Often when we hear the word stress we think about things like a hectic day at work or an argument with a loved one, but there are actually many different types of stress. Stress is how your brain reacts to a specific stimulus or situation, and that reaction can trigger changes in your body—which can be good or bad. Below are two new studies that seek to better understand how stress impacts our overall health.
Eating Triggers Stress Hormone in Overweight & Obese Men
Even the simple act of eating puts a certain amount stress on the body, but having a few extra pounds may actually increase that amount. Researchers in Australia recently found that men with more body fat have a higher stress response after eating, which may translate to long-term health risks.
For the purpose of the study 36 men over 50 were asked to eat an average lunch consisting of 22% protein, 53% carbs, and 25% fat, after which researchers measured their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When compared with their leaner counterparts, men who were even moderately overweight or obese had higher cortisol levels, which study author Dr. Anne Turner said may significantly impact their health over time.
“If overweight or obese men’s bodies react this way after every meal, they may be at increased risk of developing stress-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in the long term,” said Dr. Turner.
Stress and Anxiety May Impact Liver Health
Think you liver is safe from stress? Think again. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that frequent stress and anxiety can increase the risk of liver disease and may lead to a shorter lifespan. The association between increased stress and liver health was seen even when factors such as diet, weight, and alcohol and tobacco use were taken into account. While Dr. Tom Russ and his team agree further study is needed to explore the relationship, he speculated there may be an underlying link such as inflammation.
A healthy mind and body are two things we should never take for granted. Regular checkups and health screenings can go a long way toward safeguarding health and reducing the risk of disease and early death for both men and women, but the truth is that men are far less likely to visit the doctor on a regular basis. In fact, only 54% of men remember the last time they saw their physician, according to a new survey by Orlando Health.
This month as we focus on men’s health, consider scheduling a physical exam (or reminding your dad, husband, or son to do the same) to assess your overall health and discuss any issues or concerns you may have—and don’t be surprised if your doc orders one or more of the following tests, which are typically recommended for guys every year or few years starting in early adulthood:
- Blood Pressure: High blood pressure (or hypertension) affects nearly one-third of American adults and is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Because it is “largely a symptomless condition” according to the American Heart Association, regular screenings are important for early detection.
- Blood Tests & Urinalysis: Blood and urine tests are used to screen for various illnesses and diseases—including diabetes, impaired kidney function, or thyroid issues—before symptoms can occur.
- EKG: An electrocardiogram records the heart’s electrical activity and looks for any abnormalities. This test is important because heart disease is the leading cause of death among men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Rectal Exam: Your doctor may order a rectal exam to screen for hemorrhoids or lower rectal problems as well as colon and/or prostate cancer.
- PSA Blood Test: Prostate Specific Antigen (or PSA) is produced by the prostate, and levels are higher when there is an abnormality such as an infection or cancer.
- Testosterone Screening: Symptoms of low testosterone include a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and changes in mood. This screening typically involves a brief analysis to determine symptoms, followed by a simple blood test.
Visit www.menshealthnetwork.org for a more comprehensive list of which tests are important, how often you should get them, and at what age they are recommended.