Good lifestyle choices — exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and drinking in moderation — obviously makes a big difference in staying healthy. Research in the last few decades has shown, however, that environmental exposures may also contribute to major diseases and health problems that disproportionately affect men, including heart disease, prostate cancer, infertility, and skin cancer.
These exposures involve a number of toxic substances that turn up in food, food packaging, drinking water, and personal care products. Fortunately, there are simple steps men can take to significantly lower their risks.
For example, risk factors for heart disease have been linked to mercury from certain seafoods, Teflon chemicals in non-stick cookware, bisphenol-A (BPA) in hard plastic containers, and canned foods, as well as the arsenic and lead in much of the nation’s drinking water.
Similarly, prostate cell damage has been traced to the plastics chemical BPA and the heavy metal cadmium. Increased prostate cancer risk has been associated with certain agricultural pesticides common on some fruits and vegetables and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that build up in meat and dairy products.
And while many people mistakenly think of infertility as primarily a woman’s problem, the fact is that in about 40% of infertile couples, it’s the male who is either the sole or a contributing source of the problem. Several studies have tied sperm deficiency to a variety of environmental factors, including exposures to lead, chemicals in personal care products, and pesticides.
Skin cancer is also an especially important issue for men, who are at a higher risk than women of developing and dying from melanoma, the deadliest form.
While many believe that there’s not much a man can do about his genetics, this is a common misconception. In fact, many interventions exist that will fix a man’s genetic makeup. That is because it’s not always about what genes you have, but it’s about what genes are turned on and which ones are turned off.
A huge reason why you will feel better, as the practitioners in Bingham’s Men’s Health Initiative assist you, is that you will be turning on good genes and turning off bad genes. This is called epigenetics, which is why you will start feeling so much better. By reversing your current health problems and preventing new ones from starting, you will be empowered to thrive with a healthier lifestyle.
Aside from genetics, there are lots of ways to reduce potentially harmful environmental exposures. Here are five steps you can take immediately:
1. Filter Your Water
Invest in the right in-home water filter system to reduce your exposure to lead, arsenic, and other drinking water contaminants.
2. Spot and Avoid Products with BPA
Avoid canned foods and plastic containers with the recycling code No. 7 to lower your exposure to BPA dramatically.
3. Buy Organic
At the supermarket, choose the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the fewest pesticide residues and buy organic versions of those.
4. Know the Grooming Ingredients
When buying deodorant, soap, lotions, and shampoos, consult www.EWG.org/skindeep which is an extensive database of nearly 80,000 personal care products to highlight those products that are free of toxic chemicals.
5. Protect Your Skin
Learn more about skin cancer and melanoma, use proper sun protection, and get regular skin checks with a dermatologist.
Liberally apply sunscreen about 20 to 30 minutes before going outside. And don’t forget your ears, scalp, back of neck, and the tops of your feet. Some of the worse burns occur there. Because the sun emits two types of harmful rays — UVA and UVB — your sunscreen should provide broad-spectrum protection against both.
The specialists at Bingham Healthcare Dermatology highly recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater with the physical UV blockers zinc oxide. (Avoid sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide as studies have shown this could lead to decreased testosterone levels.)
About David J. Bilstrom, MD
Dr. Bilstrom is director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine, which is the first medical center in the country to treat all types of autoimmune diseases. It is also the first to use nature, and its ability to improve human health and well-being, as an integral part of a wellness program.
He is quadruple board certified in Functional and Regenerative Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Medical Acupuncture. He has extensive experience in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine, Acupuncture, Integrative Medicine, and Complementary and Alternative Medicines.
Dr. Bilstrom works closely with experts in a number of medical specialties to evaluate, diagnose and treat chronic and autoimmune diseases. He is always welcoming new patients at his office within the Bingham Specialty Plaza in Blackfoot. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (208) 782-2444.
Bingham Specialty Plaza
326 Poplar Street
P: (208) 782-2444