If you are a man under the age of 40, health can still be an issue, and sometimes it can be difficult to know where you stand. This is why there are health tests, five in fact, that you should complete to ensure you are in excellent health for your age. And don’t worry, they are relatively harmless, are not painful, and do not in any way resemble a prostate exam. So to help you know where your health ranks, and if you need to improve it, here are five health tests for men under 40.
Despite the chances of getting testicular cancer being low, it is still a good idea to check now and then. Testicular cancer only accounts for roughly one percent of all cancer, you do not want to be the one that could have prevented it by testing. The cancer is most common in men 15 to 35. Lance Armstrong is perhaps the most famous face of this type of cancer and he was initially diagnosed at 25. Armstrong is a prime example of why it is so vital to check for testicular cancer. Stephen Dahmer, MD, a well-known family physician says, “If you catch it early, the cure rate could be as high as 95%.” Your doctor can give you a screening, and you can give yourself monthly self checks, which are best done after a warm shower when the skin is soft. Use both hands, and gently roll each testicle with your thumbs and fingers. Feel for lumps, rounded bumps or any noticeable changes in size or shape. Check with the American Cancer Society for more tips.
Blood Pressure Test
According to the CDC, behind accidental injuries, heart disease is the leading killer of men under 40. “One of the biggest risk factors is untreated high blood pressure,” Dahmer says. “About one in three adults suffer from high blood pressure, and of those, one in five don’t know it,” he adds. Putting it off could lead to serious health issues like strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure. Your blood pressure numbers should be around 120/80. If you are teetering on 130/80 or higher, your doctor will be concerned, and will tell you how to improve, like cutting back on sodium, saturated fats, and alcohol in your diet.
Our body needs cholesterol to function, trouble is when you combine it with a high-fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Genetics can also factor in. “Bad cholesterol (LDL) can block arteries and decrease blood flow, which can result in stroke or a heart attack,” says Dahmer. All men over the age of 35 should get their cholesterol checked via a small blood sample. Start sooner, like age 20, if you suffer from diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or have a family history of this stuff. “Your total cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL with an LDL under 100 and HDL over 45,” he says. Two ways to improve your overall cholesterol is to add soluble fiber like oat bran, eggplant, barely, and beans to your diet, and also boost unsaturated fat in your diet like almonds.
Depression can be very serious and dangerous. It can lead to suicide, which is the fourth leading cause of death in males from 35 to 44, based on a 2008 CDC report. “More often men get caught up in their physical health and tend to sweep their mental health under the rug,” explains Dahmer. Having a good relationship with your doctor may save your life if you have a history of depression, or just feel depressed. Despression can be hard to talk about, but your doctor will be able to help you find sources of it like stress, and insomnia. A doctor can also refer you to a counselor for help. They may try treatment like cognitive behavior therapy. “If you’re depression is severe, you may also want to rule out bio-chemical reasons with a blood test,” Dahmer suggests.
Skin Cancer Test
All those times your mom told you not to leave the house without sunscreen will really pay off with this one. Men are 2 to 3 times more likely to get certain types of skin cancers compared to women. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and accounts for 48,000 deaths per year, globally. This type of skin cancer is on the rise in people from age 20 to 40. And this is why both the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology suggest regular skin self exams to look for changes in your skin including shape, color, and size of marks. You can download the SpotCheck app for free on iTunes, which lets you upload photos of your skin and a team of board-certified dermatologists will review them. Within 24 hours you will know whether you need to schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss further issues.