It’s Time to Invest in Your Health

June 14, 2016

June is Men’s Health Month and the purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

Research shows that about 60% of all deaths are due to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes and that these diseases have three common risk factors namely tobacco use, inappropriate diet and lack of physical activity. Similarly 90% of cancers in South Africa are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and lack of exercise. Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of disability and early death.

It therefore makes sense that by simply avoiding these risk factors the majority of deaths due to these diseases can be prevented. However simple it may sound, these require lifestyle changes that are not always so easy to implement and even more challenging to maintain.

1. Tobacco use and how to stop smoking

The best advice that can be given to any young boy is “don’t start smoking”. In South Africa the average age that boys start smoking is under fifteen. They start smoking for any number of different social and psychological reasons. It is an easily learnt behaviour and they very quickly learn to inhale. Within a relatively short frame of time the physical effects of nicotine initiate an addiction process.

Most smokers at some point in their life have attempted to stop smoking and know what that physical dependency feels like and the challenge it presents. We know from studies that three quarters of all smokers want to stop smoking and that every year nearly 40% of smokers will try to quit smoking. Unfortunately we also know that only about 3-5% of smokers successfully quit smoking cold turkey. Clearly, smokers need help in quitting smoking if they are to successfully stop smoking.

There are many ways to quit smoking – so how can I stop smoking and what is the best way to stop smoking?

Cochrane reviews show that a tobacco cessation program which includes a combination of support, behaviour change therapy and smoking cessation medication such as nicotine replacement therapy, give a smoker his best chance of quitting smoking. The GoSmokeFree tobacco cessation program uses these principles which triples a smoker’s chance of successfully quitting. Visit for more information.

2. Nutrition & Diet

We all know we need to eat more healthily, but what we may not know is that even small changes in dietary habits can have a significant impact on our health. For example, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption can reduce the risk of colon cancer by up to 50%. Healthy nutrition includes being aware of food labels, healthy alternatives at fast food restaurants and nutritional snacks at school tuckshops.

3. Physical activity

Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, the equivalent to that of a brisk walk, can reduce your risk of a heart attack by up to 50%. A positive mental attitude may be all that is required. So by making the decision to take the stairs and not the escalator, by not sitting for too long without a break at work, by walking the dog or just get moving, one can easily accomplish this. 

As we celebrate the men in our lives during Men’s Health Month let’s support their healthy lifestyle changes and invest in their good health.

Resources: – triple your chances of successfully quitting smoking

This article contains opinions and facts and references to other information sources. You should always consult a registered healthcare professional for any personal advice.

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