Men's Health Week: Key Risk Areas

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It's Men’s Health week, so today we're handing over to Dr Nick, to give you the lowdown on the key issues in men's health and the preventative methods you can take to reduce your risk…

Men's Health: Key Risk Areas | Neat Nutrition. Active Nutrition, Reimagined For You.


The Prostate

The prostate is a little like Kim Kardashian; they're both famous, but no one really knows why or what they actually do! 

So, what is the prostate and what does it do? Well, the prostate is a gland found only in men, which surrounds the urethra. It's found at the base of the bladder. It's main function is in the production of semen. This might sound pretty straightforward, but in some men, it can cause problems. The two important problems that can occur are Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) and of course prostate cancer.


Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) 

In some men, the prostate gets larger as they get older. This can narrow the urethra, altering how urine passes through it. Symptoms include an inability to fully empty the bladder, increased urgency and the frequency in which it’s necessary to pass urine, difficulty starting urination and having to get up numerous times in the night to visit the bathroom. 

Treatment will likely include medication to allow more urine to pass through the urethra and to reduce the size of the prostate. Other treatments require minimally invasive surgery to "core-out" a larger passage through the prostate.


Prostate Cancer

Unfortunately, the prostate can sometimes enlarge due to cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.


Risk Factors: 

  • Men

  • Over 50

  • Black African and Black Caribbean origin: three times more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to white men. Asian and Oriental men have the lowest incidence

  • 5 times more likely to have if father diagnosed, 3.5 times more likely if your brother has had it

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

The main symptoms of prostatic cancer are similar to those of BPH and therefore should not be ignored. These include poor flow, hesitancy, frequency, urgency and blood in the urine. Diagnosis is firstly getting a blood test to measure your PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen), to see if this is raised. Second would be a digital (as in finger, not iPhone!) rectal examination as this is the only way a clinician can feel the prostate gland. A biopsy might also need to be taken.


Testicular Cancer 

Although not very common, testicular cancer if detected early enough, can be treated very well and the vast majority of men can be completely cured. It's most commonly found in men between 20 - 50 years old. Symptoms include a lump in the scrotum, an enlarged testicle, pain, backache and enlarged breasts. Tests include an ultrasound scan and blood test. Treatment may consist of surgical removal of the affected testicle and/or chemotherapy. So, make sure you check your scrotum for lumps! 


Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for diseases that affects the arteries of the body and includes heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and peripheral arterial disease. Although cardiovascular disease affects both men and women, the occurrence is higher in men.


Risk Factors: 

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • High cholesterol

  • Smoking

  • Sedentary Lifestyle

  • Obesity

  • Family History

  • Ethnic Background


Although a lot of these risk factors may be something you're predisposed to, a healthy lifestyle can certainly reduce the risk of acquiring them, reduce the extent of their effect and some can even be eliminated completely. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise and good stress management can go a very long way in preventing cardiovascular disease.


Dietary Key Points: 

  • Low in high GI carbohydrates (think oatmeal, beans and fruit) 

  • High in vegetables and fibre

  • Eliminate trans-fat (say goodbye to excess doughnuts and cookies!) 

  • Swap out saturated fat or unsaturated where possible (try less butter and more fish, nuts and avocado)

  • Minimise processed and pre-prepared food


Standard Exercise Points: 

  • Five times a week 

  • 15-20 minutes

  • Moderate to high intensity


    This is what I prescribe to my patients as a bare minimum exercise requirement. It might sound like a lot, but 15-20 mins is not really that difficult to squeeze into even the busiest of schedules. The key, however, is the "moderate to high intensity" bit. By this, I mean your heart should be racing, you should be sweating, and you should be unable to complete a full sentence without taking a breath.


    Poor "Performance"

    AKA - Erectile Dysfunction. This is a problem that many men have but are usually too embarrassed to discuss. I find that in men under 40 years of age, the cause is nearly always psychological: either stress, low mood, depression or anxiety. In men over 40, although a lot of time the reason is psychological it may also be cardiovascular disease and is definitely more prevalent in men with diabetes. Either way, don't be afraid to speak to your doctor about it, as they will be able to help and provide advice.

    For more information, you can visit


    This blog is written by friend of Neat, Dr Nick Ambatzis MB BS, MSc (SEM), MRCGP.

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