It's National Men's Health Week

A peek at what specific health issues the fellas should be concerned about.

Posted: 06/11/2012 09:45 AM EDT

Here are a couple of questions for you: "How healthy are you? When's the last time you went to the doctor?"


We ask these questions because this week marks National Men's Health Week and BET.com wants to raise the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.


It is particularly important for African-American men to get themselves to the doctor because the current health statistics aren't all that encouraging.


— Black men live 5.4 years less than white men


— Black men are three times less likely to have routine medical checkups than Black women


— Black men have a higher rate of death from oral cancer than other racial groups


— Forty percent of Black men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease as compared to 22 percent of white men


— African-American men are five times more likely to die of AIDS


Suicide is the third cause of death among African-American males between ages 15 and 24, behind homicide and accidents. Also, suicide death rates among Black men are five times that of Black women.


It cannot be denied that there are some serious barriers to attaining good health: Lack of access to quality health care, Black men are more likely to have jobs that do not offer health insurance, and are more likely to be affected by systematic poverty and live in urban areas void of healthy affordable foods. And to really hone in how hard it is for Black men to access quality health care, a 2011 study suggested that they have better health care in prison than do in the outside world.


But we also have to admit that in many instances mentality serves as a barrier to why Black men are not as healthy as they should be. For a lot of guys, getting them to a doctor or to take a health issue seriously can be difficult. But remember, good health starts with determination.  And the first step is getting checked, either at your primary care doctor or local clinic.


According to the Office of Minority Health, here are some tests that you should get:


— Blood Cholesterol: Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 35. If you are younger than 35, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if you smoke, have diabetes or if heart disease runs in your family.


— Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.


— Colorectal Cancer: Regular screening for colorectal cancer begins at age 50, unless earlier screenings are recommended based on family history, medical history and lifestyle. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. How often you need to be tested will depend on which test you have.


— Diabetes: Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.


— Depression: If you've felt "down," sad or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether he or she can screen you for depression.


— Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Talk to your doctor about getting screened for sexually transmitted diseases caused by viruses such as HIV and Herpes.


— Prostate Cancer Screening: Talk to your doctor about the possible benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening if you are considering having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in which blood is drawn or digital rectal examination (DRE).


To learn about the screening guidelines for men's health, go here.


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(Photo: Rick Gershon/Getty Images)

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