Category: Men’s Health

Recent Data on Obesity Prevalence in the U.S.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recently released a data brief on recent estimates for obesity prevalence in the United States. These estimates are from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2015-2016. Some key survey findings showed that in 2015-2016, obesity prevalence was 39.8% among adults and 18.5% among youth in the U.S. Additionally, obesity prevalence was found to be 13.9% for children aged 2-5 years, 18.4% for children aged 6-11 years, and 20.6% for children aged 12-19 years.

While there was not a significant change in obesity prevalence among U.S. adults and youth between 2013-2014 and 2015-2016, obesity continues to remain an important public health concern.

Obesity prevalence rates in the U.S. do not currently meet national weight status objectives set forth in Healthy People 2020, a 10-year national agenda for improving public health in the U.S. These objectives are to reduce the proportion of U.S. adults that are obese to 30.5%, as well as reduce the proportion of U.S. children aged 2-5 years, 6-11 years, and 12-19 years that are obese to 9.4%, 15.7%, and 16.1%, respectively, by the year 2020.

Obesity can lead to serious health effects, such as: high blood pressure, heart disease, and even type 2 diabetes. However, maintaining a healthy weight through eating right and staying physically active can prevent these negative health outcomes.


Prevalence of Obesity among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015-2016. (2017, October). Retrieved from

Nutrition and Weight Status. (2017, October 13). Retrieved from

Eat Right. (N.d.). Retrieved from

Be Physically Active. (N.d.) Retrieved from

Football and Concussions: Where do we go from here?

October may be my favorite month of the year: sweater weather, changing leaves, and most importantly college football is at its peak. I am a University of Michigan Wolverine fan and every Saturday I look forward to watching the game. Even though I live and breath for college football, as a public health student I still have many concerns about the health implications of this game on players.

CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is a degenerative brain disease caused by multiple blows/hits to the head. This disease is seen in many former football players; however, the catch is that it is only diagnosable after a person has died through an autopsy. Symptoms of this disease include impulsive behavior, depression, memory loss, substance abuse, emotional instability and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

CTE has affected many former NFL players such as Mike Webster, Ken Stabler, Kevin Turner, Bubba Smith and Dave Duerson. A study published in JAMA this past July found that out of the 202 deceased football players 177 had CTE (87%) while of the 111 former NFL players 110 of them had CTE (99%). The high prevalence of this disease is a call for action on better treatment and care for these players by these franchises especially since these franchises are not running low on cash.

To learn more about CTE check out the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s website:

Lady Gaga Reveals Battle with Fibromyalgia

This past week, music sensation Lady Gaga revealed on her Twitter account that she has been battling fibromyalgia, and was recently taken to the hospital for severe pain, leading her to cancel one of her performances. While it may not have been easy to do, Lady Gaga’s decision to open up about her condition sheds an important light on the debilitating condition that is fibromyalgia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fibromyalgia affects about 4 million US adults. It is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and can include symptoms of fatigue, depression, and headaches that can negatively affect quality of life. While it is unclear what causes fibromyalgia,  some possible risk factors include age, stressful or traumatic experiences, family history, and sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are twice as likely to have fibromyalgia as men.

Treatment for fibromyalgia often involves a team of different health professionals, and can be effectively managed with a combination of medication, exercise, and stress management techniques.

Check out the following resources for more information about fibromyalgia and how you can get involved in raising awareness of this condition:

The National Fibromyalgia Association

The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, Inc.

Fibromyalgia | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Questions and Answers about Fibromyalgia | National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases  

Note: Lady Gaga has been working on a documentary entitled “Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two,” in which she discusses her battle with fibromyalgia. This film will be available on Netflix on September 22.  


Fibromyalgia. (2017, September 6). Retrieved from

Park, Andrea. (2017, September 13). Lady Gaga opens up about having fibromyalgia.

Questions and Answers about Fibromyalgia. (2014, July). Retrieved from

PrEP for HIV Prevention? Here’s what you need to know

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, has changed the way in which we talk about HIV Prevention. After being approved for preventive use by the FDA in 2012, there has been a sharp increase in PrEP prescriptions in the U.S. over the past several years. Currently, the only prescription available for PrEP is Truvada, which also serves as a treatment drug for those who are HIV positive.

