We 26-year-old dudes do not like to hear about how all the crazy stuff we do will kill us, mostly because we’re too busy getting swole and fueling our invincibility complexes to care.
But here’s the deal, fellow gym rats: Compared with American women, men are 1.3 times more likely to have cancer, twice as likely to have liver disease, and almost three times as likely to contract HIV. Yet, American men—especially young American men—often ignore common health issues that disproportionately affect them.
And even while young American men don’t normally have to worry about pneumonia or osteoporosis like older men do, we do face problems like testicular cancer, drug problems, and suicide. In fact, so many more young Americans (particularly white Americans) are dying of drug overdoses nowadays that the U.S. death rate actually rose in 2015 for the first time in a decade.
So for #MensHealthWeek, we here at Men’s Fitness took a hard look at the five biggest causes of death that disproportionately affect young American men—in the age groups of 15–19, 20–24, and 25–34—and tried to figure out some surprisingly simple but valuable suggestions on how guys can take some steps to live longer and healthier. We consulted data from the Centers for Disease Control, and asked two experts:
- Dr. David Asp, Ed.D., a practicing psychologist at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, Minnesota, who has extensive experience helping young men deal with anger issues
- Dr. David B. Samadi, M.D., a prostate cancer surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital and North Shore-LIJ Hospital in New York City, an expert on men’s health issues, and frequent medical contributor for FOX News.
Here, the five leading causes of death among young men in America, and how to keep them at bay:
5. Heart Disease (2.8%-7%)
Heart disease is the fifth most common killer in men 15–24, and the fourth most common killer of men 25–34. But it’s the biggest killer of American men overall, and that means young guys need to start laying the groundwork with—duh—a healthy diet, workout routine, and a tobacco-free life. (Smoking is a major factor for heart disease, Samadi says.)
A good way to prevent heart disease is simply to get tested. “I’d tell the young men out there to get baseline testing for cholesterol and blood pressure,” Samadi says.
Oh, and in case you needed some more incentives to fight off heart disease: “The first sign of heart disease and heart attack in a young man is sexual dysfunction,” Samadi says. “When you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, that restricts the blood flow to your penis. The penis is almost like the thermometer of health.”