Casey L. Cochran, DO, a physician at St. Mary’s Family Medicine North, discusses how men can take charge of their health.
Q. What are important lifestyle choices men can make to improve their health?
A. To improve your health, make sure you eat a balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats and whole grains. Exercise and staying physically active are just as important. The goal is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Start slow and work up to that if needed. Avoiding tobacco products and limiting alcohol intake is essential for good health. I recommend you talk to your doctor to discuss lifestyle choices that can help your overall health.
Q. I have no energy, could it be my testosterone?
A. Many things can cause fatigue, most of which are easily treated. I see sleep problems and physical deconditioning as the most common causes of fatigue. These are things that can be improved with a few simple changes. Testosterone replacement carries an increased risk of cardiovascular complications and some types of cancer. Talk to your doctor about causes of fatigue and your individual risk of testosterone replacement.
Q. What cancer screenings are most important?
A. Generally, I recommend colon cancer screening for every patient. Determining the appropriate timing of that involves a few different factors. Everyone is recommended to have a colonoscopy starting at age 50. If you have a first-degree relative that was diagnosed with colon cancer, your screening should start 10 years before their age of diagnosis.
If you have a significant history of smoking, you may qualify for lung cancer screening. Other cancer screenings can be done depending on your individual risk. If you have questions about which cancer screenings are appropriate for you, talk to your doctor. Knowing your family history before this conversation will help determine your risk and appropriate screenings.
Q. What should you know regarding your family history?
A. Medicine is often like a big puzzle and we have to gather a lot of individual pieces to see the whole picture. Family history is one of those puzzle pieces that help your provider narrow down what could be going on. I recommend knowing as much about your family history as possible.
At a minimum, it is beneficial to know if anyone passed away from rare diseases or cancers, history of heart problems, lung problems or diabetes, as well as a history of autoimmune diseases. Knowing this in your first-degree (parents and siblings) relatives is the most important.