Men’s Health Myths

Just because you’ve heard it “all your life” doesn’t necessarily make it true. When it comes to men’s health, old wives’ tales have gone rampant—from beer bellies to baldness to fitness to erectile dysfunction. For the benefit of guys everywhere, here are 12 persistent men’s health myths—and the facts to debunk them.

12 Health Myths Men Believe…DEBUNKED!

By Mike Haskew

#1: Only Women Get Breast Cancer

Breast cancer does occur in men, but at a much lower rate than in women, who are more than 100 times as likely to be diagnosed than men. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 2,190 new cases of breast cancer in men are diagnosed annually in the U.S., and about 410 die from it. Major risk factors are the same for men and women: age, family history, and obesity.

#2: A PSA of 4 or Higher Means Prostate Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, most men with an elevated PSA (prostate specific antigen) level turn out not to have prostate cancer. However, it remains an indication that further evaluation may be needed. A PSA between 4 and 10 falls into a “diagnostic gray zone” and may indicate the need for biopsy or more complex testing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean prostate cancer.

#3: You get a beer belly from drinking too much beer.

Well, there is a grain (or more than 12 ounces) of truth in this one, but consider that eating or drinking too much of anything can lead to that spare tire. Blame it on the beer, sure, but remember consuming a whole box of Twinkies in one sitting will accomplish the same unsightly bulge, and combined with a couch potato lifestyle, can make you the proud owner of a beer belly in a short time.

#4: Wearing a hat or using a blow dryer can cause baldness.

Really? If I wear my ball cap with the visor to the rear will it help with my back hair? Sorry guys, there isn’t a follicle of evidence to support this one. Now, using a blow dryer might bring on split ends, but your barber or stylist can help with a remedy.

#5: If your workout doesn’t hurt, it’s not effective.

Word to the wise: don’t squat more weight than you know is safe, or there may be more to worry about than a few aches or pains. The idea of “no pain, no gain” may mean a heightened risk of injury. Talk to a trainer or doctor before beginning an intense exercise regimen, and be careful about working out to the point of pain.

#6: Men don’t have to be concerned about osteoporosis.

It isn’t just your grandma’s condition— men need calcium for strong bones just like women. According to The National Osteoporosis Foundation, up to one in four men over 50 will suffer from an osteoporosis-related fracture in their remaining lifetime. Look into a good vitamin and calcium supplement.

#7: Drinking more alcohol is a cure for hangovers.

A little “hair of the dog” is likely to make things worse, and come to think of it, the last time you hit your thumb with a hammer did you think the best cure was to whack that thumb a second time? Hangover symptoms come from dehydration, an inflammatory response from your immune system, low blood sugar, and gastric distress due to an irritated stomach. Chasing a hangover with more alcohol defies logic.

#8: Erectile Dysfunction is “All in Your Head.”

Okay guys, sit up straight and listen. No other male health issue has received so much media attention in recent years, and while erectile dysfunction has a psychological element, the problem is rarely confined to the brain. According to the Mayo Clinic, most cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by something physical, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use or alcohol use.

#9: Hair Loss Comes From Your Mother’s Side of The Family.

Not entirely true. The theory goes that baldness is inherited from the mother’s side, because of the androgen receptor gene (AR) on the X chromosome. But baldness can also be influenced by other genes, passed from either side of your family tree. So quit blaming mom. There is a chance that dad was the culprit.

#10: You Don’t Need to See A Doctor Unless You’re Sick.

Here is a warning that could save your life. Many medical conditions show no symptoms during their early stages, so annual checkups are essential to good health for men. If you visit your doctor regularly, an otherwise life threatening or debilitating condition may be nipped in the bud.

#11: The More Protein You Eat, The More Muscular You Can Become.

What a bunch of hooey. The body can only use a certain amount of protein daily. Once you have consumed your recommended daily allowance, an extra helping won’t do any good. Sure, protein is needed for muscle mass, but any excess is converted to fat or burned as energy.

#12: As Long As You’re Active, You Can Eat Whatever You Want And Not Worry About Weight Gain.

Forget about it. You can’t outwork a bad diet. It only takes a few minutes of zestful eating to undo a strenuous workout session. Watch what you eat. Get plenty of exercise. And don’t forget to call your mother.

So men, consider this information a public service announcement—it’s time to put to rest those rumors that lead to inaccurate conclusions. Pay attention to your health, and you’ll do yourself and those who care for you a favor.

Mike Haskew is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and holds a degree in history. He is a native Chattanoogan and is currently an executive with Community Trust & Banking Company.