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The Doctor Is In
Kim Lute | Photo: Heidi Geldhauser | May 27, 2014
Getting men to open up and talk about their health concerns is like trying to get them to talk about their feelings: They sometimes need a little feminine help. In recognition of June’s Men’s Health month, we sat down with venerated Atlanta physician, co-founder of Buckhead’s new RYSE men’s wellness clinic and issue guest editor Dr. Jameelah Gater and a couple of health-conscious Atlanta men (NextMed’s Todd Pierce and Hugo Boss’ Sergei Lobanov) for a discussion about managing their health.
Men’s Book: What tests and medical numbers should men regularly track?
Dr. Jameelah Gater: Knowing your total cholesterol—good and bad—and triglycerides are important, and then blood pressure, heart rate and PSA [prostrate specific antigen, which tests for prostate cancer] starting at age 40, unless you have a strong family history. And there’s been some controversy recently about this, whether we should be screening and if we pick up too many false positives and expose men to too many unnecessary procedures, but I think most physicians and especially urologists would say every man at age 50 should start to have a conversation with their doctor about PSA testing, and then if you’re African-American or have a family history, you should start at age 40.
Sergei Lobanov: Which groups are more susceptible to colon cancer?
JG: African-Americans followed by Caucasians are at the highest risk. Asian-Americans actually have the lowest risk, but part of it depends on how Americanized you are. There actually tends to be a lower risk of colon cancer in parts of Asia, where the culture is very traditional and they drink lots of green tea, [and] they eat loads of fish and rice, and when they become more Westernized is when we see the increase risk of cancer.
MB: Is it true that when men have male doctors they might not be as forthcoming about their health?
JG: A lot of times, when you have a male doctor, and when you finally go into the doctor, you’re talking about sports, and you’re making small talk, and then when the doctor asks if everything is OK, and the guy says yes, but they may have had a couple more issues to bring up that they swept under the rug and didn’t get to what needed to be addressed.
Todd Pierce: I can see that in me, and I would imagine many men suffer from this because we try to minimize it. If you talk about something that’s wrong, you’re admitting some kind of strange weakness.
MB: What supplements should men incorporate into their diet?
JG: The main one I recommend is a multivitamin. And then fish oil is a great one. You want to make sure that it’s an omega-3 fish oil and that it’s 1000 mg of omega-3. The way to tell is to flip the bottle over and look at the EPA and DHA content; it should add up to 1000 mg. Ideally, for heart health you should take in 600-650 mg of EPA and 300-400 mg of DHA daily.
SL: How can busy, professional men deal with stress?
JG: The challenge is just carving out enough time for yourself, so whether you get up a little earlier, or after you put the kids to bed, make that part of your routine and take the time to do something you enjoy doing. What do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
SL: Sleep. I am a big sleeper. Exercise when I have time. It’s not easy, I always feel like I am losing something. Like I am sitting here, and I feel like I’m losing something some place else because I’m not there.
SL: How often should men be having sex?
JG: For every man it’s different, but [for] most folks in their 30s and 40s, I would say at least twice a week is healthy.
TP: I hear sex is good for the prostate?
JG: Yes, when you’re constantly releasing fluid, you’re massaging and exercising that muscle.
MB: Is there a medical downside to men not wanting to discuss erectile dysfunction?
JG: Yes. One of the important things is that ED is actually a telltale clue to cardiovascular disease (CVD) or heart disease. If you’re not getting erections in the middle of the night or early when you wake, then you probably have a physical problem and not a psychological issue. Being candid with your doctor about ED can often lead to early detection of CVD, which is the No. 1 killer of men in the U.S.
MB: As far as self-testing, should men examine their testicles, and what should they be looking for?
TP: I don’t know what to look for.
SL: Yes, what exactly should we look for?
JG: You want to look for something smooth and uniform. You shouldn’t feel any lumps or bumps.
MB: What about breast exams?
TP: I never have. Didn’t know it was an issue.
JG: It certainly wouldn’t hurt to do that. I’d say one small leap at a time. If we can get [men] to do testicular exams, and get that down pat, then we’ll move on to your male breast exams.
TP: My shower is going to take a lot longer!
JG: Can you have your partner do it for you?
TP: Fair enough! And then we can lead right into that other recommendation. [laughs]
JG: If they’re checking your testicles, maybe it will lead to more sex and less stress, who knows. Medical foreplay!