The Dangerous Health Lie Men Tell Themselves

A man and his doctor sitting in the doctor's office, discussing a chart

Most men just don’t like to go to the doctor. Though this habit, all by itself, is hurting black men, there’s an even more dangerous thing they do: they lie about how healthy they are, and they ofte ignore symptoms that something isn’t quite right.

Especially when it comes to one particular disease….

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Four in 10 people with at least one risk factor for type 2 diabetes—including obesity or high blood pressure—think they have no risk at all, finds a new survey by the American Diabetes Association. Even worse: 80 percent say they’re in good or excellent health.

“We as human beings try to protect ourselves,” says diabetes educator Virginia Peragallo-Dittko, R.N., who was involved in the research. “We say, ‘I don’t have it that bad. I’m not that overweight.’ ”

But in this case, denial can hurt you. Especially since those who don’t admit they have a problem aren’t inclined to take the steps to fix it, Peragallo-Dittko says. That explains why 40 percent of at-risk people don’t eat healthier foods, and 65 percent don’t exercise regularly.

So, what can you do? Go to the doctor, find out your health numbers, including your blood pressure and your cholesterol level, and ask what you need to do to stay healthy.

The Surprising Health Risk For Black Men Raised By Single Parents

A young boy playing with a toy airplane on his father's shoulders

Over the weekend, in an episode of Iyanla Vanzant’s show, Fix My Life, on the OWN network, Iyanla had a number of men on her show who fathered multiple children by multiple women. Iyanla, one-by-one, urged the fathers to confront their inner demons and issues.  In other clips of this series, Iyanla also confronted the women who were a part of these multiple-child relationships.

An excerpt of the show is below:

At one point in the show Iyanla said that there were 50 men, with a total of 87 children by multiple women. With the exception of a few, many of those children have been growing up with a steady father’s presence in their lives. This can lead to a number of issues for their daughters, not to mention their sons repeating the same cycle of behavior. In fact, during the episode, a majority of the men did not have a long-term healthy relationship with their biological father.  And this not only affects the mental health, but also their physical health.

Research from a long-term Howard University Family Study reveals that black men raised in single-parent households could have higher blood pressure as adults than those who grew up in two-parent homes.

The study, which examined data from 515 men participating in the HUFS and the first of its kind to link the living arrangements of children to adult pressure in black men, found:

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Men who lived with both parents during one or more years of their childhoods had 4.4 mm Hg lower systolic (top number) blood pressure than those raised entirely in single-parent homes.

Black children who live with their mothers alone are three times more likely to be poor, and those who live with fathers or a non-parent are twice as likely to be poor.

A critical period during childhood (ages 1 to 12) and a potential mechanism through which the early life socio-familial factor operates may influence adult blood pressure.

This is the first study to link childhood family living arrangements with blood pressure in black men in the United States, who tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure than American men of other races. The findings suggest that programs to promote family stability during childhood might have a long-lasting effect on the risk of high blood pressure in these men.

Although the study found an association between a single-parent upbringing and a higher risk for high blood pressure, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.