Truvada is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, or an NRTI. When exposed to HIV, a NRTI works by masking itself as a building block of the virus’s genetic structure. While our own cells are able to recognize and correct for this coding mistake, HIV cannot, and as a result is unable to replicate and mount a widespread infection.

A quick distinction: Truvada as a drug is a form of PrEP, PrEP is a general class of preventive measures. Birth control can be thought of as a form of PrEP, preventing a pregnancy before it occurs. Even sunscreen is a form for PrEP. You apply lotion to prevent sunburn before it occurs.

But PrEP only works if you take it. According to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of uptake of PrEP in the United States has been among middle-aged, white, gay men. But the HIV epidemic has shifted, with the CDC noting continuous inequalities in the southern states and among young African Americans.

More concentrated efforts need to happen to ensure that those who can benefit from PrEP are able to access and receive it. Gilead, the company that produces Truvada, has a copay card available, where they pay up to $3600 a year in copays for those living under 500% of the national poverty level. For more information on PrEP, UNC campus health also serves as a great resource on campus, and students can get more information by making a free appointment with Student Wellness by emailing or by calling (919) 962-WELL(9355).

For additional Resources on what to know about PrEP, and how to have a conversation with your provider, please see the resources below for information from the CDC. For those looking for a PrEP friendly provider, here is a list of providers in the State of North Carolina who actively prescribe PrEP.

Sources –

Gilead Copay Card:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention PrEP Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention PrEP Information:

List of PrEP Providers:

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, and is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men? This year, the National Cancer Institute estimates that 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will appear, and the lives of 26,730 men will have been claimed by prostate cancer alone.

There are several factors that can increase men’s risk of prostate cancer, such as age, race, and family history. Older men, African-American men, and men with a family history of prostate cancer have an increased risk for having prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stages, and typically grows slowly. When it comes to screening for this disease, it’s important to be as informed as possible. There is no standard screening test for prostate cancer, and scientists are still studying certain screening tests used to detect this disease. Men, particularly those at an increased risk, may want to have a conversation with their health care provider about prostate cancer and the potential harms and benefits of prostate cancer screening.

This September, let us observe National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month by raising awareness of and educating our communities about prostate cancer and its risk factors, empowering men to take an active role in their health, supporting prostate cancer research and advocacy, as well as supporting those individuals currently battling prostate cancer. Together, we can end this disease.

Check out ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk, sponsored by ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, a prominent national non-profit organization fighting to end prostate cancer, to find a run/walk near you. Additionally, the UNC Pardee Hospital will be hosting a FREE “ABC’s of Screening for Prostate Cancer” event with Dr. Glover Little on Thursday, September 14, 2017, from 6:00-7:00 pm, at the Cancer Center at Pardee in Hendersonville, NC.

Finally, below are some helpful online resources for more information about prostate cancer:


Cancer Stat Facts: Prostate Cancer. (N.d.) Retrieved from

Prostate Cancer. (2016, November 14). Retrieved from

Prostate Cancer—Patient Version. (N.d.) Retrieved from

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors. (2017). Retrieved from

Prostate Cancer Screening (PDQ®)-Patient Version. (2017, February 17). Retrieved from

Prostate Cancer Screening Draft Recommendations. (2017). Retrieved from

Race Locations. (2017). Retrieved from

What’s the Deal with Male Birth Control?

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

I have been on many different types of birth control in the past 10+ years, all with varying levels of success and each with a new set of side effects including migraines. It has never been a question of if I should try a new method since no there is no effective reversible male birth control available.

Recently, it has made headlines that a male birth control shot has been found to effectively prevent pregnancy in a newly published study. Unfortunately, participants in the study reported adverse side effects including mood changes, depression, and increased and 20 participants dropped out of the study leading researchers to stop the study earlier than planned.

These reports come very soon after another recently published study that was in the news, which cited that hormonal birth control can cause depression in women.

