Impotence | Testicular cancer | Colon cancer | Enlarged prostate | Skin cancer | STDs | Kidney stones


A Recipe for Impotence: A Burger and TV.

You think I'm exaggerating? Well, maybe a little.

It does take more than one burger and one sitcom to deprive you of your manhood. But the same bad habits that drive up your cholesterol and clog your arteries—a high-fat diet and inactivity—can stifle erections.

Think of the penis as the fleshy equivalent of a automobile tire—one that fills with blood rather than air. When it's time for an erection, blood flow into the penis increases by as much as eight times, and flow out drops dramatically. Blood backs up and . . . presto, an erection—unless not enough blood can get in or too much gets out.

What stops blood from getting into the penis? Atherosclerosis—the hardening and plugging of arteries that leads to heart attacks, stroke and other circulatory diseases. And, because the penis is usually smaller than the heart, its blood vessels are more easily plugged.

In fact, loss of erections is often the first clear sign of a more-serious illness. Studies at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that 25 percent of men who seek help for a potency problem have a heart attack or stroke within five years.

What stops blood from staying in the penis? Within the last couple of years, researchers have at the University of California, San Francisco, have figured out that spongy tissue in the penis actually breaks down, becoming permanently incapable of storing blood and expanding the penis. They believe that lifestyle has much to do with this breakdown.

How do you protect your penile circulatory system from unnecessary damage so you keep on enjoying nature's gift? It a simple and energizing prescription.

Just reduce your intake of fat by not eating red meat and fried foods very often, by using reduced-fat dairy products and by making it a point to fill up on whole grains and vegetables.

Exercise, too, is easy and beneficial. All it takes is 30 minutes of moderate activity (brisk walking, for example) three times per week to enjoy most of the benefits of fitness.

Try it. You'll feel better, and you'll live and love longer. In health.

Testicular cancer
All men should perform monthly self-testicular examinations just as women do monthly self-breast examinations. The optimal time to perform the examination is while taking a warm shower. Both hands should be used to examine each testicle with the thumbs in front and the first two fingers behind the testicle. The testicle should be rolled between the fingers and thumb, feeling for any lumps or bumps.

The testicle normally feels like a hard-boiled egg without the shell. If lumps or bumps are discovered, a physician, preferably a urologist, should be consulted at once. The best chance of prevention is early detection and treatment.

Colon cancer: flexible sigmoidoscopy
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is the visual examination of the lining of the rectum and a portion of the colon using a lighted, flexible, fiberoptic tube that's about the thickness of your finger. This remarkable piece of equipment can be directed and moved around the bends in the lower colon and rectum.

The fear of the unknown keeps many men from having a flexible sigmoidoscopy. Yet this simple, outpatient exam takes only ten minutes and provides the physician with a great deal of useful information. The exam is performed while lying on your side, in a comfortable position. The procedure should be painless, although you may feel slight pressure or a bloating sensation.

Enlarged prostate
All men over the age of 40 should have a rectal examination once a year to screen for prostate cancer. There is now a new blood test called PSA recommended for all men over the age of 50 with at least a life expectancy of 10 years, and all men over the age of 40 who are at high risk including African-American, and those who have a family history of prostate cancer. The PSA can be elevated with enlargement, infection, or cancer.

Skin cancer
There's more to avoiding skin cancer than a tube of sunscreen.

It would be hard to have missed the fact that exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. The numbers have been well publicized: 732,000 new cases per year, 9,000 deaths per year, new cases increasing at a rate of 100,000 every two years. But there's still quite a bit you might not know about skin cancer:

  • Men are inherently at greater risk. Because they more commonly work outdoors, men, on average, have greater lifetime exposure to sunlight.
  • Everyone, regardless of skin color, is at risk. Although fair-skinned, blue-eyed people are more than 10 times as likely to get skin cancer as black people are, it does happen.
  • Sunscreen may not be enough. Although regular application of sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15 protects against many types of skin cancer, it may not, alone, offer adequate protection against the most deadly type, malignant melanoma. Tightly woven clothing and a broad-brimmed hat complete the protection scheme.
  • Skin cancer doesn't necessarily occur on sun-exposed skin. Unlike other skin cancers—which are most common on the head, neck, shoulders, hands and, feet—melanoma is most common in men between the shoulders and hips. (Women are most likely to get melanoma on the lower legs or trunk.) Melanoma does occur on the head and neck, but even areas such as the buttocks and genitals can develop it.
  • Tanning parlors are not safer than sunlight. Both types of ultraviolet radiation—UVB, which causes tanning, and UVA, which penetrates deeply into the skin—appear to be involved in producing skin cancers.
  • Melanoma runs in families. Having two or more relatives with melanoma puts you at greater risk.
  • Most melanoma can be cured if detected early enough. About 83 percent of people whose melanomas are detected early survive at least five years. Survival for advanced cases drops to 10 percent.
  • Detecting melanoma is as easy as ABCD. Melanoma develops from moles. Once a month, examine moles on your entire body carefully for the following: Asymmetry—the shape of one side of the mole doesn't match the other. Border irregularities—the edges are not smooth. Color nonuniformity—brown or black is normal. Diameter—no larger than a pencil eraser. Any of these signs are cause for a visit to the doctor.

And listen guys, self-exams don't have to be boring. Ask your partner to inspect your skin and offer to return the favor. Make it fun, and it may lead to even more fun.

Early detection is critical. Skin self-exams should be performed once a month—make it fun by including your partner so you can examine each other. Should you find a suspicious lesion, have it evaluated by a physician as soon as possible.

Sexually transmitted diseases

  1. Limit your number of sexual partners.
  2. Avoid sex with people you don't know well or people who have multiple partners.
  3. Always use condom and spermacide, regardless of the need for contraception.
  4. Avoid sex with people who are being treated for a sexual disease.
  5. Avoid sexual contact with anyone who has visible lesions on the genitalia.
  6. If you are infected with an STD, refrain from sexual activity until treatment has completed.

Kidney stones

  • Drink lots of water. It dilutes your urine, reducing the likelihood of a crystal forming.
  • Avoid excessive calcium in your diet. You need calcium, but too many dairy products or antacids containing calcium can increase your risk of getting stones. Calcium is found in milk, cheese, dairy products, and certain vegetables like broccoli.
  • Get regular exercise. Being active helps send calcium where it belongs: into your bones.
  • Eat foods containing lots of vitamin A. Orange fruits and vegetables and broccoli help keep your urinary tract in good shape.
  • Don't eat too much protein. Most Americans get more than they need, and there is a direct association between kidney disease and excess protein.

Should you develop kidney stones, your doctor can suggest some other dietary approaches that will reduce the chances that they'll trouble you again. Still, once you've had one, your chances of getting another are fairly high.


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