Movember tips: what 2018 taught us about men’s health

In Movember, we promote awareness of issues related to men’s health. And as we approach Thanksgiving and the holidays, our thoughts turn to family. So as our families start to gather, here’s a Movember review of some of 2018’s more interesting discoveries that can impact men’s health.

According to the American Cancer Society, about one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but only 1 in 41 will die from this common but generally slow-moving disease in his lifetime. So the annual deluge of prostate cancer research comes with a healthy dose of optimism; if you’re male you really need to know about this cancer, but if you do your homework you’ll be well equipped to defeat it.

This year researchers found one set of genetic markers that can predict increased prostate cancer risk and another that can distinguish between fatal and manageable prostate cancers. We learned that for men who’ve already had prostate cancer treatment, increasing screening through PSA monitoring from once a year to quarterly didn’t increase survival rates. An artificial intelligence program learned to identify cancerous samples as effectively as human pathologists. Ultrasound proved to be as effective as surgery or radiotherapy at treating prostate cancer, but with fewer side effects. And eating dinner before 9:00 pm is associated with a 20% lower risk of prostate cancer.

Protection from cancer isn’t the only reason not to eat at night. A study this year found (among Latino men, with results likely to be replicable more widely) that eating late at night is associated with an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other heart ailments. Also, you burn more calories while doing nothing in the late afternoon and early evening than you do by doing nothing in the early morning. (Conclusions: get up. Get fed. Get moving.)

2018’s alcohol news was bad alcohol news. This year we learned that there’s no “safe” amount of alcohol use; that, perhaps surprisingly, alcohol damages the brain more than marijuana; and, definitely unsurprisingly, that when you drink too much you’ll be a cognitive wreck the next day.

Hoping to lose weight? It turns out eating moderate amounts of carbohydrates is better for your longevity than consuming extremely low amounts of carbs. If you do lose weight and want to keep it off for more than a year, your best bet is to a) keep exercising, and b) stick to a low-calorie Mediterranean Diet. And if you undergo bariatric surgery in order to lose weight, you might enjoy heightened testosterone levels afterward.

And finally, a few more 2018 studies whose results have the potential to change our daily lives, one way or another.

The bad news is, those forehead wrinkles might signal heart disease risk. And social media use can increase loneliness and depression.

But the good news is, cycling doesn’t damage one’s sexual or urinary function. The really good news is that regularly drinking coffee reduces your Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s risk. And the really, really good news is that vacations can prolong your life.

What more inspirational headline could we hope for heading into Thanksgiving? Have a restful and life-prolonging vacation this week, and may a more knowledgeably healthy 2019 lie around the corner for you and your family.

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