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A Health Expo Just for Men

August 23, 2011

Panel of Health Care Professionals to Discuss Men's Health Issues

If you’ve been searching for a convenient way to get the latest information about men’s health-related issues, the Men’s Health Expo at Washington Hospital—coming up on Sept. 10—is a great place to start.

The event will include presentations on prostate health, erectile dysfunction, leading health concerns for men, and good nutrition to prevent kidney stones and gout, followed by a panel question and answer discussion, as well as a health expo featuring education booths staffed by Washington Hospital clinicians.

Learning early about issues like cancer of the prostate and testicle, benign prostate hyperplasia, and erectile dysfunction can be an important first step toward early diagnosis and effective treatment.

“The key is to see your primary care physician for annual check ups, whether or not you are experiencing any symptoms or problems,” said Albert Brooks, M.D., Chief of Medical Services at Washington Hospital. “Don’t wait for symptoms to appear before you start getting regular care.”

Dr. Brooks will serve as moderator for the panel discussion during the Men’s Health Expo. (See below for the event’s schedule and location.)

Prostate health, cancer and ED

One of the most significant concerns for men is prostate cancer, afflicting one in six men in the United States during their lifetime. Of those, one in 36 will die, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Most times, cancer of the prostate is not symptomatic,” according to Men’s Health Expo panelist Mark Saleh, M.D., a board-certified urologist on the medical staff at Washington Hospital. “Now that we do screening, we tend to diagnose cases before any symptoms occur.”

Compared to some other types of cancer, Dr. Saleh remarks that prostate cancer tends to be slow growing. However, this can vary because there exists a wide spectrum of factors involved in its rate of growth, including degrees of aggressiveness, grade of cancer, when it is diagnosed, as well as family history (genetic predisposition).

Another common problem related to the prostate is benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that is more common than cancer.

“BPH will affect virtually every man,” Dr. Saleh says. “The prostate gland continues to grow throughout a man’s life. Men may begin to experience symptoms for an enlarged prostate as early as age 40, while others don’t have any trouble until they are in their 60’s or 70’s.”

Symptoms of BPH include a weak urinary stream, trouble emptying the bladder, dribbling at the end of urination, a more urgent or frequent need to urinate, or the need to urinate more often at night. Moderate or severe symptoms of BPH can be treated with medication. If medication is not effective or can’t be tolerated by the patient, surgery can be performed to alleviate severe symptoms.

Many men are also concerned about erectile dysfunction, or ED.

“Men should know that ED is not a normal part of aging,” says Dr. Saleh. “It can be caused by various health conditions, especially problems related to diabetes or heart disease. ED is more common as men get older, but it can be treated effectively.”

Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in young men, who are at higher risk between the ages of 18 and 35. Dr. Saleh recommends that a man should perform a self-examination of his testicles once a month to check for swelling or abnormal lumps. If anything unusual is detected, he should report this to his doctor immediately.

“Testicular cancer is very treatable, even when it is advanced,” reports Dr. Saleh.

Some surprising men’s health statistics

Men’s Health Expo panelist Steven A. Curran, M.D., a board-certified family practitioner on the medical staff at Washington Hospital, points out that some men’s health statistics might come as a surprise. Similarly, certain conditions may be overlooked because they’re not seen as a “man’s” disease. “Men can get breast cancer, surprisingly enough, even though 99 percent of cases occur in women,” Dr. Curran points out.

Also, men’s behavior related to common mental health maladies like depression vary from women. “As far as suicide risk, women are much more likely to attempt, but men have a much higher rate of death linked to a suicide attempt,” he says.

Another potential surprise, Dr. Curran says, is that while prostate cancer affects men in higher numbers, lung cancer still kills more men. “Men are also more likely to die of an injury in the workplace than women are.”

Complicating men’s health issues further is the fact that men also are less likely than women to seek regular care, according to Dr. Curran. As a result, health conditions that could be caught during a routine exam may go undiagnosed for a longer period of time.

“On the whole, men seem to be less likely to go to the doctor on a regular basis, perhaps because they do not have an equivalent to the annual OB/Gyn appointments like women do, and therefore they tend to slip through the cracks easier,” he says. “We now suggest, starting at age 18, to be screened every two years for blood sugar. And if you’re 35 and over, you should have your cholesterol checked every two years, or beginning at age 20 if you have strong family history of heart disease or other risk factors.

Eat right for good health

Gout, a type of arthritis, is a condition that tends to be more common in men. People with gout experience sudden, severe attacks of joint pain and swelling.

“Maintaining a healthy diet and body weight through moderate daily exercise and control of fat and calorie intake may help lower your risk of having gout or experiencing future attacks,” says Macaria Meyer, a Washington Hospital Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator.

Lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of getting gout include excessive alcohol intake, obesity, crash dieting that leads to sudden weight loss, high blood pressure and the use of diuretics, or water pills. People with gout should follow a low purine diet, which means avoiding or limiting foods such as organ meats, beef, lamb, pork, bacon, game meats, sardines, herring, mackerel, scallops, gravy and beer.

Good nutrition can also play a part in helping with another condition common in men – kidney stones. About 80 percent of people who have kidney stones are men, who tend to be at higher risk between ages 30 and 40.

“Depending on the type of kidney stone, a special diet may be helpful,” says Meyer. “Important dietary recommendations for the most common type of stone, which contains calcium, are to restrict sodium and reduce protein intake. You should also drink more fluids, especially water.”

Men who have or are at risk of having kidney stones, should avoid caffeine, black tea, grapefruit juice and apple juice, Meyer recommends.

Men’s Health Expo: Take Charge of Your Health

When: Saturday, September 10

Time: Lectures, 9 to 11 a.m.; Health Expo, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Conrad E. Anderson M.D. Auditorium, Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Fremont

Register: Visit www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070