Americans ignoring the recommended age for these important health checks

·3-min read

You're never too young to get your health checked, but the majority of Americans think they are.

Over six out of 10 Americans admit they have "no idea" what's the recommended age for their first cholesterol check, according to a new study conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Olympus.

The survey of 2,000 Americans found that a mere 14% identified 35 as the correct age to get a cholesterol screening, as recommended by U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

The average male survey respondent was also hypothetically several years "late" for his recommended first urologist visit, saying 43 was the right age for this appointment - while healthcare organizations like Cleveland Clinic actually recommend a first check at age 40.

Only 38% of male respondents knew that medical experts recommend men have their first prostate cancer screening at age 55.

That's especially significant when one considers it's the second most common form of cancer in men globally, according to latest worldwide cancer data from the World Cancer Research Fund.

Conducted in honor of Men's Health Month, the study also revealed nearly seven in 10 respondents "dropped the ball" on their health in the past year by putting off scheduled appointments they know are important to their health.

The 46% of respondents who canceled or rescheduled a doctor's appointment in this period said their healthcare provider required them to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet vanity may play a role in deferring checkups as well, as results also revealed that 62% of respondents were more likely to put off seeing a doctor for an issue that made them feel "old.

A slightly higher proportion (64%) said the same about health concerns that they thought of as "taboo," or were uncomfortable discussing with their doctor.

But the survey respondents suggest procrastinating on preventative care may have consequences. Over a third (36%) reported that they'd received a "surprise diagnosis" for an issue or condition that could have been avoided if they'd seen a doctor sooner.

"There are so many supposedly 'taboo' health issues, particularly for men, that we might not realize are common until we start to discuss them with others," said Dr. Jed Kaminetsky, Clinical Assistant Professor at NYU Medical Center and a Board-Certified Urologist at University Urology in New York City. "Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, also known as enlarged prostate, is a key example. BPH is very common, affecting  80% of men over 50 at some point in their life, and with this condition, men have difficulty emptying their bladders, which means they have to visit the bathroom much more than usual. It's a very bothersome condition, but it can be easily treated with non-surgical options that improve quality of life without compromising sexual function."

The survey demonstrated that talking about health issues we'd rather ignore can actually have a positive impact.

For 76% of respondents, hearing that someone close to them was diagnosed with a condition similar to what they're experiencing would make them more likely to seek out screening.

Nearly six in 10 respondents have a man in their life who suffers from frequent urination, which can be a symptom of BPH, and yet only 32% have discussed the issue with this person.

"This Men's Health Month, there's no reason to be reticent when talking with your loved ones, and your doctor, about your health issues. These conversations can help reveal the best treatment options for improving your quality of life," Dr. Kaminetsky added.

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