Four health facts for Father’s Day

Mens Health - Taking Care of Your Health

By Curtis Thill, M.D. 


What’s one of the quickest ways to end a conversation with a man? Ask him when’s the last time he’s had a medical checkup.

Here’s an important fact: research shows that until they reach retirement age, men are far less likely than women to either see a physician or report symptoms to a healthcare provider. 

June is men’s health month, and the week leading up to Father’s Day is the official Men’s Health Week in many areas. Why is this important to consider? 

In our superhero Superman and Captain America world, there exists a cultural expectation that promotes unreasonable toughness, grit and strength. Within this general cultural framework, the only men who see primary care providers are possibly weak. 

A Cleveland Clinic survey found that some 40% of men will only seek medical services when they experience a serious health issue. Those responding in this category never seek or undergo a routine annual checkup.

The irony? This “superhuman” response often masks an underlying fear of what might come out of such a visit. In fact, some 21% of men admit that uncomfortable anxiety over a possible negative diagnosis blocks them from seeing a medical provider.  

When this type of avoidance behavior disguised as bravado shows up, men can embrace a state of denial. That state, as I can tell you from three decades of medical practice in southern Indiana, is not a good place to live.

The solution? It’s time to face facts, abandon any embarrassment, summon up some real courage, and use this month as encouragement to improve your health. Here are additional facts to think about for motivation.

Your heart

A sound and healthy heart promotes an active and productive life. The good news is that heart disease rates have been declining. The sobering news for men is that heart disease remains the leading cause of death. Men often develop heart disease some 10-15 years earlier than women. 

The genes you inherited often influence your risk of heart disease, but there are several things you can do to reduce your personal risk. These include maintaining a healthy weight, lower your fat intake, stop smoking (if you’re a smoker, which is more statistically likely if you’re male), and only drink alcohol in moderation.

That may not sound like fun if you’re a male, but here’s an important fact to consider: many heart attacks occur with no advance symptoms, and only about 50% of men survive sudden cardiac arrest. Screening tests can help prevent this.

Cancer risk

Nobody likes the “C” word. But seeing your primary care provider on a regular basis – and especially when you exhibit unusual symptoms – can dramatically promote prevention and the odds of a healthy life. 

The important fact? Men have a 1 in 2 chance of developing some form of cancer during their lives. If you were (or are) a smoker, those odds increase. Remember that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men – it affects one in nine. Most prostate cancer grows slowly, so early detection represents a major plus.

Mental health

Men are notorious for not talking about feelings, as research again shows a bias of perceived weakness and vulnerability when they do. Men need to find someone they can talk to and be open. Struggling with painful depression and anxiety is not a requirement to be a man.

A parting thought: when they finally come in, many of my male patients are relieved to find that their symptoms weren’t what they feared. This month you can reduce risk by taking active responsibility for your health. Be a true superhero and go see your provider!

A board-certified family physician, Dr. Curtis Thill has been serving patients and families in the Crawford County Indiana region for more than three decades.


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