Men Vs. Boys (And The Price Of Their Toys)
A Doctor's Perspective On Guys, Cars, and Their Check-ups
Great-you call your cool car "pfat". But being fat is not cool. Obesity is an epidemic. The >30% of American men who are obese are at higher risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, gallbladder disease, arthritis, breathing problems, and colon and prostate cancer. If you haven't seen "Supersize Me", now's the time. Get inspired to shape up for life. Is there sugar in your tank?
Like sugar in a gas tank, diabetes can stop a man cold. This disease, which results from a lack of insulin production, causes a high blood level of glucose, which eventually poisons every organ in the body. Early symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability, and blurry vision. Simple blood testing leads to early diagnosis and intervention (diet, medication) that controls sugar levels and saves lives. How's your paint job holding up?
Men will notice the first nick in their vehicle's finish and go to great lengths to prevent damage by applying protectants and wax. But what about sunscreen? Men are more likely not to apply it than women, and are at greater risk of severe sunburn. Utah men are at greater risk of skin cancer than men in almost any other state, related to pigmentation and altitude in addition to bad habits. Skin exams are painless, and can even be fun if performed with your partner. Any new mole and any mole that has changed in size, shape, or color, requires professional evaluation. The most lethal form of skin cancer, melanoma (which occurs in men most commonly on the abdomen, chest, and back), can be cured if removed at any early stage. Better still, applying sunscreen regularly can prevent skin cancer. Again, an ounce of prevention pays here… Could you be running on empty?
While men don't come with gas gauges, the hormone testosterone gives men energy, muscle mass, and sex drive. When those are lacking, a simple blood test can exclude "hypogonadism" (low testosterone level). Many more men have this problem than have been evaluated and treated. While not life-threatening initially, chronically low levels of testosterone can increase a man's risk of osteoporosis and fracture, which can have lethal consequences. The blood test is best performed early in the morning, because of the circadian variation in testosterone production leading to highest levels in the morning (which incidentally explains why so many men seem to have their engines running at higher "rpm" in the morning than the evening). Bear in mind, testosterone is a double-edged sword: more men die of accidents and trauma than women, in part due to their tendency towards unnecessary risk taking; so buckle up, don't drink and drive, and follow the speed limit! How's your vehicle's performance?
When a car doesn't perform as it once did it may be because of faulty wiring, the wrong fuels or additives, clogged fuel lines, etc. A thorough inspection by a skilled mechanic often uncovers the underlying problem. When a man's sexual performance falters, it may have serious explanations. Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs in up to 40% of 40 year olds, increasing to 70% of 70 year olds. The most common cause is blood vessel disease, often brought about by smoking, hypertension, or diabetes (low testosterone is a less common explanation). While straightforward treatment options now exist, the importance of a thorough evaluation prior to taking a pill like Viagra cannot be stressed enough. What fuel and additives do you rely upon?
Some men spend more than their car really needs on high octane gas and special fuel additives. Does the body benefit from similar attention? While most men don't pay enough attention to what they eat and drink, others overdo the supplements. Simple advice for the human ride: drink plenty of water, eat five fruits and veggies daily, and take a cheap multivitamin. If you feel the need to add "STP", try fish oil capsules and flaxseed powder. Is your vehicle due for scheduled maintenance?
The human body doesn't come with an owner's manual, so who can blame a guy for not knowing better? Fortunately, the American Cancer Society has compiled a list of recommended tests for the male vehicle. Bear in mind, these screening tests are those recommended for men at "average risk"-a strong family history of heart disease, diabetes, colon or prostate cancer might require testing earlier and more often. Be sure to find a good mechanic (primary care physician) to guide you through the process.
After completing his education at the UCLA School of Medicine and the University of Kentucky, Dr. Gange entered the US Army as a urologist, where he was twice awarded the military medal of meritorious service.
Now at the Western Urological Clinic, Dr. Gange works to advance the field of urology and serve the community. He researches prostate cancer, BPH, prostatitis and more and is widely published.
Locally, Dr. Gange is president of the Utah Healthy Living Foundation, which works to improve Utah's health through education and screenings. He is the former chair of the Prostate Cancer Task Force in Salt Lake, and former chief of surgery at St. Mark's. Dr. Gange lectures to physicians and lay audiences nationally.