On the third Sunday in June, men everywhere receive odd gifts—from strangely patterned neckties, and shirts that don’t fit, to handmade drawings and socket wrenches. Welcome to Father’s Day.
While many of these artifacts are soon relegated to closet drawers and forgotten, the love for the children who gave them remains.
It is for their children that fathers work, striving to secure a better future. To realize that future, men must first reach it. That means recognizing the most common health risks that can affect their mortality and their life insurance premiums .
“If a man has a heart attack or bypass surgery, he would generally be rated up two to four tables,” said Brian Ashe, President of Brian Ashe and Associates, Ltd., in Lisle, Ill., and spokesperson for the LIFE Foundation. “For each table rating, the premium mortality rate increases about 25 percent. If people have no health problems in those areas and no significant histories, they would not be affected and would qualify for preferred or standard underwriting.”
Preferred rates are the most affordable life insurance rates provided by insurance companies. Standard life rates are the next affordable. If an individual is found to smoke or have a number of pre-existing health conditions, a poor driving record, substance abuse problems or long-term bouts with depression, this may jeopardize them from getting the best insurance rates on a life insurance policy. In some cases, if the medical condition is severe enough or a chronic medical condition is not well maintained, they may be declined for life insurance coverage or asked to reapply once they improve their health status.
This is particularly important for men, who often overlook general health maintenance like regular doctors checkups or avoid going to the doctor when they are experiencing symptoms. Single fathers are also in need of sufficient coverage, according to New York Life.
According to information compiled from a number of sources that included Mayo Clinic, WebMD.com and the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS), men should look out for the following health risks that can impact their mortality and raise their life insurance rates:
1. Automobile accidents
Men are three times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than women. In 2009, the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety reported that 70 percent of all car crash fatalities in the United States involved men.
In addition to men spending more time on the road than women, men were also more likely to engage in risky driving behavior such as not wearing a seatbelt, speeding and driving under the influence. Based on historical data from the IIHS car crash fatalities declined for both men (27 percent) and women (15 percent) from 1975 to 2009.
2. Heart Attacks and Cardiac Arrest
Heart disease is the most common killer of men between the ages of 35 and 44. For men, 45 to 54 years old, it’s the number one.
3. High Blood Pressure
This can be an insidious killer because many men have it for years and don’t know it. High blood pressure quietly damages arteries over time and the risk increases with age. And if you are an African-American male, you are more vulnerable to high blood pressure at a much younger age. Another risk factor is obesity or a family history of high blood pressure.
Beer Me! While no one can hold it against dad for enjoying a cold brew after a hard day of work, it’s best to drink alcohol in moderation. Excessive alcohol use can also contribute to high blood pressure and a number of serious health conditions.
4. High Cholesterol
It’s no secret. Guys like to eat. But with a big appetite comes a greater risk of high cholesterol that can begin when a man is in his early 20s and increase after that.
Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death for men. If you ask most guys, they can’t identify one symptom of a stroke.
There are two types of strokes: Ischemic, which occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery; and Hemorrhagic, which result from a burst blood vessel in the brain. Ischemic are the most common. To reduce the risk of stroke, men should exercise for at least half an hour most days of the week, eat a diet low in saturated fat and high in fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and not smoke.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease affecting 90 to 95 percent of the 12 million American men with diabetes. Men with Type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but the amount is either not enough or their bodies can’t recognize the insulin and use it properly. When there is insufficient insulin, sugar (glucose) can’t get into the body’s cells to be used for fuel. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of the cells, the body can’t function properly.
7. Lung Cancer
More than 90 percent of lung cancers in men result from smoking cigarettes. Nine out of 10 cases could be completely prevented. How long and how heavily a man has smoked can determine his risk of developing lung cancer.
8. Colorectal Cancer
This term includes both colon and rectal cancer. Over 905 of the cases occur in men over the age of 50. Risk factors include, family history, previous colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, smoking, diabetes and a high-fat diet.
9. Prostate Disease
Every man has a prostate and therefore, they are at risk for prostate problems. Enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when a prostate gland grows to an unhealthy size. A man’s risk of developing BPD increases with age. Only about one out of every two men ever experience BPH symptoms that require treatment. Besides skin cancer, Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men. Approximately one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
10. Testicular Disease
Testicular cancer is the most serious form of testicular disease and is the most common cancer in men aged 18 to 35. Approximately 7,900 men will get testicular cancer this year, although that accounts for one percent of cancer in men.
This is a serious health risk for men. Depression affects men of every race, age and income level. At least 7 percent of American men suffer from depression each year. Because men traditionally exhibit different symptoms of depression than women, the severity may increase because it takes longer for them to seek clinical help.
A healthy diet balanced with regular exercise can minimize most of these potential risks.
“Exercise is very important as you get older,” says Bruce Franks, a Chicago-based tennis professional and trainer. “Players who are in good condition move around the court better and their recovery time is better after they play. And when things happen like injuries, if they’re in good physical condition, they’re better able to handle them.”
“Always remember that it’s your health that buys life insurance. The premium just pays for it,” said Ashe.