7 Ways Black Men Can Avoid Early Death

    Men generally have more car accidents than women, and men in their 50s and 60s are twice as likely as women to die in car wrecks. Unintentional injuries (of all kinds) are the top cause of death among men ages 40 to 44, the third main cause in men ages 45 to 64, and cause #8 in men 65-plus.

    Among middle-aged men, fatalities are more likely to result from falling asleep at the wheel, exceeding the speed limit, getting into an accident at an intersection or on weekends after midnight — all factors that don’t have a significant effect on the injury levels of middle-aged women, according to a 2007 Purdue University study on how age and gender affect driving. Men over age 45 have more accidents on snow and ice, too.

    Older men fare better than men under age 45 on dry roads, where younger drivers crash more (perhaps due to overconfidence, the Purdue researchers say).

    Treat Depression ASAP

    Although women are three times more likely to attempt suicide than men, men are more successful at it, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In 2009, 79 percent of all suicides were men. Suicide rates for men spike after age 65; seven times more men over 65 commit suicide than their female peers.

    More than 60 percent of all those who die by suicide have major depression. If you include alcoholics, that number rises to 75 percent. In older adults, social isolation is another key contributing factor — which is why older suicides are often widowers.

    Men often equate depression with “sadness” or other emotions — and fail to realize that common warning signs of depression include fatigue or excessive sleep, agitation and restlessness, trouble concentrating, irritability, and changes in appetite or sleep.

    Depression is treatable at any age, and most cases are responsive to treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

    Stop Smoking

    Sure, you’ve heard about the horrific effects of smoking before. But the older you get, the worse they become. Older smokers have sustained greater lung damage over time because they tend to have been smoking longer; they also tend to be heavier smokers.

    Men over 65 who smoke are twice as likely to die of stroke. Smoking causes more than 90 percent of all cases of COPD — the fourth leading cause of death among men — and 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer. The risks of all kinds of lung disease rise with age. Smokers develop Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death, far more than nonsmokers.

    Older smokers are less likely than younger smokers to believe there’s a real health risk attached to cigarettes, says the American Lung Association. That means they’re less likely to try to quit.

    No matter at what age you quit, your risk of added heart damage is halved after one year. The risks of stroke, lung disease, and cancer also drop immediately.

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