Why we have become a nation of cowards

The Good Life Letter 

9th February 2018

  • The scary truth about modern cancers
  • How modern medicine may be its own worst enemy
  • A free report that can give vital information Ė available for everyone
Next birthday I get to be 53.

I know there is nothing remarkable in that, other than it brings me closer to my first prostate test.

In the news this week has been a story that prostate cancer deaths are now higher in numbers than breast cancer deaths for the first time since records began.

Across the various interpretations of the significance of this statistic has been a common theme Ė men donít take their health seriously.

A sub plot to this is the suggestion that us staunch fellows shy away from the doctor whenever it has anything to do with issues below the waist, and some commentators even say that a reticence to get tested is due to the fact that we are not comfortable with the scrutiny of our manhood that this involves.

Funnily enough the previous week saw a series of stories about cervical cancer and the fact that women in the younger age range (25-49 years of age) are failing to book their appointments for testing or are more likely to miss their tests on the day.

Once again the reason proposed for this was that this age group were overly self conscious about how their genital areas looked and were worried about exposing them to the nurses conducting the tests.

Have we really become a nation of prudes to the detriment of our health and longevity?

There may be something in this but I would argue that there are other significant causes of a failure to engage with our sexual and genital health Ė and this has more to do with the way these tests are carried out than the bashful nature of the patients.

This is not to say that we are in any way blasť about the risks of developing these serious and life limiting conditions; I think most people will have friends or relatives who have undergone treatment for one or other of these cancers so will understand the serious effects they can have.

However, we also know what awaits us within the hallowed portals of the doctorís surgery and to be honest it all seems a bit barbaric in the 21st century.

The stoic and long-suffering generations will no doubt chide me for raising the issue of having to suffer a little discomfort for the long-term benefits that can result, but even they must realise that in this age of shared experiences the fear of what is to happen is sometimes exaggerated and becomes an issue in itself.

Of course the fairer sex will immediately say that for the men the process isnít too horrible at all since the initial phase is simply a blood test which is looking for the presence of raised levels of a specific protein called Prostate Serum Antigen (PSA) Ė nothing to worry about at all they will say.

And indeed they are right.

Men over the age of fifty who have a family history of prostate problems and/or are black, should be discussing having this test with their GP but very few of them do and I really am not sure why this is the case. What are they scared of?

Medieval medicine in action

In an age where our healthcare is increasingly becoming one where we get surrounded by machinery and have the chance to see babies in the womb, get scans to visualise the discs in our spine and even see how our brains are working, the medical approach to our sex organs seems somewhat backward.

For women you have to undergo having your delicate and sensitive breast tissue squeezed between metal plates to facilitate an x-ray, and the cervical screen basically involves using a sterile lolly stick to scrape cells away from the highly innervated cervix at the base of the womb.

In the case of men we get to become closely acquainted with our doctor through the insertion of a finger into what many regard as a one way street and have our prostates palpated through the bowel wall.

These are not disastrously dangerous or majorly invasive procedures I know, but at the same time they do seem a little uncouth for a modern age.

I think the fear of these specific procedures lies at the heart of why both men and younger women shy away from the tests which could save their lives Ė and that is really not sensible.

When my time comes to have the test I canít say I will approach the medical room with joy, but in the same way as I subject myself to the pain of a biannual dental check I will do what is necessary to ensure that I am around to mortify my children for as long as possible!

Given the chance I will also encourage my friends and drinking buddies to do the same, should the topic arise over a pint...

...and this is the real reason why men are failing to get their prostate checked Ė we donít communicate with each other about it.

Women do. Groups of like minded individuals actually raise the topic of sexual health with each other and offer insight and advice about the procedures, results and outcomes over a coffee, at the school gate or even in the supermarket queue
No topic is ever off limits and support and advice is always on hand.

The blokes donít do any of this unless cornered and forced into a headlock!

I read in The Observer last Sunday that this might be due to a difference in neural processing by men versus women, where the instinct of men is to act as protectors and therefore cannot show weakness, whereas women are carers and need to ensure their survival to nurture their offspring.

Canít say that makes much sense to me and certainly doesnít explain why men arenít getting their prostates checked or why young women are failing to undergo cervical screening.

My advice to any of you, men or women, who are reading this is to get yourself checked as and when the opportunity arises but also to get friends and family to do the same.

The tests might be a bit embarrassing and even uncomfortable, but the chances of getting ahead of a developing cancer outweigh any of that.

I am no coward as regards the tests, but I really canít face the prospect of telling my children that my life will be prematurely ending because I felt embarrassed... think about it folks!

Yours, as always


P.S. If you want to know more about the prostate and how to look after it please download this free report and tell others to do the same, even if they are not subscribers to the Good Life Letter Ė you may be doing them more than a favour, you might be saving their life.



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