bad” cholesterol.
  • HDL – HIGH-DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN – this type of lipoprotein absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver where it’s filtered out of the body. High levels of HDL can actually lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, which is why it’s sometimes called “good” cholesterol.

When your body has too much of the “bad” cholesterol, it can build up along the walls of your blood vessels, blocking the flow of blood, leading to heart attacks and strokes. There are steps you can take to make things better, but you have to know where you stand!

Take Control of Your Health

You don’t have to wait for the worst to happen. You can take control of your health now, and you can start with a simple blood test. Your local Any Lab Test Now offers the basic Lipid Panel which can provide you and your doctor with a wealth of information about your risks. The Lipid Panel will provide you with the following information:

  • LDL Level
  • HDL Level
  • Total Cholesterol
  • HDL/LDL Ratio
  • Triglyceride Level

The Lipid Panel is a great way to establish a baseline reading, so doctors can watch for any increases or decreases as time goes by. Based on that information, you and your doctor may find it beneficial to start (or stop) cholesterol-lowering medications. The Lipid Panel is a simple blood test, but we recommend that you fast at least eight hours before your specimen collection.

More to Consider

If you and your physician decide that cholesterol-lowering medications are the way to go, then he or she might recommend that you take the Cholesterol Medication Maintenance Panel. This panel includes the Lipid Panel, so you can check the medications’ effectiveness. And, because some of the cholesterol-lowering medicines can have an effect on the liver, it also includes the Liver Function Panel.

Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise is key to optimal health, but don’t forget that knowledge plays an important role as well. Stop by your local Any Lab Test Now location and see where you stand.

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