Some men take better care of their cars than they take care of themselves. At least that’s the example Rodrigo D. Cantu, MD, uses to get a message across to his reluctant male patients.
“I tell men they get the oil changed in the car and rotate the tires every few thousand miles,” says Dr. Cantu, who has joined the Hill Country Memorial Medical Group in Family Practice. “That’s basic maintenance. As men, we should do the same for ourselves. At least once a year do a general checkup.”
That “routine maintenance for men” should include cholesterol checks, cancer screenings, colon and prostate checks at minimum. Dr. Cantu is sympathetic to the cultural norms that prevent his male patients from coming into the office.
“As a man, you are taught to tough it out, suck it up. A lot of guys minimize their situation. I feel OK, so there must be nothing wrong. They only go by symptoms. If I’m not bleeding, I’m OK.”
He also concedes there is “fear of the unknown.”
“There is a little bit of fear of being poked and prodded, but the most fear is what if I find something wrong, how can I handle that? That goes for most people, but men are especially good at minimizing and brushing things off.”
Of course, the best prescription for any man is to take steps to “create healthy.” Dr. Cantu recommends a regular routine of preventive measures that can be easily accomplished by most reasonably active people.
In addition to an annual checkup, those include:
-Regular exercise outside of work exercise
“Work activity is not enough. Men need aerobic activity and weight training. Those hold many benefits, including burning calories, maintaining weight, and from a mental health standpoint, reducing stress.”
-Eat less fat in the diet
“This can be done by leaning more toward leaner cuts of meat. Eating less fat leads to fewer calories in their diet. Those are really the basic things that guys can do.”
Having grown up in the Rio Grande Valley and seen practice in South Texas medical clinics, Dr. Cantu has a familiarity with the specific health needs of the Hispanic population. He notes that
demographic experiences a higher incidence of diabetes and obesity, due to both genetics and lifestyle.
“This is absolutely preventable,” he notes. “A traditional diet is higher in fats and carbs, which are traditional foods in Texas. The impact of cutting back on carbs and increasing green, leafy vegetables can have an effect on disease.”
When men–or any patient–do come in, Dr. Cantu believes in speaking to them in plain language, explaining the issue, describing the treatment, and demystifying the medications.
“If someone can walk out of the office with a better understanding of the disease and why we are taking the steps we are taking, they are more likely to be compliant with the treatment.”
Of course, it all needs to start with a man walking into the primary care provider’s office.
For more information:
HCM Medical Clinic–Fredericksburg
Perry-Feller Professional Building
205 W. Windcrest
Fredericksburg, TX 78624