Your Role in Preventing Disease

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The health conditions a man should be concerned about are those that he is most likely to encounter in the short term and in the long term. These conditions include those that are disabling and life-threatening.

Risk is determined by age, family history, personal habits and prior health. Risk changes over time. People should carefully consider risk when designing their preventive health programs.

Causes of mortality

Causes of mortality vary in relationship to age. In younger age groups, accidents and suicide are frequent causes of death. In the middle-aged and older populations, heart disease and cancer become the dominant causes. In the oldest age groups, infections such as pneumonia and influenza become important considerations.

Chronic conditions

Preventive interventions for skin cancer, vision loss, hearing loss and arthritis should be addressed. Often, people forget or don't care for these nagging conditions which do not directly impact their own mortality but are disabling.

Specific interventions


Dietary selections should consider health risk factors and presence of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. Generally, a diet should be low in salt and fat, high in fiber with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables and a de-emphasis on animal fats. Calcium totaling 1500 mg per day should be included, particularly in women but also in men.

Seat Belts

Seat belts should be worn whenever you are in a motor vehicle. Injury and death from auto accidents are common causes of disability and death in adults.


Alcohol consumption should be limited to no more than two ounces of liquor or the equivalent daily. No alcohol should be consumed at least one to two days each week.



Although no specific diseases or conditions are clearly attributable to caffeine intake, a prudent limitation of daily caffeine is no more than two to four cups of coffee. Some people are sensitive to caffeine and therefore intake may need to be adjusted to a lower level.

Sexual Practices

Sexually transmitted disease and HIV are important and common clinical entities. Therefore, safe sexual practices are a must in an adult preventive health program.


The negative health effects related to smoking are well-known and well-publicized. Nonetheless, many adults continue to smoke. Stopping smoking is a major goal in any preventive health program.


Exercise cannot be emphasized strongly enough as a preventive measure for almost any significant health problem. Maintaining good physical fitness on an on-going basis is important in preventive health.

Generally, 30 to 40 minutes of a sustained exercise activity, three to five days per week is the goal for most adults. An exercise program should be started slowly and gradually build up to this level.

Exercise needs to be modified for people who have conditions such as heart disease, arthritis or lung disease.

On-going exercise is best maintained when it is done with someone else who is in a similar situation and scheduled at a time in a person's day where there is not a lot of competition for that time.

Other Preventive Health Methods

  • Wear hearing protection for excessive noise exposure
  • Wear sunscreens when outdoors
  • Have regular eye and dental examinations
  • Be safety-conscious when participating in risky activities such as wearing bike helmets when biking and wearing reflective clothing when running in the dark


This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional written health information, please contact the Health Information Center at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771 or visit This document was last reviewed on: 1/2/2002