“In our effort to help educate our site visitors, this is part of our continuous effort to educate the black community about health and wellness and the risks associated with not exercising and taking care of ourselves. To this end we are proud to introduce the “Check Up” column featuring Dr. Darryl A. Hill, MD.”
Gary A. Johnson, Founder and Publisher – Black Men In America.com
This page will serve as an archives section for all of Dr. Hill’s articles.
CHECK UP featuring Dr. DARRYL A. HILL
Darryl A. Hill, M.D., is a practicing Internist in Laurel, MD. Dr. Hill graduated from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1995 and has been in practice for over 22 years. He completed a residency at University of Maryland Medical System and is board certified in Internal Medicine.
Socioeconomics and the Health of Young Black Men
A message to Parents, Adults and our young MEN.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a group of young men about the importance of good health. During my preparation for this discussion it became quite clear to me how different the health issues are for our young men. We are all aware of the issues of violence in our society that unfortunately affect African American men. But for some reason this year it became clear to me just how significant socioeconomic factors impact the lives and health of young black men. What concerns me is that these factors do not take the time to discriminate against young men of color. Meaning, irrespective of the background of the individual, to some degree he will be subject to the negative consequences of being a black male. The real question is, how severe will the consequences be. Will it be minor or life threatening, will it be a bump in the road or lead to bodily injury, incarceration or even death. Adults, especially parents need to be aware of this situation as we prepare and then allow our young men to enter this world independently. Realistically, we are doing a poor job as a group preparing our youth to manage this challenge. The first thing we need to do is have a discussion about this issue.
It was a pleasure to notice how the young men in the audience listened attentively as we discussed topics such as violence, drug abuse, choice of friends, the school to prison pipeline, sexually transmitted infections, the neighborhoods we live in, depression, suicide, relationships with our father and the single parent household. Sprinkled in here we could not avoid talking about real medical conditions such as obesity, testicular cancer, diabetes, sexual transmitted infections and HIV. On the other side of the life spectrum, although important it became clear that items such as heart disease, prostate cancer and hypertension may not be as important to our young men at this time. They first had to earn the right to be at risk to these chronic conditions by first surviving the challenges of their youth. One thing is clear, if you are looking to climb out of this unfortunate condition a good education is essential. To say that education is the key is an understatement. Given the challenges we face in our school system, it becomes essential that all of our young men find ways to succeed in school. This is because their lives depend on this. This is even more important given our current climate in this country.
As I write this article it is hard to avoid the feelings of my own mother who had to raise three young sons in the community we lived in as children. When I magnify this by the millions of mothers across this land over the years, it becomes clear why many of the challenges our communities face are so perpetual.
It is no surprise to most that violence is a major challenge to the health of young men less than thirty five. Accidents, suicide and HIV are also important factors. One can surmise that it is important to make sure that our young men are educated about this. This requires adults such as parents, mothers, fathers, mentors, coaches and our communities to have that important conversation.
Mental health continues to be looked at closely and significantly affects men of color. Studies show that African American men have some of the highest rates of depression. Factors that contribute to this include racism and unemployment. Men will need to become comfortable seeking out the assistance of mental health professionals. By doing so we can finally begin to manage and treat the burden of mental health disorders that are present in our communities.
It is interesting how the types of diseases change for black men soon after we hit thirty five. At this time the incidence of heart disease begins to increase along with cancer, diabetes, kidney and lung disease. Some may suggest that by the time we are approaching the half century mark our bodies are falling victim to the comforts of life. The hamburgers, hotdogs, snacks and sedentary lifestyle finally are beginning to catch up by this point.
We all have heard about the importance of exercise and diet. Now is the time to live it and teach it to those around it. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are the best medications one could want. This is especially important because many of us want to avoid taking medications, unless they are absolutely needed.
So in conclusion, make sure to remind all men but especially our young men to stay safe in their neighborhoods, make good decisions, eat vegetables, get plenty of exercise and to get a good education.
Yours in Health,
Feel free to contact Dr. Hill by email for any questions regarding this article.
The Health of the African American Male (Posted March 9, 2017)
By Dr. Darryl A. Hill FACP
Health is defined as a state of being sound in body or mind, or free of disease. Being healthy allows you to do the things in life that are important to you. This would include spending time with family and friends, going to work, and traveling to name a few things. All people want to be healthy and live a long life. African Americans make up twelve percent of the population and currently are the second largest racial and ethnic group in the United States. African American men suffer from some of the worse health outcomes for all groups of people in this country. Why is this? What is it that we can do to improve our health?
Naturally, there are complex reasons that help to explain this situation. Reasons that have existed for as long as we have been a part of this country. Socioeconomic disparities, inequitable access, educational challenges should be a good start to explain the former. Surprisingly, when you control for education and economics significant differences still exist. The life expectancy of an African American male is 72.3 years of age as compared to that of a white male at 76.7.
For all people in this country, heart disease continues to be a leading cause of death. This is followed by cancer, lung infection, stroke and diabetes. For African American men, homicide is also included on this list. As we all age, cancer continues to be something we all try to avoid. At the very least, we do all we can to prevent and if needed diagnose it early. Doing so will give one a chance to survive and maintain their quality of life. The following cancers continue to be the most common cancer for men: prostate, lung and colon cancer. For women, breast, lung and colon cancer continue to be the most common. Testing is available to help, but is only beneficial if we are taking advantage of the procedure. Knowing the risks and benefits are essential.
Most believe that our lifestyles and behaviors continue to be key factors that help us live healthy lives. Our diet and exercise plays a significant role in helping us live long lives. In addition, our genetics also play a role in our health. Let’s also not forget that we need to take advantage of routine examinations, screening tests and controlling our cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure.
It is important for us to realize that healthcare is changing. More than ever the relationship with your doctor is important. This doctor patient relationship has changed over time. Now more than ever it is a partnership. With the internet and technology many already have the information they need to help make decisions. With the amount of information available, there is a need to still make sure you are making the correct decision.
As we continue we plan to discuss health topics that will help to keep you informed and healthy. As a society we are living longer. We all hope for that quality of life and happiness in our golden years. The goal here will be to help you understand your health better and to know what tests and when can help make a difference in your life. I look forward to learning and growing with you as we start this journey.
Yours in Health,
Darryl A. Hill, M.D. FACP
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