14 Surprising Male Health Myths
Is it true that men should wear boxers instead of briefs? What do men need to know about those steaks and brats they love to grill? What about that certain myth concerning a man’s shoe size?
Men who wear briefs have fewer sperm.
True. Boxer shorts and loose pants can boost sperm count. For about one-half of couples with fertility problems, experts say low sperm count is the cause. But maybe something as simple as changing the kind of underwear a man wears can make a difference.
In the Breeze
The temperature of the testes is at issue: In order for testes to produce sufficient quality and quantity of sperm, the temperature of testes must be lower than the core body temperature.
"That is why [testes] are located outside of the body," explains Celia E. Dominguez, reproductive endocrinologist, Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. "Testes were made to be out in the breeze."
Testes can overheat when a man wears brief underwear. If the testes are too hot — several degrees above where they should be — they are not able to produce sufficient sperm, resulting in low sperm count.
Just be aware, it takes 10 to 11 weeks for sperm to be produced — so plan accordingly, says Amos Grunebaum, MD, director of clinical maternal-fetal medicine at the New York Hospital-Cornell Weill Medical College.
Penises can break.
True. There is no “penis bone,” but you can tear the tunica albuginea, which is a fibrous sheath that is stretched during an erection. This is called a “penile fracture,” and it most commonly occurs during sexual activity. Treatment most often involves surgery. Fortunately, penile fractures are rare.
Hats and/or blow dryers can cause baldness.
False. There’s no evidence that wearing a hat or using a blow-dryer causes baldness. Male pattern hair loss occurs because the hair follicle becomes smaller, resulting in shorter, finer hair and eventually no hair.
Men hit their sexual peak at 18.
True. This is true, at least regarding a man’s supply of testosterone, which peaks at 18. However, peak hormone levels don’t equate to peak sexual performance.
The more you shave, the thicker your beard will be.False. The size and shape of our hair follicles determine the thickness and texture of our hair — whether it is thick and coarse or thin and fine. The hair may appear coarser, but shaving doesn’t change the follicle, so frequent shaving won’t make your beard thicker.
Men can get breast cancer.
True. Men can get breast cancer, but it’s rare. The lifetime risk is estimated to be about one in 1,000 men. In addition to older age, other risk factors include family members (male or female) with breast cancer, a genetic condition associated with high estrogen levels, chronic liver disorders, alcoholism, and obesity.
The larger a man’s shoe size, the larger his penis is.
False. Two urologists at St. Mary’s Hospital in London conducted a study involving 104 men and found no statistically significant correlation between shoe size and stretched penile length.
Grilled meat contains substances that may increase the risk for cancer.
True. Two types of potential carcinogens may be found in grilled meats. One type (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs) is found in the flames and smoke that’s created when fat and juices drip from meat onto a heat source. The PAHs then stick to the surface of the meat. The other type (heterocyclic amines, HCAs) is formed when high temperatures cause a chemical reaction between naturally occurring amino acids and sugars in the meat and the creatine found in muscle tissue.
Ways to reduce or avoid these carcinogens during grilling include putting a layer of aluminum foil under the meat to avoid direct contact of the meat to the grill, pre-cooking meat in the microwave then discarding the juices, marinating meat, reducing cooking time, and removing charred areas, which contains the most HCAs.
No pain, no gain: If a workout doesn’t hurt, then it’s not effective enough.
False. You don’t gain anything from pain. In fact, if you work out until you feel pain (or go past that point), you could injure yourself.
Drinking beer won’t actually give you a “beer belly.”
False. Excess calories of any kind can increase belly fat, and extra calories from beer can contribute to an increased waistline. It’s easy to overdo the calories from beer — or other alcoholic drinks — and the foods you like to eat while drinking.
All saturated fat should be avoided.
False. Many men are completely avoiding saturated fat in their diet as they strongly believe, for good health, it must be avoided. Again, this is not the case. As long as you keep your saturated fat lower and maintain it to about 15% of your total daily fat intake, saturated fat can be included. What’s more is that small doses of saturated fat can help you avoid testosterone depletion, so you’ll actually benefit from allowing a small amount into your diet.
The more protein you eat, the more muscular you can become.
False. The old notion that protein builds muscle is another one that you must know. It is true that protein is required to build muscle, but once you meet your daily requirements, excess protein is not going to lead to extra muscle definition.
The body can only build so much muscle each day and, beyond that, extra protein consumed will just get converted to body fat or used as energy. Your daily protein requirements are much lower than many people believe and will be set at around 1 gram per pound of lean body mass.
Muscle-Mass loss is inevitable with age.
False. Think that muscle-mass loss is just something you’ll have to face? Think again. The primary reason why men begin to lose muscle as they age is simply because of complacency. If you stay busy with your intense muscle-building workouts so you’re sending the signal to the body that it needs to keep that tissue, your chances of seeing muscle loss are extremely low. In addition to a regular strength-training plan, make sure you’re eating well as that’s another key factor to maintaining lean muscle tissue.
As long as you’re active, you can eat whatever you want and not worry about fat gain.
False. Another common health myth that some males believe is that as long as they stay active, they can eat whatever their hearts desire and they won’t face fat gain. This is not the case. It’s not hard to eat back all the calories you burn in an intense workout session in minutes, so dietary control is a must.
You can catch up on sleep during the weekend.
With everyday life getting more hectic, many men believe that they’ll just forgo their 7 to 8 hours during the week and catch up on the weekends. They believe that a good 10-hour sleep on Saturday will make up for a few 5-hour nights during the week.
While it will help out, it’s not going to completely eliminate your sleep deprivation. Plus, doing this will throw off the natural sleep-wake cycle into which your body gets, so it could do more harm than good. To feel and function optimally, aim to go to bed and get up around the same time each day, while getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
You should aim to eliminate all salt from your diet plan.
False. Salt is something that many people are shunning, believing it will only do their body harm, but, in reality, salt is actually required for a number of vital body functions, so there’s no reason to cut it out entirely. If you do consume more salt on a regular basis, make sure that you’re also consuming plenty of potassium as well. This will help to keep your sodium-potassium levels where they should be, thus reducing the harmful effects a higher salt intake may cause. Also be sure to but salt that has Iodine in it.
While you definitely should avoid very high-salt items such as fast food, frozen dinners and canned foods, there’s no reason to forgo salt entirely.
Egg whites are always a smarter option than the whole egg.
False. Finally, the last myth to remember is the myth that you should only eat the egg white. Many men believe that eggs are too high in cholesterol to be a part of their regular diet, but this isn’t true. In fact, the yolk of the egg is the nutrient powerhouse, so by tossing it you’re missing out on a number of important vitamins. Plus, it contains half the protein as well, so you’re really letting much of the nutrition go to waste.