Health issues plague black male population

Black men are an endangered species, but not for reasons that may come to mind. According to the U.S. health statistics from 2003, black men live 7.1 years less than any other ethnic group, and have higher death rates.

For many black men, the list of potential health problems can be longer than the financial aid line in September. From prostate cancer to testicular cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease it is imperative that black men stay informed and be proactive about their health.

Heart disease and prostate cancer are the two leading causes of death for men ages 24 – 51.

There is still is no real explanation why this particular group has the highest risk. But most physicians say that it can be attributed to the lack of knowledge that this age group has about their health.

Fortunately, the majority of these problems only affect you if you evade your annual check-up and consistently maintain a poor diet.

James Crawford, M.D., lead researcher at the University of Maryland Medical

Center, said, “African American men usually develop prostate cancer earlier than white Americans, but are diagnosed with it later making their morality rate much higher than any other ethnic group.”

Many black men are not aware of the health risks they face by just being black.

“One of every eight African American men will die from the disease in his life time,” Crawford said.

Robert Dorsey, a 22-year-old early childhood education student from Los Angeles, said his grandfather died from prostate cancer at 61.

“I’ve always gotten regular check ups but they’re more important now since my grandfather passed,” said Dorsey.

Not only is prostate cancer finding its way into the lives of many young men, so is high blood pressure.

According to the American Journal of Hypertension, high blood pressure affects one in four American adults.

Among blacks it occurs more often, at an earlier age, and is usually more severe compared to other cases.

Dorsey also mentioned that he used to have high blood pressure before he changed the way he ate.

Black men are also a population that is vastly under studied and hard to reach.

Doresy said, “It is not something that we think about. Most guys only notice a problem with their health if they can see it. The outside is what they think about, not the inside.”

Crawford said he believes that these men usually tend to use hospital emergency rooms for their primary care and fail to spend the relatively low cost for intervention now.

The most important way to combat these health problems is to be conscious of what you eat and get regular check-ups.

No one is immune to these things and it will cost you less money in the long run if you take the small precautions now.

The smartest thing would be to catch theses diseases before they get complicated. There are local clinics where you can receive a check-up that include both prostate exam and blood pressure tests.

Student Health Services will accommodate any interested student with an exam. Off-campus clinics such as Healthy Solutions Inc. and Comprehensive Community & Family Services Inc. offer the same exams as well.

Contact Ariel F. Towns at