June is Men’s Health Month
Written by Louis DePalo, MD including interview with Ash Tewari, MD
As a man of a certain age, when one speaks of “men’s health,” the immediate thought is of prostate cancer, nocturnal awakening, and waning sex drive. These are all important health concerns – prostate cancer in particular, is known to affect 1 in 7 men and claim the lives of roughly 30,000 men each year. Further in this article, I sit down with my colleague, the world renowned urologist and prostate cancer specialist, Ash Tewari, MD to discuss the screening and prevention of this cancer in more detail.
However, there is much more to “men’s health” and it starts with early education and prevention.
Let’s talk about it.
Napoleon Bonaparte is known to have said “two things unite men, fear and interest.”
I would suggest that we turn this around and consider that men’s health should focus on dispelling fear while developing interests. This should begin at an early age when boys are beginning to explore social intercourse, intellectual pursuits, fitness, wellness, and myriad other activities. By promoting healthy physical, mental, and social habits at a young age, we can help boys become well-informed men whose interests and education can actually dispel fear through improved wellness.
Boys on their journey to manhood face many health issues developmentally, and unlike their female counterparts, often have less health literacy. Things like routine medical exams and awareness of sexually related risk behaviors generally come late into the male consciousness.
On the other hand, young women often have more health checkpoints than young men as their bodies develop. This can result in education about the importance of regular medical check-ups, sexually transmitted disease prevention, and how to better understand symptoms in one’s evolving self.
For young boys this period is often shrouded in mystery and insecurity. Thankfully, there is more attention now than ever before on the importance of health and wellness in developing young men. Yet still, early literacy around sexually transmitted diseases, screening for cancer, and diet and nutritional deficiencies are lacking.
As boys grow into men, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old, they grow old because they quit playing.”
-Oliver Wendall Holmes
Men get to play, we just must learn to play smart.
The challenge, therefore, is to “play” from a solid platform of good mental, social, and physical training. When armed with a knowledge of our limitations and physical vulnerabilities as we age, we can make better-informed decisions around our habits and wellness.
Finally, the Freudian slip “if it’s not one thing, it’s your mother,” brings home the impact of genetics on men’s health as we age. Many of us are aware of the cardiovascular and cancer risks that we inherit from our fathers. However, did you know sleep apnea runs predominantly in men who share the same body habitus as their fathers and brothers? Did you know that subtle polygenetic interactions drive risk for addictive behavior, diabetes, aortic aneurysm, and atherosclerosis? This information is why it’s so important to have a trusted and experienced primary care provider to help develop and guide your unique plan of care.
COVID-19 and Men
Of course, no medical blog these days would be complete without a discussion of COVID-19. Men have suffered disproportionately during this pandemic and ties to testosterone levels have been suggested. These links are currently under investigation at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine under the direction of my colleague, Dr. Ash Tewari.
My Interview with Dr. Ash Tewari, urologist and prostate specialist
I was glad to grab some time with Dr. Tewari, Chairman of Milton and Carroll Petrie Department of Urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, to discuss what was top of mind for him this Men’s Health month.
In our interview:
- He reiterated the call for men to start engaging in health prevention visits, stating that most of his patients are encouraged by their loved ones to visit the doctor versus them going on their own accord.
- We spent time talking about prostate cancer, a disease that affects 3 million men, and discussing what men 45 years and older should be doing to screen and treat this cancer.
- The role of genomics in cancer as 20% of the cases are inherited vs 80% being influenced by a person’s environment.
- Lastly, we briefly discussed the annual Push Up Challenge that Dr. Tewari leads with Dennis Charney, MD, Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and other colleagues, every September in honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The Challenge is to perform 31 push ups to honor the 31,000 men that die each year from prostate cancer, while also educating others on the benefits of exercise as it relates to cancer. See a video from last year’s Push Up Challenge.
June is Men’s Health Month, what is top of mind for you this month?
How should young men begin their road to good health?
Can you discuss your recommendations on prostate screenings?
What is the role of genomics in cancer?
What do you hope to achieve with your annual push up challenge?
About Ash Tewari, MD
As Director of the Department of Urology at Mount Sinai, he leads a multidisciplinary team committed to improving prostate cancer treatment, research, and education. To date, he has performed over 5,000 robotic radical prostatectomy surgeries. The Tewari Lab is working on unlocking the genomic causes of prostate cancer and translating genomic information to practical physician application through imaging.
Dr. Tewari’s case series is one of the largest in the world and his outcomes are considered the gold standard for this procedure. Dr. Tewari’s clinical expertise in prostate cancer includes targeted biopsies, cystoscopies, robotic prostatectomies, as well as the management of active surveillance prostate cancer patients. He has also initiated clinical protocols investigating the utility of focal therapy platforms for the treatment of prostate cancer. Dr. Tewari has been consecutively listed in New York Magazine’s Top Doctors issue since 2006. Learn more at his Center for Prostate Cancer at www.prostatecancercenternyc.com.
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