10 myths about men's health

Published On: Apr 18 2013 01:01:39 PM PDT   Updated On: Jun 02 2010 12:02:36 AM PDT

It can be hard enough for men to keep straight all the information needed to live a healthy life without baseless myths getting in the way.

Here are 10 common men's health myths whose debunking time has come.

Only Women Get Breast Cancer

While it's true that majority of breast cancer patients are women, men still do get the disease and die from it. The numbers pale in comparison to women's cases, with about 1,500 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed among men annually and 400 men dying each year compared to numbers of 92,370 and 40,170 for women.

One of the biggest problems is that most men, even doctors, don't recognize the signs of male breast cancer, according to Men's Health magazine. Men are almost more likely to not understand the three major risk factors: age (60 years or older), family history of the disease and obesity. Even one risk factor is a reason enough to do a quick self-exam every three months.

Marriage Benefits Men More Than Women

This debunking comes courtesy of David Popenoe, of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. Although it's often stated matter-of-factly that men get the lion's share of health benefits from marriage, that's not necessarily true, Popenoe says.

Recent research indicates that men and women benefit about equally from marriage, although in different ways. Both men and women live longer, happier, healthier and wealthier lives when they are married.

Men Don't Have Fertility Cycles

According to Askmen.com, a man's sperm count is affected by the time of the year and the time of day.

Generally sperm counts go up in the winter and down in the summer, possibly because sperm production is increased in cooler temperatures. A man's sperm count is also highest in the morning, matching the time when male hormone levels are also at their daily high.

Shaving Causes Hair To Grow Back Thicker

For some reason this myth has endured for quite some time despite tons of evidence to the contrary. As Yahoo! tells us, as far back as 1928 a clinical trial showed that shaving had no affect on the thickness or rate or hair growth. Despite this being confirmed by many studies since, the myth won't go away.

The reason behind the myth might be that shaved hair is blunt and doesn't taper at the ends, meaning it can look to be coarser. Plus, new hair can appear to be darker, but only because the sun hasn't had a chance to bleach it yet.

Erectile Dysfunction Is All In Your Head

The men's health website www.4-men.org notes that between 70 and 90 percent of men suffering from erectile dysfunction have an underlying physical cause for their impotence.

Health problems, such as diabetes, heart conditions and trauma can lead to erectile dysfunction. Lifestyle factors like smoking and alcohol and drug use can also add to the problem. So while psychological factors may play a role, erectile dysfunction is most-often a sign that something is wrong physically as well.

Prostate Cancer Is An Old Man's Disease

As Dummies.com, the website for the company behind those black and yellow "... For Dummies" books, tells us, younger men can also develop prostate cancer.

Yes, men age 65 years old and older are at a higher risk for prostate cancer, but men in their 40s and 50s and even younger can also be diagnosed with the disease.

"If a younger man believes that you have to be old to die from prostate cancer, and then he is diagnosed with the disease, he may think that he doesn't have to worry," reports the website. "He may then avoid or delay treatment for years, based on this erroneous assumption. Don't make the same mistake."

Tight Hats Cause Baldness

It doesn't take much Internet searching to debunk this long-held myth. From Snopes.com to Men's Health, there is tons of information out there decrying this one. Yet, it lives on.

The website www.hair-styles.org theorizes that the myth got its start in the military when young men entering the service were required to wear hats and soon showed signs of thinning hair. But the connection was more likely mere coincidence, since the age the men enter the military is also the same age that male pattern hair loss generally begins.

Men Don't Get Osteoporosis

Like breast cancer, this is one myth that survives because the disease is much more prevalent among women. But while women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, one out of eight men over the age of 50 is at risk.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the disease in men is under-diagnosed, under-reported and inadequately researched. The foundation recommends a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to combat the disease and cautions against smoking and excess use of alcohol.

Shave Close To Prevent Ingrown Hairs

In reality, the opposite is actually much more likely. If you cut your beard too close, the stubble could turn in on itself, drilling into the pore its growing from and inflaming the skin, according to Men's Fitness.

The website recommends men who experience problems with ingrown facial hair switch to an electric razor or grow a light, well-trimmed beard instead. You should be sure to shave in the direction your beard grows and never forcibly dig or yank out ingrown hairs by the roots, instead using a sterile needle or forceps to tease out and unfold the hair.

Cholesterol Is Always Bad

Although much attention has been paid to cholesterol levels, and rightfully so considering it is the leading cause of death among men, not all cholesterol is "bad."

Healthy levels of cholesterol are an important part of a healthy body, according to the American Heart Association. Your body needs cholesterol to produce cell membranes and certain hormones and it also plays an important role in other bodily functions as well.

There are two main types of blood cholesterol: LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and HDL (the "good" cholesterol). Diets that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol raise the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts and fish can actually lower the LDL level.

Men Think About Sex Every 7 Seconds

Who knows where this one got started, but it sure sounds right. Right? Wrong.

As Dr. Aaron Carroll of Indiana University and the co-author of "Don't Swallow your Gum: Myths, Half-truths and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health" explains, that 7 seconds figure is about the same amount of time we go between breaths. It seems next to impossible that guys could think about sex as often as they breathe.

In one of the nation's most comprehensive surveys about sexual habits in the United states, completed by Edward Laumann and colleagues in 1994, 43 percent of men reported thinking about sex not even once a day, but rather somewhere between a couple times a week to a couple times a month.