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The Men in Your Life

Eva Brams, a Manhattan social worker, had tried wifely persuasion to get her husband to stop smoking: She told him how much she loved him and how she was afraid cigarettes would snuff out his life. She noted how smoking. Is there anything I could do in exchange to get you to do this?” As a matter of fact, there was: Steven really hated the fact that she let newspapers pile up, covering every surface of their apartment. He wanted her to throw out each paper by the end of the day, whether she had finished reading it or not.

They made a pact. Steven has been nicotine free for almost 30 years — and the risk of both Men’s Health Network. The problem, he says, is that from childhood they’ve been socialized to deny pain, minimize health risks, and reject any suggestion that they are vulnerable or mortal.

Women: The Health Police

Ignorance of health risks, failing to see the doctor, and terrible health habits are major reasons why men live almost six years less than their wives and sisters. Women live on average 79.4 years, but men only make it to 73.6 years. Black men fare the worst, barely living long enough to collect Social Security. According to 1997 figures in the National Vital Statistics Report, they live an average of 67.2 years. Black women live to an average age of 74.7 years.

The major causes of death for men — heart disease, live longer than bachelors in part because they have women – the historic nurturers and health police — looking after them.

“The men I see who do the best are those who have partners who are motivated,” says Ken Goldberg, MD, a Dallas urologist and blood pressure under control. I read these stories about young men dying of Testicular cancer, usually found by a telltale lump, is the leading cancer killer of men in their 20s and 30s, but is cured in 90% of all cases after initial treatment.

Steer tech-heads to the Web to research the risks of obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. One warning, though: Don’t recommend the Web if your mate has a problem with marijuana or steroids. “Too many of the sites are promotional,” notes Brams.

You might also try raising his anxiety level: “Gee, honey, look at this: The typical impotent man is a heavy smoker over 40!” Or, “Did you read about that actor who died of alcoholism?” Addictions, incidentally, are some of the trickiest things to deal with, but gathering together everyone an addict cares about and trusts for an intervention can work well.

Figure out whose opinion counts the most to him. If he won’t listen to your rap that a colorectal cancer screening is the thing to do after age 50 (or earlier if colon cancer runs in his family), recruit one of his pals — or even one of the kids — to help convince him.

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