Men's Health


“Looking after our blokes”

As a registered nurse for the past 32 years I have lived a double life. Like in “The spy next door” (Jackie Chan), health promotor by day, but love those little treats. Hey, we all do.

A lot of the time we say one thing and do the other. “Do what I say, not what I do”. This is how many of us operate until we get a health scare. Of course, to support our bad habits, we collect stories of those amazing exceptions. Like the one I recently saw of a 100-year-old woman who’s secret to long life was “cream” and the guy at the start of the marathon who smoked 2 cigarettes before the starters gun fired and tucked his lighter and smokes into his sock for further on up the road. He then proceeded to run the whole way and finish with smoke in hand. But this is obviously a spectacular example of Russian roulette, and as with Nick in “The Deer Hunter”, your luck eventually runs out.

There seems to be so much health advice out there in the media. The question is, is it health advice or is it advertising? We must try to decide what we will believe. So much of the information is just someone else’s opinion, like the fads that come and go, with little or no science. And can we even trust the scientists, who keep contradicting each other with this new research and that new research?

Well, there are some certainties in this life. As a cynical teenager challenged me a few days ago, “we are born to die”. True. And as a speaker told his audience, “In 50 years most of us will be dead, and in 100 years we will all be dead”. But here now we can choose to be healthy or not, happy or not, glass half full or half empty. We couldn’t live every day thinking that we are about to die any minute. So, we make the healthiest choices we can. And when it comes to healthy choices most of it is common sense, and if you’re not sure you can google it and really confuse yourself.

There are so many checklists out there, so I thought I would give you another one. Follow this and you can’t go wrong, right?

  1. Exercise is the best antidepressant in the world today. You had a feeling this might be the case and now science is proving it (Dr John Arden: Mind-Brain-Gene).
  2. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is designed to rest and re-invigorate your mind.
  3. Eat flavoursome food, including some green stuff (this is primarily men’s health advice).
  4. Don’t drink too much booze, you’re an adult now, act like one.
  5. Do fun stuff, other than watching “American Pickers” on TV, or whatever, and preferably with other people.
  6. Be with your loved ones more.

See, all basic common sense that we all know intuitively. The other factor of course is getting the balance right. We know when we are out of balance, it’s obvious, we feel all is just not right. And what do most of us guys do in that moment, ignore it (the feeling) and just keep on going. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, insanity.

So don’t wait. You don’t have to stay unhappy, unhealthy or unfit. You can change the way you do things.

Now for the cruncher. You might need to get some help. Yeah. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Ouch.

You can get a referral to the PHO Mental health Team for counselling from your doctor or practice nurse. It’s not rocket science, but it’s worth a try, check out the web site for all the info.

Hugh Barrow: PHO Mental Health Team.

Get it checked!

Face the Facts

The reasons for the poor state of men’s health in New Zealand and around the world are numerous and complex and this is primarily due to a lack of awareness of the health issues men face. This can largely be attributed to the reluctance of men openly discussing the subject due to longstanding traditions, coupled with an ‘it’ll be alright’ attitude. Men are less likely to schedule doctors’ appointments when they feel ill or for an annual physical, thereby denying them the chance of early detection and effective treatment of common diseases.

  • The average life expectancy for men is five years less than women (presently 77 years old compared to 82).
  • 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime compared to 1 in 3 women.
  • Prostate cancer occurs mainly in men over 60, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in New Zealand men.
  • Each day, 7 New Zealanders die from stroke, with a further 5, 500 strokes occurring and often resulting in disability. A third of these strokes are attributable to high blood pressure. Therefore, having your blood pressure regularly monitored is a good preventative measure.
  • Bowel Cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) is the most common cancer in NZ. But bowel cancer is one of the most treatable and beatable cancers if caught early. Although it is most prevalent in people age 50+, men of all ages should watch out for any signs of bowel cancer.
  • Smoking causes more deaths every year in New Zealand than road crashes, suicide, skin cancers, drowning and homicide combined. It is no secret that if you are a smoker, it increases your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and a range of cancers and other diseases.
  • Depression affects one in six people at any time.
  • 1 in 10 NZ men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Some will need treatment and some will live with it, however don't take any chances. From age 40 get an annual prostate cancer check - starting with a simple blood test. Prostate cancer is curable if you get to it early enough.
  • Four times as many men commit suicide compared with women.
  • Men account for 70% of alcohol related deaths.
  • One-third of men have not seen a doctor in the past year. 10% have not seen one for five years.