An Ounce of Prevention is Worth A Pound of Cure

Scott Braver
8 min readOct 21, 2021
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

There is much noise out there surrounding preventative medicine versus reactionary medicine. Some people fall into the camp of not wanting ANY pharmaceutical medications and some want medications to solve every one of life’s issues.

Balance is important and it is important for people to understand what is necessary and what is considered “fluff.”

Preventative medicine is always the best medicine and helps reduce unnecessary financial burdens in the long term. Sure, it is more difficult or inconvenient at times, but the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term challenges.

This list is NOT all-inclusive but should provide a good starting guideline for MEN in their journey to longevity and quality of life.

Start Somewhere

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The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF for short) has provided some general guidelines for screening tools to help catch disease processes early and intervene accordingly.

Some of the recommendations are wise, and some are unnecessary and cumbersome. It is NOT a one sized fits all approach and should be specified to that individual’s needs.

Take into account, smoking history, blood pressure management, cardiovascular risk factors associated with family history, and overall lifestyle.

If someone has good blood pressure, is not overweight, is active, does not have a history of smoking or family cardiovascular disease, they should not be taking aspirin as a preventative measure.

Conversely, if someone is an active smoker, has a family history of stroke or heart attack, is overweight, and is not active- excluding any stomach issues, they should be taking aspirin for preventative care (as well as a slew of other lifestyle interventions)

First, we need to identify your risk factors and go from there. What is your lifestyle like? Are you active? Are you overweight? Do you smoke or drink alcohol? Did your parents or grandparents have a history of stroke, heart attack, or high blood pressure? Did they have an early diagnosis of cancer? What kind of cancer?

These are questions that you need to discuss with your primary care provider to help identify which screening tool is best for you and YOUR specific situation.

Oftentimes, it’s hard to differentiate between symptoms to properly diagnose the issue. Someone can present with fatigue, decreased libido, trunkal obesity, poor sleep, ED, and depression.

Where do you start with that presentation? You start at the beginning!

Identify lifestyle behaviors and start the screening process with blood work. Is it thyroid? Is it depression? Is it your hormones? No one knows until a thorough blood screen is done. Could it be undiagnosed diabetes?

All of these are easy fixes IF caught early and treated with lifestyle modifications, and worst-case scenario medications if those don’t work.

Unfortunately, guys are the worst at seeking medical care due to this perceived machismo and needing to be tough. Guys can be tough, but be smart about it at the same time. If you are having chest pain and you think it will go away if you ignore it, you are in a world of hurt.

If you scrape your knee, you don’t need to go to the ER for stitches. Use common sense and identify what could potentially be life-threatening versus something that is easily treated with household interventions.

Guys need to take better preventive care to show and illustrate that it is okay to be in tune with their bodies. Your children learn a great deal from you and need to see a good role model in health maintenance.

Heart Screening

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The biggest and best screening category has to deal with our heart health. Guys have higher precedence of heart disease than females and we tend to also have higher cholesterol and higher blood pressure.

Guys already have a high risk due to structural differences and frequent lifestyle choices. Guys struggle with admitting there is a problem and they don’t pay attention to what their body is saying.

Blood pressure is known as the silent killer for many people globally due to insufficient and poor dietary choices. This could be perpetuated by something called sleep apnea. Guys have a structural difference and generally have more mass surrounding their neck and chest. If your partner says that you snore, have excessive daytime sleepiness or visually witnesses you stop breathing when you sleep, please get a sleep study done!

If your blood pressure is anything over 120/80, please speak with your provider. Many places like pharmacies have a free blood pressure monitoring station to check your own blood pressure. This is a very easily treated disease process that needs immediate and prompt attention.

So far, those are two of the most impactful preventative testing measures that are ABSOLUTELY free!!

If you want to be more aggressive, check your cholesterol. If you have a strong family history or your cholesterol is bad, get a calcium score. That is a low-dose cat scan that looks at the arteries on the heart to see if there is any calcification present. That indicates if we are at high risk from a stroke or heart attack and would need further evaluation by a cardiologist to see if other options are needed for prevention.

