Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've got a cousin called Kevin

Fantastic news for men in Australia. No, it's not Shane Warne's victory with the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. But their new prime minister Kevin Rudd has announced a men's health policy to coincide with this year's Men's Health week. Blokes will be encouraged to have check-ups at their GPs and money has been made available for prostate cancer, bowel cancer and suicide prevention. Rudd, of course, is leader of the Labor Party (never mind the spelling, look at the policies.)

Now, we do have some of these things already in the UK thanks to our own correctly-spelt Labour government. Indeed, from the gender duty to bowel cancer screening to the minimum wage and trade union rights, this government has done a fair bit to improve the health of men but what we don't always have here is a sense of a coordinated policy. It doesn't cost a lot of money, it's simply a question of political will. The perfect way to get a Labour government that's in danger of losing its direction back on the rails again. Come on Gordon, it's time to copy Kevin.

Let's name the real guilty men

Yesterday at the mock trial staged by the Men's Health Forum to kick-off Men's Health Week, Man was found guilty of crimes against his own health. Forget the attitudes of health professionals, forget social attitudes, forget the way we bring up boys, forget the genetic factors. No, it is all our own fault. Guilty

Who were the fools responsible for this verdict? A 'jury' of health professionals, policymakers, NGOs, politicians and journalists who ignored the expert evidence. You can read about that evidence here but let's talk about real cases - the cases of men on the malehealth website.

Take John Walker and the prostate cancer that nearly killed him: I told my GP, I respected his decision, but if I'd followed his advice I'd probably be dead. Or Paul and his violent childhood: I remember traumatic events from my childhood and very little else. Only a chump would say that these men are to blame for what happened to them.

If we really want to name the guilty men it should be the members of the jury that allowed this terrible miscarriage of justice. This verdict condemns Man to the same rotten deal he's always had from the NHS.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bond or Brent? Sherlock or Spidey? Who would you put in the dock?

My web-posts are like buses - you don't see one for weeks etc etc. Anyway, for Men's Health Week next week, the Men's Health Forum will be putting man on trial. Why? Because of one simple fact: men live shorter, less healthy lives than women.

Who is responsible for this? Men themselves? Or something else?

Which man would you put in the dock charged with neglect of his own health? James Bond, Spiderman, David Brent, Indiana Jones, Inspector Morse, Sherlock Holmes, Phil Mitchell, Rocky, Jim Royle, Homer Simpson. Or someone else.

VOTE NOW (and read more about the debate) here.

Stone age attitude to nutrition research?

There was a lot of interest last week in the story suggesting that a 'Stone age' diet is good for your heart. The study, by the Karolinska Institute, was criticised on the NHS Choices site for being relatively small with a high drop-out rate. Indeed, says the site, 'complete data' was available for only six people. None of which was in the media, of course, who were mainly interested in printing pix of Raquel Welch.

Now I like this section of the NHS site and I'm all in favour of the public knowing exactly what research is behind the headline. We bang on about this a lot of malehealth too. But in this case, while the research may not have been great the science behind it is worth considering. An exclusively caveman style diet would deprive you of key nutrients like calcium so while we wouldn't advocate that but keeping your diet simple with plenty of fresh food is good for you - and you could come away from the NHS Choices thinking this is no more than a fad diet. The problem with such a diet is that it is cheap, easy and does nothing for the profits of the greedy fast-food and processed foods industry. The government has frequently been accused of pandering to big business. Don't tell me they'd doing this in their nutrition advice too.