Man flu and other myths

Myth: Only women get breast cancer
Both men and women have breast tissue – women just have more of it. This means it is possible for men to develop breast cancer. Approximately 100 Australian men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Ninety per cent of those men are over 50. Catching breast cancer early is the best way to ensure successful treatment, so look out for common symptoms such as a painless lump near the nipple, discharge from the nipple, or a change of shape (such as dimpling) of the pectoral area or nipple. If you think you have any of these symptoms make an appointment with your GP, or to find out more visit the Cancer Australia’s Breast cancer in men website.

Myth: Low-carb beer is the healthy choice
There are very few carbohydrates in beer to begin with. It is actually the alcohol content which affects how ‘healthy’ a beer is. Alcohol contains almost twice as many kilojoules per gram as carbohydrates, and it’s the kilojoules that produce a beer gut. A low-alcohol beer is healthier than a full-strength low-carb beer, and the healthiest choice of all is reducing the amount you drink.

Myth: Only women get the blues
Depression affects both men and women, the difference is in the way they respond to it. Women usually focus on their emotional state, whereas men will often take note of physical symptoms such as tiredness and weight loss without really considering whether they are feeling low. One in six men will experience depression in their lifetime, and the earlier you catch it the easier it is to fix. Depression can be as mild as a period of feeling down and lethargic, or severe enough to require medication. Depression is an illness, not a weakness, so it’s important to get professional help just like you would for any other sickness. If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, visit the Better health channel website and have a look at the symptoms checklist.

Myth: Impotence happens to everybody
Approximately 60 per cent of men aged 60 to 79 will experience impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction (ED). In 75 per cent of cases ED is a symptom of an underlying physical issue, such as heart disease or blocked arteries, so it important to visit your doctor. To find out more about the symptoms of and treatments for ED, visit the Impotence Australia website.

Myth: ‘Man flu’ is just an opportunist with a cold
The common cold can leave anyone feeling rotten, so why do men have a reputation for hamming it up? Until recently the only explanation for ‘man flu’ was that men, who often see themselves as the rock, the supporter and the family protector, can feel find it stressful to be incapacitated by illness. New research, however, shows that women have a much stronger immune reaction to rhinoviruses (the viruses that cause common colds), so men really are hit harder by colds, and do take longer to recover from them.