30 Worst Men's Health Myths That Won't Die
Don't think twice about forgetting these pesky, pervasive beliefs.
Fact: Men hate going to the doctor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, twice as many men as women have no regular source of health care, and one recent study found that more than half of men haven't even been to see their primary care physician within the past year. What gives, fellas?
Now, we can't say for certain why exactly men are so lazy about their health, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we always get such conflicting information. There are far too many "alternative facts" swirling online about our health. That's why we've compiled all the most egregious examples in one place. So read on, and get to the doctor! And for great ways to whip yourself into peak condition, be sure to check out the 100 Ways to Be a (Much) Healthier Man.
We hit our sexual peak at 18
Although production of the sex hormone testosterone peaks around age 18 in men, that doesn't equate to being able to perform at your best in the bedroom. True sexual prowess comes with an accumulation of skills—emotional and physical—that come with experience and maturity that isn't tied to a specific age. For more ways to keep the sparks flying between the sheets, try out any of the 30 Hottest Tricks For Enhancing Your Love Life.
Squats are bad for you
The idea that doing back squats with a barbell can be harmful to your knees or back comes from guys not taking the time to learn proper form when doing the compound exercise. When done correctly, the back squat is one of the best moves for building lower body strength and balance while working your whole body, triggering fat burning and testosterone release. Don't take it from us—take it from Mark Wahlberg. Squats are one of the secrets to his ageless physique.
Wearing a hat will make you bald
It kind of makes sense that this myth gained traction—regularly donning of hats could be seen as cutting your scalp and hair off from fresh air and sunlight, or the hat fabric may be rubbing against your pate, making a bare spot. But, no a hat will not cause baldness, it's conclusively tied to ancestry and genetics, so keep up the cap wearing if you want. Just have show some manners and take it off indoors. And for some great fashion tips, check out the 30 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s.
Prostate cancer kills the most men
Prostate cancer is pretty prevalent in men, with about one and nine men being diagnosed with the disease. But it's not the worst killer. In fact, out of all cancers, lung cancer is actually the No. 1 killer of men.
At the end of the day, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it—only around one and 41. But start getting tested at age 50—depending on your family history and risk levels. And read this illuminating guide to learn what it's actually like to have prostate cancer.
Only older guys have penis problems
Don't assume that just because you are relatively young and healthy that your equipment won't have a failure every now and then. Though it is true that erectile dysfunction gets worse the older you get, an estimated 15% of men age 20 to 39 already have trouble in the bedroom. And for more solutions to your bedroom issues, check out the 8 Things Your Penis Is Telling You About Your Health.
Eating more protein means more muscle
Sorry fellas. Protein will only help you build muscle if you're strength training, too.
Most American guys are eating too much protein, around 80 to 90 grams a day, which is double the recommended amount—if you're active, try to hit one gram of protein for every pound of your target body weight.
Guys don't get breast cancer
Fact: Men have breast tissue—similar to what a pre-pubescent girl has—that can become cancerous. Around 1,500 male breast cancer diagnoses occur each year and an estimated 400 men die each year from the disease—so it's clearly nothing to scoff at. Risk factors include: being 60 years or older, family history, and obesity. To learn more about cancer risks, be sure to learn How Likely You Are to Get Cancer in Your Lifetime.
You must down protein after a workout
For the average gym goer, it's not essential to immediately mix up a big protein shake and slam it right after you get done lifting iron. You do need to keep levels of protein up if you are exercising vigorously a few times a week, but the idea that there's a specific window you must hit for maximum muscle growth has not been shown.
Cutting calories means weight loss
Just because you slash your daily calorie intake doesn't mean you will lose weight. In fact, too drastic of a calorie reduction can make your body think it's starving and therefore will try to hold on to calories and fat, nixing your weight loss plan.
Simply eat healthy, whole foods, and exercise vigorously three times a week. That said, before altering your lifestyle, you may want to learn Why Controlling Your Calories May Be Your Fountain of Youth.
Higher SPF sunscreen is best
Guys often feel the need to brush off putting on sunscreen, but skin cancer is most likely to pop up in men. But don't feel the need to slather on the highest SPF rated sunscreen you can find because though a higher number means slightly more protection, it's not much compared to the lower SPFs. A 60 will block about 98.3% of harmful rays, but a 30 still blocks 96.7%. And for more great knowledge, here are 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.
Low-carb beers won't give you a beer belly
Drinking lower-carb and light beers means you are taking in less calories and carbohydrates for each beer, but you are still consuming calories and nutrients and alcohol.
All of those can contribute to weight gain, especially energy-dense alcohol which is about on par with what fat packs, gram for gram, and the lighter taste may mean you will drink more over the night, negating any advantages.
More fiber means less chance of colon cancer
Downing massive amounts of Metamucil and beans is not going to help keep your colon from becoming cancerous, studies show, but it may keep your significant other from sharing your bed. A high-fiber diet is essential for good health and a healthy gut bacteria population, not for cancer prevention.
Weak bones only happen in women
Even though all of the late-night TV commercials push all sorts of supplements for supporting bone health in women, men can also get hit with osteoporosis later in life.
Risk factors for men include low testosterone, smoking, drinking too much, being inactive, and gastrointestinal disease. Keep your bones strong by eating healthy and working out regularly with free weights. And for more great advice, here are 10 Ways to Gain Muscle Fast.
