(BlackDoctor.org) — Needless to say, it’s extremely important to know the state of health for African American men. If we were to look at a number of responses to the question “What is the current state of your health?” many would, unfortunately, give negative response.
This is due, in part, to the contemporary African American man’s life today.
Health is based on a number of factors, such as diet, genetics, lifestyle, and the environment. Most of the health concerns of African American people today are not genetic. It should be obvious, then, just where improvements need to take place for better health.
Paul W. is a 37-year-old African American accountant who was a star football player in high school and college — with a near perfect physique at that time.
Some years later…Paul works long hours, doesn’t eat breakfast, drinks at least three soft drinks per day, loves sweets and indulges in ice cream at bedtime. He smokes a pack of cigarettes per day, drinks occasionally, and doesn’t exercise. Both he and his wife eat their share of fast foods at home and at work – just about only vegetables he eats are the ones on his hamburgers, and fruits are rarely ever eaten.
Paul lost that near perfect physique years ago and is now overweight. He hasn’t seen a doctor in ten-years, and he lives down the street from an oil refinery.
Yes, Paul’s story is extremely disturbing – he’s doing too many of the wrong things, including his lack of exercise, minimal fruits and vegetables, excessive sweets, smoking and no recent doctor visit. His weight problem is due to his diet and lifestyle, and you probably know by now that being overweight or obese is associated with diabetes, heart disease, HBP, stroke, cancer and premature death. The fact that he lives near an oil refinery means he’s constantly being exposed to toxins commonly associated with various cancers.
If he doesn’t change his habits, Paul’s story will not have a happy ending.
Quick Health Facts
In 2005 African American (AA) men were 2.4 times as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men (WM). They also had a lower 5-year cancer survival rate for lung and pancreatic cancer.
AA men are twice as likely to develop diabetes as compared to WM.
AA men were 30% more likely to die from heart disease as compared to WM.
AA men had more than 7 times the AIDS rate and were 9 times as likely to die from HIV/AIDS as WM.
AA men are 60% more likely to die from a stroke than WM
Steps To Better Health
• Be physically-active, exercise daily and make healthy food choices
• Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily 4
• Get a healthy weight and stay there
• Be tobacco-free
• If you drink alcohol have no more than two drinks per day
• Have your blood pressure checked at least yearly
• Talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screening, PSA test and digital rectal examination (DRE).
• Talk to your doctor about HIV screening
• Know what toxins are in your community there’s a connection with cancer and other diseases from paper mills, refineries and factories. 7
Simply put, the state of health for Black men is complex. There are some in great health, there are some with good health…but there too many with inadequate health. It’s imperative that all Black men challenge themselves to attain a higher level of health.
What’s your story?
By Dr. Leonard Weather, Jr., NMA President
Dr. Leonard Weather is currently the president of the NMA, as well as a gynecologist, specializing in infertility, fibroids, pelvic pain and endometriosis. Dr. Weather is a health educator, ordained minister, painter and photographer. He is the publisher of the Dr. Weather Report, a monthly healthcare eNewsletter and he has authored three inspirational poetry books and an infertility handbook.
For More Information About Health & Black Men
1. The Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has a web site for men on staying healthy. Go to http://www.ahrq.gov/healthymen/.
2. The 100 Black Men of America, Inc. acts to improve the quality of life within our communities and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African Americans. Their health and wellness programs may be accessed at http://www.100blackmen.org.
3. Centers for Disease Control- Men’s Health, contains quality information on men’s health go to http://www.cdc.gov/men/
4. Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have partnered to address diet-related diseases affecting African-American Men, 9 A Day today, go to http://www.9aday.cancer.gov.
5. Nutrition for Everyone: Nutrition Basics from
DHHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers basic nutrition concepts to help you sort through nutrition research and dietary advice. The information can be obtained at http://www.nutrition.gov/.
6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a wealth of information about healthy eating. Information may be obtained at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/portion_size.html.
7. The agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) map allows one to find out the toxic waste sites in your community go to http://gis.cdc.gov/ncehatsdrwebmaps/main2.aspx.