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Men: Health tips for your 20s

Focused on Health - August 2013

by Adelina Espat

20s men cancerStaying in fighting shape is one of your best defenses against cancer and other diseases. Use these tips to help you look and feel your best in your 20s.

Living the fast (food) life

PROBLEM: You may be eating fast food because it’s cheap and easy. You may even have the metabolism to burn unwanted calories. But, you’re not powering up with the nutrients you need to keep your body and mind healthy today, and later in life.

FIX: The better choice? Learn to whip up a few simple, healthy meals. And, use our cancer -fighting foods list to fill your grocery cart with healthier options. We’ve also got a quick guide that’ll teach you how to decode food labels.

Sex, vaccines and HPV

PROBLEM: Most sexually active men will get the human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives. This sexually transmitted disease can cause penile, anal and head and neck cancers in men.

FIX: Protect your body from HPV. One way is by getting the HPV vaccine. You can get the vaccine up to age 26. It protects you from the HPV types that cause most genital warts and anal cancers.

You also can reduce your risk of HPV infection by staying in a monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. Condom use reduces your chances of getting infected, but it doesn’t fully protect you against HPV.

men preventionToo much booze, you lose

PROBLEM: Men are more likely to be binge drinkers than women. That’s bad news because drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases your chances of developing cancer. Yet, other research suggests that a little red wine may help prevent cancer.

FIX: Until more is known, drink alcohol in moderation. That means no more than two drinks or less per day. Check out our drink guide to get the low-down on how much is too much as well as a list of low-calorie drink options.

Snuff out cigarettes

PROBLEM: More men die from lung cancer each year than prostate cancer. The cause: smoking.  About 90% of lung cancer deaths in men are due to smoking.

FIX: Avoid all tobacco products. Instead of lighting up for an occasional social smoke, pay attention to how good it feels to spend time with friends. Your friends, family and co-workers prefer your company when you’re happy, healthy and smoke-free. Guaranteed.

READ ALSO: Helping someone avoid tobacco: What works

Get more tips by age

“Practicing these healthy behaviors is important for all men, regardless of age,” says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center. “So take note of all of these tips — even the ones directed toward men older or younger than you.”

And talk to your doctor about cancer screening exams. Exams are available for those at increased risk for lung and skin cancer. Your doctor can help you learn about your personal risk for cancer, and tell you what exams you should get and how often.

Men's health tips for your 30s

Men's health tips for your 40s

Men's health tips for your 50s and older

Men’s screening exam by age checklist

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center