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The strongest predictor of how long a new-born baby is destined to live is not whether they’re born in a city or in a rural area, their nationality, or the color of their skin.  It’s whether they are born male or female.  Men live about 5 fewer years than women. Are men just genetically predisposed to earlier and more death?  Or could a change in behavior result in mitigation of this risk?

I refuse to accept the notion that there is nothing that we men can do to improve our chances of living very long and rich lives. It’s time to take ownership of our own health. We need to be figuring out how to include exercise and healthy foods.   And all tobacco use has to go.  Men need to have a primary care clinician and to go for check-ups.  At least one check-up by age 40, every 3 years from 40 to 50 and an annual check-up after age 50 can go a long way to identifying and modifying health risks.  One of the best ways to stay healthy is to be screened for colon cancer by age 50, or even younger if we have risk factors.  A colonoscopy every 10 years or a stool blood test every year just aren’t that hard to do.

You want to surprise and delight the women in your life?  Call your primary clinician and let them know you want to be screened for cancer.  That’s the manly thing to do.

Editor’s Note: The Prevent Cancer Foundation’s June guest blogger Richard Wender, M.D. is a Professor and Chair of Family Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA and a member of the Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board.