Men's Health

Reporter: Graeme Butler

The report card on men's health is in and it's not good news - just being a man can make you sick - or at least increase the risk significantly. Steve Wilson says "are blokes just bad at being good - I think they are to a fair degree, women seek health care much more commonly in the first 4 to 5 decades of life by the pill or pregnancy for a whole host of reasons men tend to stay away" Dr Steve Wilson from the AMA says men are their own worst enemy when it comes to their health - they ignore warning signs, are reluctant to seek help and have lifestyles that leave a lot to be desired. "Including drinking too much, smoking too much, obesity issues etc a lack of physical activity which of course affects both genders but I think in my experience women are more likely to come and seek advice at that"

"I thought he'd say oh you've got a cold or something I didn't realise how drastic it was to be completely honest" John King is pretty typical of men his age - unfit - overweight and rarely goes to the doctor - that was until he discovered his lifestyle had led to diabetes - it was serious. "When he came down off the ceiling telling me off for over weight and bad lifestyle he started telling me what I should be doing" That including diet and exercise - john started walking and for the first time in his life having a serious look at the food he ate. "I was 107 kilos then compared to 93 now eating a lot of the wrong foods fatty foods things like that weren't doing any real serious exercise not that it's serious now but we walk 40 minutes a day" and that's not bad - health experts have been begging us to do just 30 minutes a day - that's all it takes to have dramatic effects on long term health.

Terry Slevin from the cancer council says men are at much higher risk of cancer related illness than women - "we drink more than women we get sunburnt more than women albeit there's good news on tobacco in that the trends are coming down for men and women , men are still slightly higher than women when in comes to smoking rates in terms of being overweight and obese 73% of men aged 55 - 64 are overweight or obese" The gap between men and women shows men continue to be more at risk of cancer - the good news is there's a lot of things that men can do to lesson the risks.

* stop smoking

* exercise every day

* lose weight ( if you're carrying extra kilos )

* eat healthier foods (including plenty of fruit and vegetables)

* be sun smart

* avoid alcohol ( or have alcohol free days)

* visit your doctor ( regularly )

"There's a lot of resistance we can all find 5 reasons why we can't do something I often say just give me one good reason why you can I think it's about making your health important making yourself important" Terry says "I think at the end of the day blokes tend to be driven by a psyche that says we've got to be tough we've got to put up with things we've got to take the burden on ourselves and we're paying a high prices for that" It's a tough battle for experts to convince men to change their lifestyles but they say it's never too late.

Steven says "for the majority of us we can get away with a fair amount of self neglect or self abuse probably til we're in about our mid 30's and after that then our mortality is going to start catching up with us one take home message for men is what you do between about your early to mid thirties and probably 50 / 55 will set the scene for the rest of your life" Terry says "the older we get the greatest risk of cancer but in terms of prevention everybody has to start today because today's the day you're making choices that will affect the rest of your life, it's certainly not going to do them no harm it's just a visit to the doctor an hour out of your life it might save your life"