June is Men’s Health Month, said Janette Wheat, Ph.D, at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

The month observance is important because men in the United States on average now die five years earlier than women and die at higher rates from nine of the top leading causes of death, according to a 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

“During Men’s Health Month, encourage men to take control of their health and families to teach young boys healthy habits,” said Wheat, Cooperative Extension Program specialist and professor of human development and family studies at UAPB.

The leading causes of death among men are heart disease, cancer and accidental death, according to the CDC.

Wheat encourages women to talk to the men in their lives about making an appointment for a checkup – this could include a father, brother, husband, son or friend. They can cook healthy meals and take walks with them, according to a news release.

On Sunday, June 14, they can participate in Wear BLUE Day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) designated this as a day to remind men and women of the importance of male health and encourage men to live longer and healthier lives and get regular checkups.

Men’s Health Month has been observed since 1994. Its purpose is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

Men can do their part to help reduce the gap in life spans between men and women by knowing their preventable risks, creating healthful habits, scheduling routine tests for early detection of diseases and documenting their family history and then sharing it with their physicians. Diet and exercise are also part of any approach to improving overall health.

With the leading causes of men’s death being heart disease, cancer and accidental death, minority populations are particularly vulnerable, according to the release.

African-American men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 60 percent more likely to die from strokes than are non-Hispanic white men, according to the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at HHS.

AIDS is nearly seven times more prevalent in African-American men than in white men. HIV is one of the top 10 killers of African-American men. Latino men also have HIV-related death rates much higher than white men, according to the release.

The prevalence of diabetes is significantly higher too. The CDC reports that Hispanic men are twice as likely to die of diabetes as white men, and African-American men are twice as likely to need treatment for severe kidney disease related to diabetes. Lung and prostate cancers are responsible for many cancer deaths in men. The rates of prostate cancer and related deaths in African-American men are among the highest in the world, Wheat said.

One factor contributing to the disparity is that minority men are less likely to get preventive care and to have access to quality health care when they get sick.

Another risk to young men of color is violence. Homicide is the main killer of African-American men 15 to 34 years old. African-American males are 53 times more likely to be murdered than are white males, according to the HHS.

Wheat suggests taking June to improve men’s, particularly minority men’s, access to quality care and their attitudes toward preventive health care to improve their health outcomes.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.