Men's health in Australia

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In 2007-08, nearly one third of males had a chronic health condition - these include, but are not limited to, cancer as well as heart and circulatory diseasesi. Being aware of the lifestyle determinants that affect the physical wellbeing of men can help prevent the onset of certain illnesses men are predisposed to.

Early detection and diagnosis of symptoms associated to certain cancers may help increase rates of survival.

Leading causes of death and burden of disease

The National Male Health Policy published in 2010 revealed that Australian males continue to have lower life expectancy than females and are dying earlier of some preventable diseasesii. In addition, figures showed that in 2006, 22% of male deaths occurred in the 22-64 age group compared to 14% of femalesii.

While prominent causes of cancers such as prostate and testicular cancer can be attributed to family history, the Development of a National Men's Health Policy report indicated that, for men, the highest proportion of total disease burden is associated to tobacco smoking, overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and alcohol consumptioniii. Majority of these determinants are leading causes of Ischaemic heart diseaseiv. And this evidence translates itself to figures found in the Causes of Death, Australia, 2010 ABS report.

In 2010, the leading causes of death for males included Ischaemic heart disease, trachea and lung diseases, cerebrovascular diseases (brain dysfunction caused by limited or no blood flow to the brain), prostate cancer and colon and rectum cancer v. These diseases saw a higher proportion of death in males than females, with Ischaemic heart disease - the number one cause of death in males - having 117 male deaths to every 100 female deathsv.

Prostate cancer also has a significant impact on the status of men's health in Australia. ACIM (Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality) findings in 2011 revealed that it is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and the third most common cause of cancer death. In 2008, there were 20,750 new cases diagnosed in Australia and apart from family history, obesity is a prominent cause vi.

While testicular cancer occurs less frequently than prostate cancer, it is the second most common cancer to occur in young men (aged 18 to 39) vii. In 2008, close to 700 new cases were diagnosed and over the past twenty years, the rate of diagnosis has grown by more than 50% viii.

For more information on the facts or treatment for certain cancers, head to your GP or go online.

Healthy initiatives

It is increasingly vital that men engage with the health risks that their gender is predisposed to. Organisations such as Blue September dedicate their cause to raising awareness of cancer is men. Head to their website and you can find tips on lifestyle choices and making early detections that can help reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. There are also links to facts pages on certain cancers.

Currently, there is no national screening program for prostate cancer. The prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test can detect the disease early, however elevated PSA levels do not necessarily mean cancer is present. For more information, head to the Cancer Council Australia website. Testicular cancer may be detected by physical examination, an ultrasound scan or from blood tests. It is important to make sure you regularly receive general body check ups, as well as learn the symptoms for early detection. While the GP or community health centre can provide services and support, it may be useful to start engaging with online health communities such as Mensheds Australia, which supports programs to improve men's health and wellbeing.

Poor health can have detrimental effects on a family and the last thing you want to worry about, in the event of a critical illness or disease, is providing your family adequate financial support. Life insurance can safeguard your family from the financial burdens that you may incur from the costs associated with treating critical illnesses. Visit the Allianz website today for a life insurance quote in just two minutes.

i Department of Health and Ageing, 2011, National Male Health, Australian Government,

ii Department of Health and Ageing, 2010, National Male Health Policy, Australian Government,$File/MainDocument.pdf, p.12

iii Department of Health and Ageing, 2008, Development of a National Men’s Health Policy, Australian Government,$File/info-paper-2.pdf, p.11

iv SRS Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., Ischemic Heart Disease : Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment,

v Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Causes of Death, Australia, 2010,

vi Better Health Channel, 2012, Prostate cancer, State Government Victoria,

vii Better Health Channel, 2012, testicular cancer, State Government Victoria,

viii Cancer Council Australia, 2012, Testicular cancer,