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An attitude adjustment may save your life

You’re plopped on the couch with your second beer in one hand, a remote in the other, watching the biggest, clearest screen available from the nearby big box retailer.

“This is the life!” you say.

But it’s not the life that researchers say will help prevent cancer. In fact, a couch potato lifestyle —watching activity rather than participating in it — is the opposite of what’s recommended.

There’s a certain bold stubbornness some men tend to exude when someone — like a spouse or loved one — suggests how to spend their free time, not to mention seeing a doctor. But your loved ones actually are trying to save your life.

Men are more likely to get prostate, lung, and skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s why it’s important to manage cancer risks with early detection and a healthy lifestyle.

Prostate

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men, other than skin cancer – one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. In Texas, an estimated 12,892 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed 2016.

Survival rates have increased dramatically for all stages of prostate cancer. If prostate cancer is detected early, before it spreads, patients have a nearly 100 percent chance of survival after five years.

Lung

More men have lung cancer — both small cell and non-small cell — than women. It is the next most common cancer in men behind prostate cancer. An estimated 7,360 new lung cancer cases in men will be diagnosed this year, according to the Texas Cancer Registry. The risk for smokers is higher, but some non-smokers also develop lung cancer.

Skin

You don’t have to be a beach-loving sun worshipper to develop skin cancer. Normal outdoor activities like doing yard work, going fishing, or hiking in the hot Texas sun can be just as dangerous. But you can prevent exposure by staying covered with sunscreen, sunglasses, and wearing hats with wide, tight brims, and long sleeve shirts. Also, avoid direct exposure in the middle of the day, if possible. Moles or unusual spots on your skin should be reported to your doctor, especially if you notice changes in them.

Preventive maintenance

Many men would be horrified at the thought of not getting regular maintenance – like oil changes and tire rotation – for the family’s vehicles. Taking these proactive steps helps prevent break downs.

Men should also consider the ‘check engine light’ for their bodies and physical health. Here’s a men’s health maintenance checklist:

Watch your diet and nutrition. Summer is tempting with barbecue ribs and smoked sausage, but cutting back a little now may extend your years for enjoying it later in life.

Stay physically active; limit the time you spend sitting, lying down, watching TV, etc.

Don’t smoke or use tobacco in any form. With our cowboy culture in parts of Texas, remember that smokeless tobacco also is a major health risk that can cause mouth, tongue, cheek, and gum cancer.

You should be aware of your cancer risk, which may be higher if you have a family history of cancer, or a certain genetic profile linked to specific cancer types.

You should consult a physician to make an informed decision about cancer screening.

Summertime means spending extra time with family. Taking stock of the blessings of family, and your responsibilities to them, should include a new commitment to taking care of yourself. You may have received a funny card on Father’s Day, but don’t miss the serious hidden message: We need you around for years to come.

By: Alvaro Restrepo, MD

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