Column: Tune up to avoid health crashes


Commentary by Stephanie Cohen


Men, do you ever check under the hood of your car? It’s how you protect your investment, extend your vehicle’s life and performance and avoid crashes. But when it comes to checking under your own hood, your health, that is where many come up short.

Beyond the usual risk factors of obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes – there’s the dreaded hazard no one likes to talk about and happens to be my specialty: cancer.

The top three cancers in men are lung, prostate and colon cancers. Lung cancer has a strong environmental component: smoking. The other two often hinge on genetics. Having multiple relatives with cancer or one relative with multiple cancers are red flags.

Fear often keeps men from uncovering their risks. Many think that if they feel fine, it’s best to not look for trouble. What they may not realize is that finding something early may make a big difference in the stage when cancer is identified, and, ultimately, survival. With colon cancer, for instance, you can remove a growth and stop cancer from happening.

Others are concerned about the cost of health screenings, both money and time, which is why St.Vincent Fishers is hosting the Men’s Health Tune-Up from 7 to 11 a.m. on June 17. There will also be the chance to test drive a Tesla Model S and meet an Indiana Pacers player.

For risks with a strong genetic influence (like cancer), my advice is simple: Have regular health screenings, learn your family history and share it with your physician.

Stephanie Cohen, MS, LCGC, is genetic counselor at St.Vincent. For more information on genetic counseling, health screenings and the St.Vincent Men’s Health Tune-Up visit


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