Black Men Must Put Their Health First.

With so many men putting healthcare low on the priority list, June is recognized as Men’s Health Month. Men’s Health month seeks to heighten the awareness of preventable health issues and inspire early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Early detection is critical for the increased survival rate for treatable conditions and diseases such as Testicular & Prostate Cancer, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Type II Diabetes, and HIV.

A Cleveland Clinic survey finds that most men, particularly Baby Boomers do not talk about their health.  60 percent said they only go to the doctor after a symptom or problem becomes intolerable. About 20 percent admitted the only reason they see the doctor is to stop a spouse or significant other from nagging.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 14.9% of men over 18 are fair or suffer poor health conditions. Even though there may be genetic factors influencing health for some men, certain lifestyle choices may be causing some preventable health problems. Many directly contribute to the leading causes of death for men.

  • 5% of men aged 20 and over are obese; Black Men 38.7%
  • 9% of men aged 20 and around have high blood pressure and are taking antihypertensive medication.

The numbers are equally unwavering when looking at genetic factors for black men. Black men have one of the most deficient health profiles in the U.S.

  • 60% of Black Men are more likely to die from stroke than Non-Hispanic White men.
  • 75% of Black men are less likely to have Health Insurance than White men.

A lack of awareness, personal lifestyles, unhealthy work environments, and poor health education have caused substantial deterioration of the well-being of American men. Organizations such as The Black Men’s Health project seek to change this narrative.  Their mission is to promote a deeper understanding of the health challenges of Black Men,  work to develop culturally competent policies and solutions to improve the health outcomes for Black Men, and to work with community organizations, health departments, and lawmakers to create better, healthier lives for Black men.

For years, structural forces have been in place to the detriment of the health and well-being of Black men. Social conditions like racism, segregation, stress, incarceration, spirituality and discrimination affect a high proportion of Black men’s health.  Black men have a history of mistrust of the health care system. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study comes up in discussions often when talking about Black men’s health. The Tuskegee study has also had an impact on Black men’s engagement with research.

Experts say that persistent racism affects Black men’s health. No matter how far you go in your education, no matter what you accomplish, you are still a Black man, and possible risk factors for various diseases and environmental issues can still play a role. Black men have worse health conditions than other groups that are not educated, and the data shows they do not catch up to white men even when they are. Generally, higher education means better-paying jobs and health insurance, healthier behaviors, and longer lives, but the increase is not as significant as for whites. Of the many health inequalities Black men already face, the risk of diabetes and obesity is much higher among the Black population, even highly educated. Therefore, Black men are more likely to die from chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer than white men.

With the focus on Black Men’s Health during June’s Men’s Health Month,  set aside time and make your health priority number one. Black Men, if it has been some time since your last doctor’s visit or you have been putting off getting that check-up for symptoms that may be potentially threatening the quality of your life, it is time to put your health first.

Many organizations are distributing educational information, providing free medical screenings, and hosting presentations from speakers along with physical exams, and more to help promote Men’s Health Week.

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