All of these tests are not financially restrictive and are generally covered by insurance or have a highly affordable cash rate.

Prevention doesn’t have to be hard, but you need to start somewhere and know what questions to ask.

Do you smoke? How long have you smoked for? Perhaps a low dose cat scan of your lungs is warranted as a high yield cancer screening tool.

Is your peeps on the fritz? I would check your blood pressure because undiagnosed high blood pressure can cause detrimental effects on sexual health.

Are you experiencing swelling in your feet or an indentation of your socks on your ankles that don’t go away? Are you short of breath easy? That should be checked to see if your heart is struggling.

All these clues are indicators that we need to investigate and help prevent it from getting worse.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Sexual Health Screening

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Guys, if you are sexually active and not in a monogamous relationship….its ALWAYS a good idea to get screened annually for sexually transmitted diseases, even if you are wearing a condom.

Condoms break, things happen. Get checked to preserve your sexual health and keep others safe. Gone are the days of barbaric testing where a Q tip had to go down the urethra to collect a specimen.

We can simply draw some blood or do a urine sample and collect all the information we need. It is not cost-prohibitive and is a great screening tool to prevent other issues from forming.

If guys are on hormonal replacement therapy, it’s always wise to check your prostate health, at least annually. Many things can change and be sure to avoid sexual intercourse, masturbation, riding a bike, sitting for prolonged periods of time 72 hours PRIOR to checking your prostate number so there is not a falsely high result.

This is incredibly important because if the providers don’t do their due diligence, they could expose you to unnecessary invasive procedures that could cause more harm than good.

Guys 18–25 should be checking their testicles in a hot shower to assess for lumps or painful nodules. They may also discover hydroceles or varicoceles in the process. This is a free exam that could be life-saving if testicular cancer is found.

Generally, guys after 25 are not at high risk for developing testicular cancer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Any pain in the groin area should be evaluated to ensure there is no testicular torsion (medical emergency) or hernia present. Do not let this go unchecked. Evaluation needs to occur.

That goes with any penile discharge, pain, or discomfort with urination or not. It is not normal to occur and will not go away on its own. Guys usually don’t get UTIs so it is likely a sexually transmitted process that is causing issues.

Metabolic Health Screening

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Metabolic health has become a global pandemic in its own right. Our standard American diet doesn't help and our food quality is in the trash.

We have to remember that there are 10 companies globally that control ALL of our food products. It's a business, they are not making food to save lives.

We want it convenient, to taste good, and quick. Well, in order for that to happen the food has to have preservatives and other chemicals in it to keep that shelf life forever.

Even if you don't have a belly yet, there is such thing as skinny fat. Our phenotype (physical appearance) might not have caught up with our insides if we are eating a diet full of refined carbs and processed fats.

It is wise if you are overweight to get a hemoglobin A1c done annually to ensure we are still heading in the right direction. Checking your cholesterol annually as well as fasting insulin are great indicators that can tell your providers a good amount of your health profile.

The next step is up to you with maintaining or improving your metabolic health.

Diabetes is, unfortunately, becoming more and more prevalent and more of the norm than not. We must be forthright and advocate for our health.

Eat real foods that do not have nutritional labels. That is how we fight this pandemic. We take control by eating what we are supposed to it. Yes, it takes more work, but we are talking about your health here.

Since we eat a very carb-centric diet, checking our thyroid is vitally important because of the gluten factor. Gluten is one of the biggest contributors to hypothyroidism (low thyroid) and can EASILY be corrected by simply checking.

If you are having a difficult time with weight loss, infrequent bowel movements, hair loss or thinning, dry skin, feeling depressed, or having a hard time concentrating, get your thyroid checked.

All the tests mentioned above are easily performed with a simple blood test. Interpretation is up to the provider, but make sure they go over the blood work with you instead of telling you that everything is fine.

Ask questions. Understand why they are saying everything is fine. This is your health and you have the right to know.

Make it a point to hear past the noise and take charge of your health once more. You are setting an example for your friends and family.

Don't fall trapped to the confines of society with the poor dietary choices that are so easily prevalent. Go against the stream and improve your health.

Be strong. Be brave.