• Ten years on from the death of Bob Monkhouse from prostate cancer and five years on from his ground-breaking posthumous TV commercial, new study finds millions of men over 50 still don’t know symptoms

• They’re also less likely than women to know symptoms of bowel cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer and many other diseases and conditions

• Men over 50 are less likely to eat their 5 a day or visit their doctor than women, but are more likely to if pressured by their partner or children

Men over 50 are less likely to know symptoms of serious diseases and have a worse diet than women, according to a new study released today by Saga Health Insurance who surveyed almost 12,000 over-50s.1

The study which asked both men and women aged 50+ about their lifestyle, their knowledge of disease symptoms and what influences them to go the doctor, found that men may be in need of a bit of encouragement from the women in their life to make their health a priority.

According to the study, over 60% of men don’t eat the recommended five + a day of fruit and vegetables compared to half of women, while one in five don’t do any exercise.

These things in isolation would be of concern however the study also found that men’s awareness of the symptoms of many of the big killers such as bowel and prostate cancer was low – despite all the public awareness health campaigns around these diseases.

This year is the 10 year anniversary of the death of entertainer Bob Monkhouse from Prostate Cancer and five years on from his ground-breaking posthumous TV commercial which urged men to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease.

Since then, the NHS and various charities have campaigned consistently for more public awareness of this and other diseases, yet less than one in ten men over 50 say they would go to the doctor off the back of an NHS public awareness campaign.

Furthermore, 40% of the men aged over 50 surveyed still don’t know the symptoms of prostate cancer and 45% don’t know the symptoms of bowel cancer.

Men are also less likely than women to know symptoms of cancers such as skin cancer (54% men v 71% women) and lung cancer (37% men v 51% women) as well as other conditions such as arthritis (64% men v 75% women) and dementia (49% men v 64% women).

Stethoscope by stethoscopes

Stethoscope by stethoscopes

The study also found that men are slightly less likely than women to visit the doctor when they discover a new health problem (47% v 53%), while almost a quarter wouldn’t even go to their GP if they were in severe pain.

However, men are far more likely to go to the doctor based on pressure from their partner or children, with the study showing 22% men over 50 will get checked out at their families insistence compared to just 14% of women.

Roger Ramsden, chief executive, Saga Services, commented: "The survey results show that men need a shove in the right direction in order to prioritise their health. With so many conditions, prompt diagnosis is the key to successful treatment, therefore it's vitally important that we seek help as soon as we think something might be wrong."

All Saga Health Insurance customers have access to a Health Information Line giving access to a qualified and experienced team of healthcare professionals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers with Super or Secure levels of cover also have access to a Confidential GP helpline, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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