Here are five health tests every Black man needs:
Prostate Cancer Screening
According to the Journal of Urology, Black men have the highest rate of prostate cancer and are less likely to survive this disease compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. Black men are twice as likely to die versus their white counterparts. But, prostate cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence. You can have access to an early diagnosis through PSA screening, which can help you lower your risk of prostate cancer and decline your chances of losing your life to this disease.
Since the risk is higher for Black men, prostate cancer screening is something that should be done sooner versus later. According to Dr. Fleming of Virginia Oncology Associates informed providers must know that Black men should begin screening at age 40 for early detection.
According to a NAACP healthcare fact sheet, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Black Americans. While we are only 13 percent of the population, we are twice as likely to die from heart disease.
Black men are at a higher risk (30 percent more) of dying from heart disease versus non-Hispanic white males. Since men on average die 10 years younger than women, it’s important to take heart tests so you can know your risk factors.
One way to do so is by taking your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is 115 over 70. If your blood pressure is more than 130 over 80, this is a red flag that something is wrong. You can take this test at home.
Home readings are often considered more reliable. The second test you should take is for cholesterol levels. This test will factor in your blood fats and blood sugar and determine your good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol as well as triglycerides.
You can also perform a tape measure test. This test can be a higher indicator of your risk than what may come up when you weigh yourself on a scale. If you are 40 inches or more around your waist, this is a risk factor for heart disease. Starting your heart tests at age 18 is important because this is the leading cause of death for young men other than auto accidents and being shot.
Diabetes and Hypertension
The statistics are staggering around diabetes and hypertension. Nearly 15 percent of Black Americans 20 years or older have diabetes, and we are 1.5 times more likely to contract diabetes versus whites. Forty-two percent of Black men suffer from hypertension according to the CDC, and since 36 percent of Black men are obese, this increases your risk for both diseases.
Make sure you have your body mass index (BMI) measured based on your height and weight to determine obesity. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, if your BMI is between 18.5 and 25, this is considered normal. If you are a smoker, don’t exercise and have a BMI over 30, this places you at higher risk for diabetes and hypertension.
If your blood pressure is greater than 135 over 80, this could also be a sign of diabetes. Tests for diabetes may include a hemoglobin A1C blood test, a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). If you take a single test, this can be sufficient in diagnosing diabetes. However, a second test is also conducted to confirm your glucose levels are abnormal.
You should always be aware of any abnormalities relating to your testicles. Testicular cancer usually affects men between the ages of 15 and 40.
Having this test performed by your physician and also knowing how to perform it on yourself is critical to you noticing any changes in symptoms. While the risk of testicular cancer is small after 40, the risk of prostate cancer increases after the age of 50.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death of cancer in the U.S. for both men and women according to the American Cancer Society. Make sure when you hit 40 years of age you are screened for colorectal (colon) cancer.
Your doctor may have you tested earlier if it runs in your family. This painless procedure only takes 15 to 20 minutes. But, this test can be a critical one in detecting colon cancer early when it is treatable. This screening allows your doctor to find and remove precancerous growths before they become malignant.
Being smart and proactive about your health care can save your life. Taking proper precautions and receiving the right health screenings will place you on the path to living a healthier and longer life. Don’t delay doing what’s needed to keep you at your best!