60-year-old William Smith is keeping a close eye on his health. Smith suffers from joint discomfort and has a family history of health issues.
"You might feel a little ailment or something like that, but instead of
you trying to diagnose it's best to go to the doctor and find out what's
going on," says Smith. "My dad, my brothers and sisters, runs with high blood pressure, diabetes, stuff like that so, I need to know what's happening with me."
Smith is taking the approach that physicians strongly encourage.
Doctors say men of certain ages, should receive prostate, colon, cardiovascular, cholesterol and diabetes screenings
"Every year you need to be seeing a physician, even after your pediatric ages, so 21, every year, even if you feel 'normal' so we can catch those things," says Dr. Jamie Bell, a physician
in the adult outpatient clinic at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.
Bell admits it can be hard for men to take that step into a doctor's office.
"Especially because I'm a female (doctor), but my best advice is just be honest, be open with them and find a physician that you're comfortable talking to," Bell explains.
The biggest issues in men's health are obesity and prostate cancer.
Doctors say it's important for men over the age of 40 to be screened and to look for the signs.
Bell said, "If they're getting up at night and going to the bathroom frequently, if they have problems, starting and stopping with their urine flow and also if they notice any blood in their urine. Those are signs they need to be very aware of."
Dr. Scott Tully, a urologist with St. Vincent's Hospital, who specializes in prostate cancer says early screenings and detection are critical.
"At age 50, you need to start having yearly prostate exams and a PSA blood test and we continue recommending that up to age 75 or 80," says Tully. "The most important thing with the PSA screenings is trying to pick up these prostate cancers at earlier stages when they are curable and that has been the big advantage of screenings is detecting them at earlier stages where we can offer them treatment options.
Tully also says there's almost a direct correlation between obesity and prostate cancer
"A high percentage of men that have prostate cancer are dealing with obesity. I'd say 70 percent of the men we see are overweight and 30 percent have significant obesity," Tully said.
Alabama ranks second in the nation in obesity, behind Mississippi. Tully says being overweight opens men to a bevy of health problems
"The big issue for men is visceral fat, which is abdominal fat, that is the big problem
and that is associated with what is called a metabolic syndrome, which is associated with hypertension, diabetes, cancer, strokes and heart attacks," says Tully. "So many of the men we see come in have all these problems and they all relate to a large extent back to obesity."