Gov. Blagojevich Encourages Men To Take Active Role In Their Health

Armen Hareyan's picture
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In an effort to increase awareness of the medical conditions affecting men and the need to live a health lifestyle, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich proclaimed June 11-17, 2007 Men's Health Week in Illinois.

Men's Health Week is celebrated each year as the week leading up to and including Father's Day with the goal of raising awareness of preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

"It's important to make sure our fathers, brothers and grandfathers are taking good care of themselves and the first step in living a healthy lifestyle is education," said Gov. Blagojevich. "I want to encourage men to take an active role in their health this week, starting by setting up an appointment for a checkup."

Men, on average, live six years less than women. One in four men has high blood pressure, one in five will develop prostate cancer, one in five can expect to have a heart attack before the age of 65, one in 12 can expect to develop diabetes and one in 22 will suffer from depression at some time in his life, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

"Some factors such as family history or racial and ethnic background can increase your odds of having these diseases. But men can improve their chances of living a healthy life by practicing some common sense habits, like eating healthier foods, staying active, drinking in moderation, kicking the tobacco habit and getting annual checkups and screenings," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker.

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Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in American men (excluding skin cancer). Approximately one out of every five men will develop the disease in his lifetime. The most current data from the IDPH Illinois State Cancer Registry reports 8,011 men with prostate cancer in 2004. About 3 percent of the men who develop prostate cancer die from the disease, including 1,228 men in 2004. It's estimated approximately 8,240 men will be reported with prostate cancer in 2007. More than 80 percent of prostate cancer cases are in men 65 years of age and older. African-American men, who are about one-third more likely than white men to develop the disease, have the highest incidence rate for prostate cancer in the world.

Certain factors increase the risk of developing prostate cancer:

* Being over 50-years of age
* Being an African American
* Eating a diet high in fat
* Having a family history of prostate cancer

It is important to remember that, while these factors may increase a person's risk of developing the disease, they do not cause prostate cancer. Many men with these risk factors never develop prostate cancer; others, who have prostate cancer, have no known risk factors. Prostate cancer is diagnosed by screening procedures that can detect the disease in its earliest stages, many times before there are any symptoms.

All men 50 years of age and older should ask their doctors about prostate cancer testing every year. African Americans and men with close family members who have had prostate cancer should talk to their doctors about starting screenings at a younger age.

The Illinois Department of Public Health Communities of Color Initiative awarded $1.2 million for prostate cancer awareness and education grants in fiscal year 2007.

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