Friday, June 15, 2018

Top Health Risks for Men

It has been scientifically proven than women tend to be healthier than men. Currently, a man’s life expectancy is around 75 years, while the life expectancy for a woman is around 80 years. Part of this is due to the fact that males make far less visits to their doctor than females do. One reason being that men simply have a much more lax approach when it comes to their health; as well as the fact that there has also been a long cultural understanding that all men are expected to be “macho,” and therefore they don’t like asking for help out of fear that it might make them seem weak or less masculine. Unfortunately, these reasons are only putting men’s health at risk.

According to Dr. Demetrius Porche, Professor and Dean of Louisiana State University Health and Sciences Center, as long as men are working and productive they do not take the time to consider the risks to their health. However, even if you feel healthy, you should always have regular check-ups with your physician, as certain conditions can manifest without any symptoms whatsoever, and that can sometimes make treatment difficult. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, has compiled together a list of the top threats to men’s health, and what you can do to avoid them.   

Heart Disease
Nearly 3 million Canadians live with heart disease. It’s the leading threat to men’s health, and the second leading cause of death worldwide in both males and females. Heart disease is an umbrella term used to describe many different conditions relating to the heart, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, angina, and arrhythmias. Heart disease can also lead to things like heart attack or stroke. In order to prevent heart disease, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends having your cholesterol and blood pressure levels checked regularly. You’re also at an increased risk of developing heart disease if you are a smoker, so you should quit. You can find some helpful smoking cessation tips from Dr. Ghahary here. Increasing your physical activity and eating healthier can also reduce the risk of heart disease and improve your overall wellbeing.

Lung Cancer
The incidence of lung cancer is greater in men than women. It can be an aggressive disease, and is usually metastatic – meaning it easily spreads to other parts of the body, sometimes before it even causes symptoms or appears on an x-ray. Because of how advanced lung cancer is, it can be a difficult cancer to cure. Similar to heart disease, smoking puts you at risk of developing lung cancer. In fact, tobacco use is responsible for as many as 90% of all lung cancers that are diagnosed. There are few preventive measures that are as effective as stopping smoking when it comes to reducing the risk of lung cancer. If you’re having trouble quitting smoking despite numerous attempts, reach out to your physician for help.

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is a male-specific condition, and is the most common form of cancer in men aside from skin cancer. Last year, over 21,000 Canadian men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. On average, 58 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day, while 1 in 29 will die from it. Prostate cancer can be slow-growing and unlikely to spread, or it can be aggressive. During its early stages, prostate cancer often doesn’t present with any symptoms. However, symptoms that can develop include burning or painful urination, difficulty urinating, frequent urges to urinate, loss of bladder control, and blood in urine.

You can find much more information on men’s health by visiting

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Speech and Hearing Month

Unfortunately, many of us take our ability to be able to communicate for granted; that’s why throughout the entire month of May, Canadians are using the hashtag #communicateawareness on various social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to promote Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.

An estimated 1 in 6 Canadians have a communication disorder, which can include speech, language, hearing and auditory impediments, as well as balance and even swallowing disorders. Our speech controls how way say different sounds and words, while or language includes the words we use to share ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc. For anyone with a speech or hearing impediment, they may be unable hear words clearly, stutter, have a hoarse or raspy sounding voice, or have difficulty understanding, speaking, reading, and even writing. These kinds of disorders can have a major and oftentimes negative impact on one’s physical wellbeing, as well as emotional, social, vocational and even financial wellbeing – especially in children, as the child’s first 5 years are the most crucial for development. Which is why the earlier a speech or hearing disorder is identified, the better the chances are for improvement. If the disorder is permanent, early detection can also improve a child’s ability to be able to cope with this type of disorder. Additonally, seniors can also develop speech and hearing disorders. You can ready more about early detection here.

If you or someone you know has a speech-language disorder, a speech-language pathologist and/or audiologist can help to identify these disorders by helping manage speech, language, voice, swallowing, and feeding disorders, as well as work with individuals who suffer from hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. In some cases you may only need to see one type of specialist, while others may need to see both a speech-language pathologist and audiologist for the best care.

When it comes to getting involved in 2018’s Speech and Hearing Awareness Month, there is lots you can do to spread the word. Before posting on social media, think of the message you want to communicate. What’s most important to you? Are you a health professional looking to invite others to join the conversation? Or are you someone who suffers or knows someone who suffers from a speech or language impediment? And, more importantly, what has been your experience? One of the main focuses of this year’s campaign is to not only communicate awareness, but make others aware that there are many different ways to communicate – whether it’s through social media, written word, photographs, or even sign language.

Visit to learn more about Speech and Hearing Month and to find out the different ways in which you can get involved, as well as an array of resources to help get you started.

Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

Throughout the month of May, various health professionals and health organizations are spreading awareness about bladder cancer as part of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. According to Bladder Cancer Canada, an estimated 9,000 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year, and it’s the 5th most common cancer in the country.

There are many risk factors that can increase your chances of developing bladder cancer, including:

• Smoking
• Chemical exposure
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Chronic bladder infections
• Bladder birth defects
• Other urothelial cancer
• Family history
• Race and ethnicity
• Age
• Gender

While some of these risk factors cannot be changed – such as family history and genetics, race and ethnicity, age and gender – there are certain steps that you can take to help prevent bladder cancer, such as quitting smoking, avoiding or limiting exposure to industrial chemicals in the workplace, and drinking plenty of water. Some studies have also suggested that including more fruits and vegetables in your diet can not only prevent bladder cancer, but also reduce your risk of other cancers.

Common signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include:

• Frequent urination
• Lower back pain
• Pain or burning sensation when urinating
• Blood in the urine
• Feeling the urge to urinate throughout the evening
• Feeling the urge to urinate but being unable to pass urine

It is worth noting that sometimes, patients with bladder cancer may experience none or very few of these symptoms. These symptoms are also not 100% indicative that you do have bladder cancer, as these symptoms are also common in urinary tract infections and other medical conditions that are non-cancer related.

When it comes to any type of cancer, early detection is key in order for treatment to be successful. One of the most common screening tests for bladder cancer is via a urinalysis. A urinalysis can test for blood in the urine. Typically, blood that is found in the urine is often caused by a benign condition, such as an infection, but large amounts can also be the first sign of bladder cancer. If it is suspected that a patient might have bladder cancer, some newer tests can also be performed to look for cancer cells/tumour markers. For example, things like chromosome changes, the presence of substances such as mucin and carcinoembryonic antigen (which are commonly found on cancer cells), as well as high levels of the protein known as NMP22. Family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will often recommend regular bladder cancer screening tests for patients that are considered high risk.

Treatment is dependent on the stage of the cancer, but can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, intravesical therapy, as well as surgery. Sometimes a patient may need to undergo a combination of different treatment methods, which will be decided by your team of medical professionals – including radiation and medical oncologists, as well as urologists.