Men’s Health – Ask a Pharmacist with Vincent Dempsey

Life Pharmacy’s Vincent Dempsey tackles some commonly asked questions about men’s health – featured in the Irish Independent’s ‘Mother & babies’ supplement 7 November 2018.

Movember is upon us once again, which signals the time to put down your razor. But what most people see as a great excuse not to shave is actually a really important movement to highlight men’s health. The Movember Foundation promotes the importance of testicular and prostate cancers as well as highlighting men’s mental health. Men are often slow to visit their GP or talk to a pharmacist regarding healthcare issues. Discussing and identifying a men’s health problem as early as possible could save your life.

What are the most important aspects to consider about diet?

Education is a key factor to healthy eating, so people know what to eat and also what not to eat. We all know that we should eat freshly prepared meals made with fresh ingredients. Men should limit the intake of foods high in salt and fat. Whether you choose to follow this advice or not it is still a good idea to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals, I recommend a good quality multivitamin like Pharmaton which ticks all the boxes.

With cold and flu season upon us again, it is a good idea to give yourself a headstart. To help boost your immune system, promote everyday health and wellbeing and to help deal with stress I would recommend Quest Immune Biotix, which has a combination of vitamin D3, minerals and probiotics proven to support immune function and increase resistance to disease and infections, as well as Natures Aid Zinc and C lozenges. In terms of alcohol, the HSE recommend that men can have up to 17 standard drinks in a week. Your main target should be not to have more than this. Drinks should be spaced out over the week, with two to three alcohol free days per week.

What is the recommended amount of exercise for men?

We should all try to exercise five days a week for 30 mins a day. Most people should be able to do some sort of exercise, which is appropriate for their age, fitness and health condition. However it can be hard to find the time to fit exercise into our lives. Developing a routine is difficult but really important. Exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Even just moving more during your day like taking the stairs instead of using the escalator or lift is a very simple change that can have a big impact.

Many men do exercise regularly. To help busy sportsmen I recommend a magnesium supplement such as Quest Synergistic Magnesium, which is great for muscle recovery while Quest Coenzyme Q10’s benefits include enhancing exercise performance.

How can I look after my prostate?

Prostate cancer affects one in eight men in Ireland yet there is no established screening program. It is the second highest cancer in men. Prostate cancer affects mostly men in older age groups and is rare in men under 50 years of age. The chance of developing prostate cancer is significantly higher in men who have a close relative with prostate cancer; the risks are higher if the relative was diagnosed before the age of 60. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor. It is recommended that all men over 50 should be checked regularly by their GP, which can be monitored by doing a PSA test on a blood sample addition to the traditional method.

What can I do to help boost my fertility?

It is estimated that in about 30% to 40% of couples who cannot conceive, the infertility is because of the man. Approximately one in five Irish couples struggle with fertility issues and the reasons can be multi-factorial. Links have been established between male infertility and diet. There is evidence that zinc plays a positive role in normal fertility and reproduction and I recommend Quest Synergistic Zinc. The mineral selenium is also important for normal sperm production so I would suggest Quest Synergistic Selenium.

Should I be concerned about testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is a relatively uncommon cancer. About 170 men in Ireland are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year. Unlike most other cancers however, the majority of testicular cancer occurs in men under 45 years. The good news is that if testicular cancer is detected early, it is very treatable and curable. Men should regularly check their testicles to make sure there is no sign of abnormal growth or physical changes. If you are unaware of how to do this a very easy guide is available on cancer.ie.

How can I look after my mental health?

A broken leg is a physical condition and is obvious. A mental health condition is no different in terms of necessity also requires medical treatment than the broken leg, however a mental health problem it is not obvious to other people. Mental health problems still have a stigma and some men are still slow to seek medical advice. A problem shared is a problem halved might not be 100% accurate but there is definitely some truth to it. As advised by the Movember Foundation, men should be encouraged to talk to friends, their GP or their pharmacist.

Vincent Dempsey is the new owner of the well-established Life Pharmacy in Rathmines, Dublin, where he has worked for over 10 years. He and his team pride themselves on providing a friendly welcoming atmosphere to all their customers and patients. The pharmacy specialises in problem skin and custom affordable hand-made orthotics and provides other services like flu vaccination, emergency contraception and 24-hour blood pressure monitoring in the private consultation room.

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