By Parveen Attai, MPH, Public Health Fellow
Courtesy of the Erie County Department of Health
June is Men’s Health Month, and the Erie County Department of Health is promoting the U.S. Office of Minority Health’s (OMH) theme of “Better Health Through Better Understanding.” This campaign is intended to encourage boys and men to utilize quality health care services, information and resources to take charge of their overall health.
Show your support for men’s health by wearing blue on Friday, June 16, and using #ShowUsYourBlue on social media.
“There are stark contrasts related to men’s health. U.S. men are expected to live about six years less than women. The life expectancy is even less for Black and American/Indian/Alaska Native men,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “It is important to understand key statistics on men’s health because it drives our health and lifestyle decision-making. The goal is for men to achieve better health through informed choices.”
With the summer season right around the corner, men should be mindful of their outdoor behaviors. Consider group-setting physical activity opportunities if you are finding it difficult to get motivated on your own. Do not operate watercraft vessels while impaired or intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and water-resistant, and reapply every two hours when outdoors.
Many health problems that disproportionately impact men, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, can be prevented by leading a preventive lifestyle. This means staying on top of prostate, colorectal and skin cancer screenings. Be aware of your family’s health history and see your health care provider regularly to have important conversations about topics that concern you. Limit your alcohol consumption and eat a healthy diet to reduce your risk of long-term health problems. Visit myplate.gov to create a food plan based on your age, sex, height, weight and physical activity level.
For men who regularly use commercial tobacco and/or vape products, quitting is the very best thing they can do to improve their health.
“We know men in New York state smoke at higher rates compared to women (14.2% versus 10.1%),” said Tony Astran, public information specialist for the New York State Smokers' Quitline. “We encourage everyone – especially men – to contact the Quitline for support and free resources, including individualized coaching assistance and medications. We’re available seven days a week by calling 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), texting 333888 to QUITNOW, or visiting nysmokefree.com.”
Take advantage of resources in Erie County on your path toward better health. Call 2-1-1 WNY for health and substance use disorder services. Contact Erie County’s cancer services program at 716-858-7376 for information on cancer screening and support. Independent Health and the YMCA are offering free outdoor fitness classes across Western New York through Aug. 31. Registration is not required, and the classes are open to all ages and skill levels.