Guys, when was the last time your dad talked to you about health? Such as health talks discussing covering cancer screenings for men or how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Was it recently, or has it been rarely or never? Discussions between men and their sons on health are about as common as seeing the Goodyear blimp floating in the sky.
Survey finds men discussing health topics with sons is uncommon
Most men will say they have discussed the weather, sports, or hobbies like golf or fishing with their dad but, discussions on health were rare. This is not surprising as a 2017 Cleveland Clinic survey posed this question to determine what percent of dads have talked to their sons about health. The survey included over 500 American men age 18 or older who had sons or were father figures to a boy. Of these participants, two-thirds (62 percent) stated their father or father figure had not talked to them about health topics. In addition, almost half (47 percent) were unaware of their family health history until adulthood.
Men are tight-lipped regarding health issues or changing lifestyle habits to prevent them. Fathers fail to talk to their sons about what annual health exams they need, sex, and urological health. The survey found that about 35 percent of dads have discussed with their sons getting annual health exams, 28 percent had discussions on sex, and the lowest of all was only 23 percent of dads talked to sons about urological health.
Regarding urological health, testicular cancer primarily strikes young men ages 15 to 35. Unfortunately, many dads may not know this information, but if they do, educating their sons about performing monthly testicular self-exams while showering can save their lives.
Another urological cancer young men should know about is prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer diagnosis and death in American men. Screening for this disease should begin at age 40, when cancer can be more aggressive and deadly. Talking about prostate cancer, learning the symptoms, and understanding risk factors, are all important health talks for dads and their sons.
Key findings from the survey
The goal of the survey was to break the silence between dads and sons on health matters. It gave guidance for dads on beginning a conversation with their sons on issues concerning their health.
A few surprising findings from this survey show the discrepancies between different generational gaps and approaches when it comes to dads talking about health issues with sons:
- Sons of younger dads from the Millennial generation had more health discussions (84 percent) than sons of Baby Boomers (48 percent).
- Up to 32 percent of dads stated the main reason why health discussions were not disclosed to their sons was to not worry them or their families.
- Of the dads (85 percent) chose to talk about health issues with their sons and started this conversation before their sons turned age 16.
Fathers play a vital role in raising sons. For example, fathers can teach sons to respect elders and authority figures, how to catch a football, and how to drive a car safely.
But fathers are also vital for discussing difficult topics and keeping their sons healthy and well. These discussions can start as early as preschool by teaching sons to wear a helmet when riding a bike or to try out healthy foods. By adolescence, dads should warn sons of the dangers of illegal drug and tobacco product use. And by the time their sons graduate from high school, discussions on health screenings, family health history, and how to prevent chronic diseases are invaluable life lessons as these young men enter adulthood.
Men’s health matters, and dads, who live a healthy lifestyle, will be their son’s best healthy role models to emulate.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.