Happy men’s health month! If you are beginning to make plans to come to the U.S. and work in the healthcare field, understanding health issues that men in the U.S. deal with is incredibly important.
While gender is at the heart of any conversation related to men’s health, in this blog we will add another layer to the discussion, ethnicity and the cultural background of male groups. We’ll touch on healthcare trends relating to U.S. Black, Latino, White, Asian, and Native American and Alaska Native men.
Native American and Alaska Native Men
Native Americans and Alaska Native people have “higher rates of chronic diseases than other ethnic group in the United States” according to the CDC, the leading public health agency in the United States. This means that, during men’s health month, special attention should be given to Native American and Alaska Native communities as they have a lower life expectancy, are twice as likely to be diagnosed with illnesses like diabetes and have higher incidents of premature death than any other racial and ethnic group in the U.S. This includes the highest percentage of suicide rates and deaths in vehicle crashes.
Contributing factors include poverty, unemployment, isolation, smoking, poor housing, and a lack of adequate sanitation, all of which can be rooted in historical injustices like massacres, genocidal policies, forced relocations, boarding school policies, and epidemics from introduced diseases.
Tackling these health issues can take many forms including federal legislation that addresses things like vaccine education, healthcare reform that makes medical aid available even to those in remote locations, and promoting healthy behaviors that could decrease obesity percentages, which is often linked to cancer.
The health issues that Latinos face include diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, alcoholic cirrhosis, death from chronic liver disease, and are more likely to die from on-the-job injuries than other workers.
A large contributing factor to the men’s health issues among Latinos is the tendency to put off medical care. Across ethnicities, women are more likely to seek medical care. However, Latino men are much less likely than men in all other gender group to seek the care they need. And if they do seek help, it’s likely to be found in an emergency room as they wait to attend to medical issues until they find themselves in an emergency. Other factors include alcoholism, obesity, poverty, smoking among Puerto Rican and Cuban males, and where Latinos were born as those born outside of the U.S. are healthier overall.
Treating these health issues comes in many forms including educating Latinos to get regular exams, offering medical attention to all, including immigrants, and growing the representation of Latinos and Spanish-speakers in professional healthcare roles. If more medical professionals spoke the primary language of their patients, medical professionals would better understand the issues their patients face, patients would be more trusting of their healthcare provider, and better treatment plans would be created, resulting in healthier outcomes.
Leading causes of death highlight health disparities in the Black community. Black men often suffer from heart & lung disease, cancer, accidents, kidney disease, diabetes, and homicide. Black men are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke than white Americans. They also develop high blood pressure earlier in life and have a 40% higher cancer death rate than white men.
Contributing factors include large rates of high blood pressure, lack of access to quality healthcare, poor air quality, poverty, and racism. Read more about how racism and environmentalism are connected. Essentially, the physiology and biological makeup of all people, regardless of ethnicity, age, and gender make all people vulnerable to the same illnesses and viruses. Yet, the number of Black men facing serious health issues far outweighs the amount of their White male counterparts facing the same issues.
The New York Times asserts that treating these issues begins with understanding that there are more than 1.5 million black men between the ages of 25 and 54 years who are missing from daily life as a result of premature mortality (900,000 black men) or incarceration (625,000 black men). “Black men who are released from prison are also invisible as a result of not being represented in national survey samples, which, therefore, grossly mischaracterize black men’s social, economic, and health statuses. This undercounting of black men adversely affects the perceived and actual need for economic resources and social services, and the political needs of the communities to which these men return upon release. Many formerly incarcerated men are unable to obtain legitimate employment and do not participate in civic life, which not only affects them but also affects the communities where they and their families live. Black men disappear from daily life into concrete cells and are released into cities across the United States that relegate them beyond the social and economic margins into a chasm of social isolation.” –NCBI
Dedicated research to the medical issues that Black men face must be a priority. Other steps to treating these health issues include education on healthy eating, along with the importance of physical activity and regular health exams.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Men
Leading causes of death among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) men include cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and unintentional injuries. Addressing these health issues comes in a variety of forms. First, monitor BMI and consult a physician if BMI is at or over 23. Consider regular cancer screenings for things like cancer and diabetes and make annual checkups a priority.