While this particular study was cut short, it is my hope that research continues to search for a safe and effective method of male birth control. Over 80% of the male participants in the study responded that they would use this method of contraception outside of the study, which is hopeful for the future, and a sign that this method is very much wanted and needed. Both women and men deserve to have reproductive freedom without having to jeopardize their health or mental health.

But for now, until male birth control that is safe and effective is developed and approved, women must bear an unequal burden to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Read more about this interesting topic here.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

What is Domestic Violence? Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence affects individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, or other demographic factors. However, domestic violence is most commonly experienced by  women between the ages of 18-24.

Domestic violence is preventable. Part of domestic violence prevention includes talking about this issue and reducing the stigma associated with it as a community. While all of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the National Network to End Domestic Violence is hosting a week of action from October 16-October 22.

Here are some ways that you can get involved during the week of action and throughout all of October. You can also search for events that may be happening in your community with local organizations.

  • Wear purple for #PurpleThursday on Thursday October 20
  • Speak Out: Talk with a friend, family member, or colleague about domestic violence to help eliminate stigma and show survivors that they are supported.
  • Follow the National Network to End Domestic Violence on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and change

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.

Spotlight on Men’s Health [infographic]

Guest Blogger: John Rehm

According to, cancer is the second leading cause of death in men and that 1 in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer survival rates increases significantly if detected and treated early.

To increase public understanding of the disease, prevention tips, treatment options, and encourage men to proactively manage their health, the American Cancer Society has dubbed September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The graphic below created by Nursing@Georgetown, Georgetown University’s online FNP program, breaks down the U.S Department of Health and Human Services health guidelines for men to improve overall health and wellness throughout their lifespan.


Health Symptoms Men Shouldn’t Ignore

Although life expectancy is at it’s all time high of  78 years old, women are still expected to live at least five years longer than men. Why? The answer is simple: men just aren’t addressing their health problems. 

Studies show that men are half as likely to consult doctors than women, and were three times as likely to admit going more than five years without a visit! While this may not seem like a big deal to many, ignoring symptoms can often lead to worsening of health. Sometimes even the smallest symptoms can be signs of much more serious problems.

Here are just a few symptoms you should never ignore:

Problems in the Bedroom- Aside from causing obvious problems with performance, erectile dysfunction can be a sign of a much more serious problem that affects blood flow, like heart disease.

Chronic Snoring- While most people brush snoring off as a normal (and annoying) habit, it can actually be a sign of sleep apnea, a disorder where breathing is interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea not only disrupts quality of sleep but can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Trouble urinating- If you find yourself getting up several times in the night to pee, or feel pain or a burning sensation while going, it could be a sign of an enlarged or enflamed prostate, which can also be a sign of prostate cancer.

So if you find yourself with any of these symptoms, or anything else that seems out of the ordinary, make sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately. The sooner you address these problems, the sooner you find a solution and live a longer, healthier life.

Decline in Prostate Screening and Cancer

The availability of cancer screening is a great thing, under the right circumstances, but there is a danger to over-screening. While screening tests are useful tools, they are not always necessary to improve someone’s quality of life and sometimes lead to misdiagnosis. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force tries to aid the screening process by creating recommendations based on peer-reviewed research. As medical knowledge continues to grow and tests improve, these recommendations are subject to change over time.

In 2012, the USPSTF recommended against screening for prostate cancer for men 75 years old and older. Considering the slow pace at which most prostate cancers progress, the implications of a positive screen for prostate cancer can be worse than living with the disease, unaffected. With a positive test, comes a biopsy, which may lead to surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy, all of which come with their own set of challenges and complications – not to mention all of the psychological consequences that come with a positive cancer screening.

Two recent studies show that the American public and healthcare providers actually listened to the USPSTF guidelines, showing a significant decline in screening and prostate cancer diagnoses. 33,519 fewer men per year (since 2012) were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Not everyone is on board with this new recommendation, however. Some fear that the drastic decline in screening may lead to more prostate cancer- related deaths. For more information about this debate, please see NPR’s report.