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Prostate cancer on rise; males at higher risk for heart attack, stroke

Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, experts say

June 15, 2010
By KURT HAUGLIE Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - It may seem obvious that taking preventative measures for health care is better than dealing with the consequences of not doing so, but many men especially aren't as diligent about their health as they should be.

David Kass, family practice and outpatient-care physician at Portage Health in Hancock, said there are three levels of care he uses with his patients: primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary treatment if the preventative measures aren't followed or aren't successful.

Medical conditions specific to males are prostate and testicular cancer, Kass said. Men, also, are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke than women.

Some of the primary prevention measures recommended apply to males and females, Kass said, including getting proper nutrition and adequate exercise, which can reduce the possibility of becoming obese.

"That's appropriate for all ages," he said.

Obesity can lead to heart disease and diabetes, Kass said.

Alcohol can cause health problems, but Kass said coupled with various behaviors, such as driving, it can lead to other health problems, especially for men.

"Men are at greater risk for alcohol abuse," he said. "Men are greater risk takers."

Reducing or eliminating alcohol use is a primary-prevention action.

Tobacco abuse traditionally has been more prevalent with males than females, Kass said, and switching to chewing tobacco only slightly reduces the risk for cancer.

"A lot of young men think (chewing tobacco) is less risky for lung cancer," he said.

Although chewing tobacco won't lead to lung cancer, Kass said it can cause cancers of the mouth.

For reasons that aren't fully understood, Kass said stop-smoking methods such as drugs, nicotine gum and nicotine patches won't help people to stop using chewing tobacco.

Quitting tobacco use, whether chewing or smoking, is an important preventative action, Kass said.

"Quitting smoking cold turkey is most effective," he said.

Kass said secondary prevention measures include screening for diseases specific to men.

Testicular cancer can be a problem for young males and older men, Kass said, so testing is important to either prevent it or catch it early. Males 15 to 25 years old should be screened for the disease.

"After age 25, we usually don't see testicular cancer until age 70," he said.

In younger males, Kass said undescended testicles can lead to cancer.

The prostate is a gland about which not a lot is known, Kass said. It does contribute to the production of seminal fluid, and acts as a pump to move the fluid along.

It's uncertain, also, what can cause prostate cancer, Kass said, but family history of the disease is an important factor.

"It's a disease that usually occurs after age 45," he said.

Kass said it is known, however, that testosterone is a factor in the development of prostate cancer.

"It's the effect of testosterone on the prostate gland over time," he said.



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