The two leading causes of death in men are heart disease and cancer. Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.

Keeping dad in tip-top shape

Dad Son Chopping Vegetables

Father’s Day is next weekend and dads across this country will be celebrated. Can we pause for a minute and look at some of the health and chronic disease risks that our fathers face? There is no magic to staying well as we age. Sometimes adults get busy with life and work, and let things fall by the wayside.

The two leading causes of death in men are the same for women; 24.6 percent of deaths will be from heart disease and 23.5 percent of deaths will be from some form of cancer. Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.

A recent study from the University of North Carolina has found a link between diet and aggressive prostate cancer. More than 175,000 men are diagnosed each year from prostate cancer. More than 25,000 men will die from prostate cancer each year. (Source:

The researchers found a great risk for aggressive prostate cancer when the diet of the 1,800 men in the study ate more saturated fats. All of the men included in the study had prostate cancer. Where do the saturated fats come from? Fatty red meats, poultry skin, coconut oil, whole milk and cream, whole-milk cheeses and yogurt.

Maintaining good health involves regular upkeep, just as you regularly maintain your car or truck:

  • Schedule regular doctor appointments to keep an eye on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, lab values, and weight
  • Manage stress in a healthy way
  • Get a good night of sleep to reduce chronic disease risk – six to eight hours is best
  • Strive for 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise each week
  • Drink plenty of water each day
  • Keep fruits, vegetables and whole grains front and center when planning meals
  • Select lean protein choices that are low in saturated fats like fish, poultry, and dried beans and peas for a vegetarian option
  • Choose healthy unsaturated fats such as oils, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.