Eat Well to Be Well: Dr. Samadi challenges women to take a role in men’s health

Men, when was the last time you’ve had your PSA test done? PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, which is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test is simply a matter of getting a blood sample to measure the level of PSA in a man’s blood and it is recommended to get a baseline PSA at age 40.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month and Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, has a Samadi Challenge for all women to encourage the men in their lives to have their PSA levels checked.

“Helping men live longer healthier lives is my passion. Through the years I have realized that if you want to get something done ask a woman to do it,” Dr. Samadi said. “It was with that frame of thought that I launched the Samadi Challenge for Prostate Cancer. By educating women on the importance of having the men in their lives get tested, taking preventative measures such as with their diet, and being open to discussing treatment options if necessary, I believe we can really make an impact on men’s health.”

The prostate is a small gland about the size and shape of a walnut lying below the bladder in front of the rectum. It is wrapped around the urethra which is a tube that carries urine and semen through the penis and out the body. The purpose of the prostate gland is to make prostatic fluid that is mixed with sperm from the testicles along with secretions from the seminal vesicles during ejaculation.

The PSA test is meant to help monitor the blood level of PSA so as to keep track of any enlargement of the gland that often occurs as a man ages. Enlargement of the prostate or having an elevated PSA does not automatically mean prostate cancer or that even a biopsy is necessary, and likewise not every biopsy done automatically means having to have surgery or radiation. Many men will have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), meaning it is not cancerous nor does it raise the risk of prostate cancer. But knowing your PSA is a powerful thing and the woman in your life wants you to be armed with this power so you can take control of your health destiny.

As Dr. Samadi advises us, “Prostate cancer affects 1 in 7 men throughout their lifetime and is treatable if caught early.”

A man has a higher death rate for all top 10 leading causes of death. When it comes to cancer, a woman’s lifetime risk is one in three while a man’s risk is one in two. As of 2012, the life expectancy for women is 81.2 years and for men, it’s 76.4 years – a difference of 4.8 years between the sexes. A difference of over four and a half years may not seem a lot, but a lot of life can happen during that time, life you don’t want to miss out on – nor does she want you to miss it either.

Have you ever wondered why women have a longer life expectancy than men? Women have always been more likely to go to the doctor when not feeling well, but women are also better at taking steps to prevent health issues to begin with like going for their yearly gynecologic visit and mammogram. This is probably why we live longer than men. Practicing preventative health care is kind of in our DNA. Men, on the other hand, let’s just say they need a lot more prodding to get them to go. Men are really good at coming up with excuses and putting off visiting the doctor and as women who love men, we’ve heard it all: “I don’t have time,” “I’ll tough it out,” “It’s a waste of money,” “I feel fine, there’s nothing wrong with me,” or “What I don’t know can’t hurt me,” also known as ignorance is bliss.

Look, as women we want you to know we get it and we understand. Sitting around in a doctor’s office is not your idea of a good time. Men are raised differently than women. As boys, you’re trained to be tough, shrugging off pain, and to just keep on playing through. Seeking help is seen as a weakness and sickness is viewed as being vulnerable. There’s a fear that if you do go to the doctor and something wrong is found, your sense of masculinity will change with a corresponding feeling of shame and remorse. Those are all understandable reasons for not getting yearly checkups, but not acceptable.

You see, because we love you, we need you, as in being around for years and years to come. We love your strength, pride, sense of responsibility and wanting to be in control, all extremely admirable qualities men possess. We need you to be around not just for us but for other family members who love and need you – your children, grandchildren, parents and even friends who applaud your sense of family duty and for all that you provide for us.

That’s why getting a yearly PSA test starting at age 40 should simply be seen as a preventative health care intervention. Having the knowledge of your PSA level is power – it’s a way of being in the driver’s seat, in charge and in control. Men who put off getting a PSA or have one done infrequently, will not be in control and instead may have that nagging feeling of “what if.”

Speaking of nagging, all men know women are very good at this. You don’t like it but, when it comes to healthcare and no one is pushing you to see the doctor, it probably won’t happen until you absolutely have to. So women, keep up the nagging and reminding your man about getting his PSA checked.

One last thing and this is probably the most motivating factor for men to have their PSA checked – their sex life. If there’s one thing a man does not want to lose is intimacy with the woman he loves. Women don’t want to lose that either, so by having your PSA done regularly, you are showing that you care enough to maintain a healthy, loving and sexually satisfying relationship that needs to be nurtured throughout a lifetime.

Knowledge of your health and PSA is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign you’re informed, intelligent and tough enough to have the courage to face whatever the outcome may be. Don’t put off getting your PSA – it could save your life and as women, we want you around as long as possible.

Dr. Samadi sums it up best reminding us all, “The best way to get men to live healthier lives is to recruit an army of women to push them. I urge every woman to take the Samadi Challenge and get the men in their lives tested. It could save his life.”

Cheryl's-Headshot-2015-80x1Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and an adjunct professor at Allen Community College, Burlingame, and Butler County Community College, Council Grove; she teaches Basic Nutrition and Therapeutic Nutrition. She is also a certified health and wellness coach, and a consulting dietitian for the Cotton O’Neil Clinic in Osage City. She writes Eat Well to Be Well, a column about health and nutrition, and is a blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi at www.samadimd.com. Contact her at [email protected], visit her website www.eatwell2bewellrd.com, or like “Eat Well 2 Be Well” on Facebook.

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