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May 29, 2012 > Men's Health: Going to the Doctor Means Staying Healthy

Men's Health: Going to the Doctor Means Staying Healthy

Make the Appointment Today, Don't Let Excuses Get in the Way

When it comes to men's health, there are a lot of issues to keep track of. The good news is that your primary care physician can help.

Dr. Steven A. Curran, a board-certified family medicine physician with Washington Township Medical Foundation who practices at Warm Springs Clinic, says the first step to better health is a simple one: go to the doctor.

"Call it a guy thing, but we all know men are less likely to visit the doctor for worrisome symptoms, and are more likely to put off routine check-ups," he says.

This puts men at a disadvantage, he points out, particularly because they often are not seeing the doctor for annual exams or screenings. The question is: what does a routine doctor's office visit offer? Well, first off, it's a chance to talk to the doctor about your family history and make sure that you're getting screened for preventable and treatable conditions.

"In addition to routine screens for diabetes, heart disease, and a review of immunizations, men should usually consider colon cancer and prostate cancer screens around age 50, or even sooner if a family history of these diseases is present," Dr. Curran explains.

When it comes to the No. 1 killer in the United States - heart disease - Dr. Curran says there is still a lot of work to be done, and he adds that it's a good idea to make sure to take a look at all of your risk factors, including ones that are on the rise.

"We still have a long way to go before eliminating heart disease," he says. "Even though we are making progress, especially in the treatment of hypertension and high cholesterol, trends like increasing obesity and diabetes threaten to reverse progress in the overall number of deaths from cardiovascular disease."

Sometimes, according to Dr. Curran, to improve overall health, the best prescription is not a pill at all.

"We know without a doubt that obesity is a factor in diabetes, and therefore heart disease," he says. "Even some types of cancer have been strongly linked with obesity. It is clear that diet, exercise and weight loss could help prevent more disease than any medication!"

In fact, people diagnosed with pre-diabetes - those on the path to diabetes whose blood sugar levels haven't crossed the threshold into full-blown diabetes yet - can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing just 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight and exercising regularly, according to a 2002 clinical study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

An advantage of going to the doctor regularly for routine check-ups, according to Dr. Curran, is that you're much more likely to catch risk factors for diseases like diabetes and heart disease before they progress to the point where you need medication to manage them.

The biggest challenge for men when it comes to better health, Dr. Curran says, can be their own reluctance to make time for it.

"Men are very good at ignoring early warning symptoms. They say, 'It's not chest pain, its just indigestion,'" he says. "Men are fabulous at excuses. They'll say, 'I'm just too busy to go to the doctor,' or 'I don't really need anyone's help; I'll just tough it out!"

Dr. Curran's answer?

"It sounds kind of silly but the most important message I give to men sometimes is: 'You have my permission to take care of yourself.' Sure, family responsibilities, career, and all that is important, but if you don't take care of yourself, it doesn't really matter."

For men who haven't been to see the doctor in a while, Dr. Curran advises making an appointment to see where you stand and go from there.

Warm Springs Clinic is located at 46690 Mohave Drive in Fremont. To make an appointment, call (510) 248-1065. Hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and walk-ins are accepted.

Your health care, your way

For more information about Washington Township Medical Foundation and its more than 60 board-certified physicians with expertise in a broad range of medical specialties - from neurosurgery to pediatrics - visit www.mywtmf.com.

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