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Talking is step one to better men’s health

Research by Censuswide for the Movember Foundation revealed nearly half (47%) of men feel they are unable to confide in friends about their problems, compared to 63% of women who do.

If there’s one thing that Movember does, it’s getting people talking about key health issues affecting men – notably prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.

On average, the men who were surveyed said they had three close friends, although nearly a third (27%) said they did not have any close friends or any friends at all.

Rethinking prostate cancer diagnosis

Acknowledging the power of the moustache in Movember, author and nutritional therapist Dr Marilyn Glenville highlighted a study on prostate cancer.

Scientists studied data from 970 men from South Australia to understand the relationship between being very overweight to levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), which can indicate prostate cancer.

They found that men who are obese have lower levels of PSA than lean men. This was attributed to the fact that testosterone levels are lower in obese men but oestrogen levels are higher. PSA levels increase in the presence of higher circulating testosterone. This research could change the way prostate cancer is screened and monitored in men who are overweight, potentially leading to different, more reliable, measures than PSA for those who are obese.

Overweight customers should be encouraged to improve diet and health to reduce risk of diseases such as cancer, says Dr Glenville. “I generally recommend the Mediterranean diet as it tends to be fairly balanced,” she adds.

The research also revealed that these friendships get weaker as they get older with men aged 55+ spending half the amount of time with friends than 16-24-year-olds. Over one in five (22%) men in this 55+ age group said they never saw their friends for a catch up.

Almost two in three men aged 16-24 (67%) would prefer to be known for having a ‘short fuse’ than ‘vulnerable’, and almost half (47%) would rather speak to a salesman for half an hour than a counsellor further highlighting the belief that men are reluctant to talk about their problems and feelings.

A previous study from the University of Harvard revealed that having someone to rely on has many health benefits, including helping the nervous system to relax, the brain stay healthier for longer, and reducing both emotional and physical pain.

Owen Sharp, CEO of the Movember Foundation said: “Previous studies have proven that poor social connections have a negative impact on physical and mental health and this has to change. This is what the whole month of Movember is all about and the year-round initiatives we fund to tackle social isolation and loneliness. Three out of the four people who take their own lives every year are men and it’s the biggest killer of men under the age of 44.”

Earlier research by Gillette found that nearly a third of men admit they bury their head in the sand regarding their health and that they are avoiding visiting the doctor as they don’t see it as important. Three-quarters will put off going to the doctors when showing signs of illness, with a quarter saying it’s because they don’t have the time and almost 39% saying it’s because they don’t think it’s important. Moreover, two-fifths don’t think it’s necessary to get a check-up and nearly one in five believe they are healthy and therefore don’t have to worry.

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