Dr. Anthony Chiew Han Yang, Primary Care Doctor

1 November, 2023

Men's Health Awareness: The Significance of Movember

November arrives as a dedicated month for men’s health and well-being. On average, men face a shorter life expectancy compared to women right from birth. In Malaysia, statistics from 2022 show that women outlive men by 4.5 years. The average life expectancy for males in Malaysia stands at 70.8 years, while females enjoy 75.6 years, as reported by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia. This trend is not unique to Malaysia but is observed worldwide.

The Gender Life Expectancy Gap

The question arises: why do men have shorter lifespans? Numerous factors contribute to this disparity. Men tend to embrace riskier behaviours, engaging in activities detrimental to their health such as excessive smoking and alcohol consumption. Heart disease affects men at a younger age and higher rates, partly due to lower oestrogen levels compared to women. Uncontrolled high blood pressure and unfavourable cholesterol levels further exacerbate these health risks.

 

Movember: A Global Men's Health Movement

Two decades ago, a group of friends in Australia initiated the Movember movement with a mission to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health issues, and suicide prevention. Movember gets its name from the combination of “moustache” and “November.” Men across the world grow moustaches throughout November to draw attention to men’s health concerns.

Prostate Cancer: A Global Concern

Prostate cancer ranks as the second most common cancer in men worldwide and the fourth most common in Malaysia. By 2030, it is expected to affect 1.7 million individuals globally, resulting in nearly half a million deaths. Typically, prostate cancer targets older men between the ages of 60 and 70. Men should pay attention to symptoms such as difficulties in urination, painful or burning urination, frequent urination, and rectal pressure or discomfort, as these could be early indicators of prostate cancer.

Testicular Cancer: Younger Men Are At Risk

Testicular cancer predominantly affects men aged 15 to 35. The positive news is that this cancer often offers a good chance of recovery, even in advanced stages. Risk factors include undescended testicles, abnormal testicular development, a family history of testicular cancer, or certain ethnic backgrounds. Regular self-examination or examination by a doctor is advisable if you notice anything unusual.

Early detection and treatment greatly improve the prognosis for most diseases, including cancer. Alongside regular health screenings, it’s vital to be aware of your family’s cancer history and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in Men

The World Health Organization reports that over 700,000 people die by suicide each year, equating to one person every 40 seconds. This alarming statistic is exacerbated by the fact that the global suicide rate among men is more than double that of women. In Malaysia, an estimated 4.2 million Malaysians suffer from mental health issues, with numbers on the rise. Unfortunately, mental health issues are often kept hidden due to fear of societal discrimination. Men should break the silence when facing mental health problems. Openly discussing our ailments helps destigmatize the conversation and raise awareness among men dealing with similar issues.

 

So, gentlemen, it’s time to step up and take control of your health.

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