Top 3 questions – Men's Health Week with Dr Lucas de Toca (Part 1)

Hear from Dr Lucas de Toca talk about whether men are more susceptible to certain illnesses or conditions compared to women, and when men should start regular health checks and screening tests.


Hello. I'm Dr Lucas De Toca, from the Department of Health. And today to mark Men's Health Week, we're gonna be talking about Men's Health. I'm in Ngunnawal Dawaarung or Ngunnawal countries. I want to Acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land.

Men's Health every year acknowledges the importance of raising awareness and having conversations about health, both physical, mental, and emotional health issues that impact men. Men, in general, are not very good, huge generalisation, but tend to be not as good to talk about the issues that affect us, to seek medical care early and Men's Health Week wants to support creating an environment in which men and boys are empowered, supported, and positive to discuss the issues that affect us. The theme this year is building healthy environments for men and boys, and it tries to talk about that holistic concept of health and the fact that speaking out about issues that impact us is the best way to start seeking healthier behaviours and healthier outcomes. There's a lot of information on men's health resources, statistics, events that mark their week around the country on So, pretty straightforward, where you can find more information of these, on these.

There's a range of conditions that impact men in different ways that they impact women. The leading cause for mortality among males is coronary heart disease. So, cardiac health is a big impact on men's health. It's the biggest single cause of mortality with over 10,000 men dying each year from heart disease. There's other chronic conditions that have a high impact on mortality men including lung cancer, prostate cancer, stroke, and dementia. But in addition to those like, typically chronic diseases that impact men, men also suffer from other debilitating illnesses that might not have direct impact on mortality, but they do decrease the ability for people to have a healthy and positive and engaged in life. Musculoskeletal issues like lower back pain and other debilitating conditions are also quite prevalent in men, and it's important to raise awareness over them. Injury is and that's accidental injury, or injury resulting from risky behaviour both motor vehicle or others are also more prevalent in men. There could be a lot of societal explanations as to why that happens, including some of the pressure that society puts in boys, particularly in young men, to take more risks. But it's also important to acknowledge that accidental injury is a significant cause of disease and death among men. Mental health deserves a mention as well, of course, while the rates of mental illness between among men are not higher than among women, unfortunately, men are three times more likely to die of suicide than women are. And sadly, this week alone, 45 men will die from suicide. So again, it's important to note that these things are happening.

Men are also more prone to excessive drug use, including smoking habits So, that tends to impact the male population at a higher level, including other drugs of abuse beyond smoking. And that's so important that we have conversations about being engaged with the health care system. Again, pretty broad generalisation of a gender binary, which is not always helpful, but the men generally tend to seek medical help less than women and wait longer to get a checkup. So, a big recommendation for all of us men, young men, and boys, is to make sure that you engage with a health service, that you have a regular GP, a regular primary health care nurse, which often people don't get until later in life. You don't need if you're a young person, you don't need bloods every year, you need a very significant lab test every year, but having a medical checkup, which can be just a conversation about how things are going with your provider, at least every year is a good way to start. So, to make sure that we can start doing things to build a healthier outcome and reduce the risk of chronic disease. As men get older, particularly from 40 and over, there's a number of health checks that are recommended and they vary in terms of frequency with ages. So, the older people get the more tests and the more frequent tests are. We're talking about annual cardiac health checks, checks for kidney health to see how your renal function is going, assessments for risk of stroke, a blood glucose test for the risk of developing diabetes and others that do increase as men get older. So, there's additional tests when people become 50, and 60, and 70. The best thing you can do apart from checking the resources that are linked in and the Department of Health website, of course, is just talk to your GP. Having and engaging with a regular GP from a young age will make sure that you're up-to-date with whatever health checks that are recommended for your age group and for your personal and individual circumstances, because of course, all of these recommendations are for general population, but depending on your personal history and family history, there might be other tests that are recommended for you. So, talk to your GP is just the simplest, but also most effective advice 'cause the GP and primary health care team can guide you on things that you can do, which is not just physical health checkups, but also refer you if you need support with mental health issues, social, or emotional well-being issues that may be creeping up and you're not recognising as an issue until they become a real problem. So many, many young men don't have a regular GP, more so than young women. So, one thing that you can go out and do right now is to try to get a GP to start having these conversations.

This video is part of a two-part mini-series on Men's Health to acknowledge Men's Health Week. So, please stay tuned through our social media channels and for more info on these and another video to cover similar issues. Thank you.

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Top 3 questions: 

  • What is Men's Health Week? 
  • How can men build healthier outcomes and reduce the risk of chronic disease? 
  • How can men better engage with Australia's health services? 
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