Body heat is mostly lost through your head
Your mom always told you to put a hat on when you went out in the chilly winter weather—which is good advice. And even though a warm wool hat will definitely help keep you warm, the top of your head isn't acting like a chimney and exhausting all of your body's heat—it's lost from whatever part of your body is exposed to the cold air, not matter the location. And if you're looking for more ways to stay warm, check out these 12 Genius Ways to Stay Warm This Winter.
Men attempt suicide more often
It may seem like men would try to kill themselves more often as they are considered the more aggressive gender, but women actually are three times more likely to have tried to kill themselves.
However, here's an even more grim statistic: Men are more likely to succeed at the act of suicide—about 80% of deaths from suicide are from men—because they choose more deadly instruments.
Ginkgo biloba is a brain tonic
This supplement is often touted to help keep your brain healthy and your mental acuity sharp. But the positive affects shown in some recent studies were shown on people with Alzheimer's—so don't spend all of your hard-earned money on this herb yet, because subsequent studies on healthy adults found no brain-bettering properties. And for some great ways to boost your brainpower, here are 7 Ways to Boost Your Brain After 40.
Mom is to blame for your baldness
The myth that hair loss comes from your mother's side of the family is still stubbornly hanging around. While male pattern baldness is linked to hereditary reasons, it can be passed down from either side of the family, not just mom's.
Old guys are always weaker
OK, it is true that your bones will weaken and your muscles will wither as you age, but you can severely delay that loss of vitality by staying active. Old dudes won't necessarily weaker if they have kept up a serious and consistent routine in the gym, so don't stop challenging your body, no matter your age.
More shaving means more hair
Another oldie, but goodie, is the idea that the more you shave, the thicker and faster your hair will grow back. (Seinfeld, anyone?) But this is another false fact based on faulty observations—the hair you are shaving is the dead portion of the hair, so it has no effect on what happens to the living bit underneath the skin.
Gym rats can eat what they want
Lots of guys make their gym routine a way to justify their gluttonous eating habits, but those guys are still fat. You must exercise dietary control to keep (or get) a lean body and trim waist—it's simply fact. Going to the gym will help transform your body shape along with increasing your endurance and strength, but abs are always going to be made in the kitchen.
Depression is only for the weak
It's amazing that modern men still cling to the idea that crying and getting depressed are for wimps, but they do, and they are wrong. Depression is a disorder that hits both men and women. And for some helpful advice on combating depression, check out How These Famous Men Conquered Depression and Found Happiness.
A vasectomy will make you more vulnerable to disease
Some dudes think that getting your sperm tubes snipped will cause you to develop all sorts of other horrible ailments like heart disease, prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, and even obesity. But studies have shown that getting a vasectomy won't up your risk for any of these conditions (only dropping the chance of your partner coming down with a case of the babies), so you can cut away with confidence.
Sleeping in on weekends helps you catch up
You run hard all of the work week, staying at the office late and then hanging out with your buddies to the wee hours, and end up getting about five hours of sleep a night. Then the weekend comes and you snooze for 10 hours at a time, thinking it will make up for your weekly loss.
Not true. In fact, you are just messing up your natural sleep cycle and doing more harm to your body. Try to get from 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night—period.
Favorite foods aren't part of a healthy diet
Don't think that just because you've been put on (or put yourself on) a strict new diet to help whittle away your fat belly that you can't still have some of your favorite junk food. A good weight loss plan includes cheat meals to help you psychologically and physically. Just don't do it more than once a week.
You must be a gym rat to be healthy
Pressure to be lean and muscular like a movie star or cover model for a fitness magazine can be intense for some guys, which leads them to think they've got to be in the gym 7 days a week for hours. But, unless your job is a fitness model, to be healthy and strong you don't have to live at the gym.
Go three days a week for an hour each, mixing in resistance exercises with cardio.
Prostate probing must happen annually
When guys hit middle age you can cue the alien probe jokes. But even though prostate cancer and being checked for it (digitally) is no laughing matter, the reality is that you don't need to get checked every year when you turn 40, unless you are at high risk.
Vaccinations are for young men
Most dudes think of vaccinations as something for babies and sick people, and generally they are correct, but there are some injections that every one should be getting regardless of age or gender. Flu vaccinations are helpful for all and lessen any symptoms should you get the bug, and everyone should get a tetanus shot every 10 years. And once you get older (past 65) getting a pneumonia and shingles vaccine is a good idea.
Every man snores
Snoring is just what guys do, right?
Every now and then it's perfectly healthy for guys and girls to snore during the night, whether due to clogged airway from allergies or sickness, sleeping position, or just changes in the weather. But persistent and problematic snoring can be a sign of dangerous sleep disorders like sleep apnea, which ups your risk for developing heart disease and high blood pressure.
And if you're curious about why you're snoring, be sure to read up on The 5 Reasons You're Snoring Every Night—And How to Stop It.
Carbs aren't your friend
Fact: You need to eat carbs to keep up your energy levels. This is especially true if you are working out to help lose weight. You can time them though for optimum uptake—try at breakfast and after a workout.
You only use 10% of your brain
The granddaddy of all health myths, the idea that you only use 10% of your brain's capacity has lingered for years, even among some doctors.
But there is no evidence or study to give credence to this silly myth as we know that different parts of your brain are being accessed at all times and it's an energy hog—the brain is only 3% of our weight but uses 20% of our energy. And if you find yourself feeling low-energy, be sure to try out the 50 Ways to Become A Higher-Energy Person Immediately.
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