MyGameChangers’ blog is dedicated to improving the lives of adults by providing nutritional information and support and helping to develop the skills necessary to promote positive lifestyle changes. We offer advice on this blog. A lot of good advice.
The lives people live can affect their health and lifespan, especially true for African American men. For these men, sickness and death are most often due to the “deadly quartet”:
Sickness and death from the “deadly quartet” can be prevented or be significantly reduced by early detection. So here are some practical tips to help you live healthier.
- Be in situations that are “violence free”
- Avoid circumstances likely to be violent
- Learn healthy ways to express feelings like anger
- Understand that guns and poverty equal death
- Recognize actions or words that “trigger” anger
- Be an active listener to try and understand what the other person is saying
- Brainstorm all ideas that might help resolve an argument, not just fighting
- Teach your children how to handle conflict, so they can manage it better as adults
- Seek professional help if you can’t work it out.
- Abstinence is the only sure way to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. Do not have sexual intercourse with people known to have AIDS, multiple partners or people who use IV drugs
- Know your partner!
- Avoid drinking alcohol and using drugs that may impair your judgment and the ability to make appropriate choices about sex
- If you do have sex, ALWAYS use a latex condom
- Get the HIV blood test if you suspect you could have the disease
- Do not use IV drugs. If IV drugs are used, do not share needles or syringes.
- Set a quit date and choose a quit plan
- Spend time with friends who don’t smoke
- Avoid people and places where you are tempted to smoke
- Begin regular exercise you enjoy
- Drink lots of water and juices. Reduce or avoid alcohol
- Talk with your doctor about classes or nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum or nasal spray) to help you stop smoking
- Talk to your doctor about hypnosis or acupuncture to help you stop smoking
- Tell friends and family of your plans to quit
- Don’t get discouraged. It may take several tries before you are successful.
- Reward yourself for each successful milestone: day, week, month. Buy yourself something with the money you saved by not buying cigarettes, or work on a hobby, or call a friend long distance.
Prevent/detect Prostate cancer
- See your doctor regularly
- Ask about two screening tests: PSA blood test & digital rectal exam
- Eat a healthful diet that is low in fat and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
“Every small positive change we can make in ourselves, repays us with confidence in the future.”–Alice Walker
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, African Americans make up about 12.9% of the U.S. population, or 36.4 million individuals.
Even though we comprise a relatively small percentage of the population, as a minority group African Americans often suffer a greater percentage of incidence of many of the leading health conditions in the United States. Why is this? One potential answer to that question is health disparities.
According to the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities a division of the National Institutes of Health, the concept of health disparities is defined as differences in the occurrence, death rate, and burden of health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.
Let’s face it. Americans of all races tend to eat more and are less active than their ancestors, which, is contributing to the obesity epidemic in the US. Recent statistics show that up to 66% of the US population is overweight or obese. These weight trends are even more pronounced among African Americans with 60% of African American men and 78% of African American women identified as overweight. In addition, 28.8% of men and 50.8% of African American women are considered obese.
Now for some good news. Eating a nutritious, low fat diet and participating in regular exercise are the best steps anyone can take toward preventing and treating obesity. Low fat eating habits and regular physical activity not only aid in weight reduction, but can also reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. Reducing weight by just 5-10% may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. If you take medication for these conditions, you may require less once you’ve lost weight. This will help reduce side effects from medication, as well as medical costs.
For some African Americans, a family tradition of soul food may pose a problem for today’s less active lifestyle. Soul foods traditionally depend on fat, sugar and sodium for their flavor. By modifying recipes and decreasing portion sizes, African Americans may reduce their weight and the chronic diseases that accompany it.
Many studies have shown that, in general, African Americans:
- Accept larger body sizes
- Feel less guilt about over-eating
- Are less likely to practice unhealthy dieting behaviors, such as over-exercising or purging
Although African Americans have a healthy acceptance of a wider range of body sizes, their tolerance may lead to more obesity and serious obesity-related health problems. To evaluate your weight, compare it to a body mass index (BMI) table. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for chronic diseases. Just losing a little weight can make a big difference.
Many families do not make nutrition a top priority, and children are suffering increasing obesity rates. In addition, the rate of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure is on the rise in this population. “Overweight” is defined as body mass index (BMI) at or above the sex- and age-specific 95th percentile cutoff points calculated by the National Health Examination Survey (NHES).
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health Examination Statistics. Unpublished data, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm.
Some people may inherit genes that enable them to eat more than others without gaining weight. Unfortunately, this is only a small percent of our population. On the other hand, many people inherit genes that make it difficult for them to lose weight. For most Americans, eating less and increasing physical activity is the best method for maintaining a healthy weight and good health.
Although the exact causes for different cancers are not known, most studies show a connection between diet and certain types of cancer. A high fat diet has been linked to colon, breast and prostate cancer. Consuming a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is beneficial in preventing many types of cancer.
Prostate Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer for men in the United States. Prostate cancer hits African American men especially hard.
In a 2000 study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, African American men were found to be at nearly twice the risk of prostate cancer compared with white men, even after adjustment for a number of known and suspected prostate cancer risk factors.1, African American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the US. 2 In addition, a 2000 Roper Starch survey showed that African American men are significantly more likely than white men to experience side effects from prostate cancer treatment, including incontinence. They are also more likely than white men to be dissatisfied with their doctor’s support.
Researchers are trying to determine why the African American community suffers more prostate cancer. Some possibilities include:
- Environmental and nutritional factors may play an important role. Blacks in Africa do not have the same high rate of prostate cancer and mortality as blacks in the United States. A genetic difference and lower levels of vitamin D may contribute to the higher rates of prostate cancer in African American men. 1
- Less access to health care, including lack of insurance, may mean that African American men don?t always get the preventive care they need.
- Distrust or negative attitudes towards screening tests and health care may mean that prostate cancer is diagnosed when it is more advanced in African American men.
If you are an African American man, age 45 or above, the American Cancer Society recommends that you should have a prostate cancer screening test yearly. Prostate cancer screening can include a Prostate Specific Antigen blood test or “PSA” and a Digital Rectal Exam or “DRE.” For the DRE, your doctor will feel for any unusual growths on, or around, the prostate.
If you have prostate cancer in your family, you are at even greater risk of developing prostate cancer yourself. Talk to your family to find out if any of your relatives have had prostate cancer. Then talk to your doctor about your family history. If prostate cancer is caught early, your chances for living a normal life are good.
Your health depends on you, so:
- Get regular check-ups, including prostate cancer screening. These simple tests can save your life.
- Eat a healthful diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.
- Stay current with the latest studies. For example, the American Cancer Society has reported on the possible role of lycopene in prostate cancer growth.