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20 for 20: What action can we take to help men and boys live longer?

Australian men die six years younger than women. Here’s a few more sobering facts to serve at your International Men’s Day 2020 breakfast, lunch and dinner celebrations.

  • Every day, nearly 50 men a day under the age of 75 die in ways that could have been avoided through better preventive health. 
  • Tobacco use is linked with 400 deaths a week, with men accounting for 3 in 5 of the lives lost.
  • Poor nutrition is linked to 30 male deaths a day. 
  • The rate of death, disease and poor health associated with dietary risks – measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) – is twice as high in men than women (18 per 1,000 people in males and 8.5 per 1,000 in females).
  • Cancer kills more than 500 men a week, with men being 50% more likely to die by cancer than women. 
  • More than 80 male deaths a week are attributable to alcohol and illicit drug use and men experience around three quarters of the burden of diseaselinked to alcohol and drugs.
  • Men and boys are less likely to be immunised against some specific health issues than women. This includes HPV (human papillomavirus) and influenza.
  • Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in Australia. On average, 50 people a day die from coronary heart disease.
  • Four out of five people who die of heart disease before the age of 65 are men. In total, five men aged under 65 die from heart disease every week in Australia.

Ways to improve the lives and health of men

So how can we reduce or improve these statistics? The peak body for the men’s health sector, the Australian Men’s Health Forum, places a strong emphasis on developing strategies that work for men: male-friendly services that screen, reach and teach men in ways that are more likely to have an impact.  

For example, Prick + Pint, a health program delivered to blokes in pub settings, asks men to bring along a recent blood test and learn about developing better health habits.

“Our big message is little things make a big difference. Small things can lead to big changes,” says founding GP, Dr Rebecca McGowan.


In NSW, the Men’s Health Education Rural Van, is set up to be discovered - and utilised - along the pathways frequented by men and to provide free health checks.

Men’s Health DownUnder is a pharmacy group providing home-delivered solutions with pharmacist support for men relating to all matters below the belt. 

Go where men are

Increasingly, health service providers and specialists are going where men are and men's health bodies are encouraging blokes to look after themselves in the same way they would take care of their car.

The Australian Men’s Shed Association developed a health promotion program called Spanner in the Works, designed to provide Australian men with a ‘service and maintenance’ schedule.

In WA, the Regional Men’s Health Initiative has developed an interactive wellbeing and health awareness listening tool that is also themed around the servicing of a vehicle.

Participants have their waist line (chassis) and blood pressure (oil pressure) measured and are asked 10 questions that help to identify stress levels and coping skills (shock absorbers). If the participants have one or more of the listed checks out of tune, however slight, they are then given some simple pointers to help them retune.


What action can we take to help men and boys live longer?

Take this question to your International Men’s Day get-togethers before, on or after International Men’s Day on November 19, 2020.

Let’s get Australia talking about men!


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