URI pharmacist offers advice for a healthy Father’s Day

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KINGSTON, R.I. – June 14, 2012 – On the occasion of Father’s Day, URI Pharmacy Associate Professor Lisa Cohen, an expert on men’s health, shares her advice about the top three health problems affecting men.

In addition to teaching pharmacy students in men’s health, Cohen conducts research at the VA Hospital in Providence where she regularly meets with men over age 50 who have diabetes. In addition, she conducts diabetes education with patients at an endocrine practice.

The top 3 health issues facing men and how to help:

1. Cardiovascular problems

The leading killer of men in the United States is cardiovascular, which includes many serious conditions including heart attacks, high blood pressure, and stroke, Cohen said. It also encompasses erectile dysfunction, which is caused by atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

How to help:

Men should start regularly visiting a physician in their twenties, just like most women do. Cohen said men are more likely to wait until there’s a problem to visit a doctor and they do that for many reasons. In her research groups, older men often say they were too busy working or taking care of their families to visit a doctor. Another reason given is that they didn’t feel connected to their doctor. Unlike women, who start with regular appointments at an early age for gynecological or obstetrical reasons, men wait, she said. Unfortunately, while they delay a trip to the doctor’s, they develop health risks, such as weight gain and high blood pressure.

2. Prostate cancer

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, and sexual problems. “It is not a leading cause of death but it will change the way a man lives his life,” Cohen said.

How to help:

Again, go to the doctor earlier and have healthy screenings so cancer can be detected early. Cohen also recommended starting, or in many cases, restarting healthy behaviors. Quit smoking and start exercising or exercise more. Eat cancer-fighting foods like tomatoes, which not only taste delicious but contain lycopene, a phytochemical concentrated in the tissues of the prostate, and blueberries, which are among the fruits highest in antioxidant power.

3. Enlarged prostate

As men get older, the prostate enlarges, surrounding the urethra, which carries urine out of the body, and causing urination problems. After age 40, male patients may start to notice changes with urination or say they experience these sorts of problems. Enlarged prostate is also known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH. “This will happen to every man if they live long enough,” Cohen said. Left untreated, an enlarged prostate could cause a blockage and kidney damage.

How to help:

Again, see a doctor! The sooner the condition is treated, the sooner functioning may return to normal. Cohen stressed that prescription medication is available for this condition and it not only treats symptoms, it helps to shrink the prostate.