Many men are reluctant to see doctor; fish oil and omega-3s



King Features Syndicate

Q: I dropped my husband off at a doctor’s appointment, and after I drove away, he walked home. He hates going to the doctor. Is there anything I can do to get him to at least get an annual physical? — Debbie K., Lansing, Michigan

A: We hope so, Debbie. Helping men take better care of themselves is a challenge, and not just for you. Research out of Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic found that of the 1,170 men 18 years and older who were surveyed, 77% who have a significant other (married or otherwise) would rather go shopping with them than go to the doctor; 72% would rather clean the bathroom or mow the lawn!

The survey was part of the clinic’s “MENtion It” campaign, and it shines a light on how many of men’s health problems, from heart disease to cancer, can result from not getting a needed check-up. Like Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Our advice: Talk to the guy in your life about the risks of not going.

But if protecting his health isn’t enough to convince him, maybe he’ll care more about protecting his wallet. When a man blocks his chance of early diagnosis, he’s going to end up unnecessarily spending a lot of Ben Franklins on treatment for advanced health issues.

Why Men Are So Reluctant

The researchers found that many men have been told since childhood not to complain about health issues. The guys also told them:

n They don’t want to hear bad news. (Putting it off could make it far worse.)

n They don’t want to be told to change their lifestyle. (It can happen in small steps.)

n They have a general feeling of embarrassment. (The doctor’s heard it all.)

n They don’t like to go where there are so many sick people. (The Cleveland Clinic has virtual visits; other hospitals do too.)

Don’t let your guy off the hook; you can refute all his objections.

Q: I recently heard that omega-3 supplements don’t really provide any cardiovascular benefits. But I take 900 mg almost every day, because I thought they did. Which is it? — Audrey B., Roanoke, Virginia

A: Info on omega-3 supplements can be confusing. Many randomized control studies have lacked consistency, partly because they weren’t large enough to cover a broad-based population. However, the most up-to-date information is from researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who conducted a metastudy that looked at 13 randomized trials worldwide with 120,000 adult participants. The researchers concluded that omega-3 supplementation significantly lowers death rates from heart attack, and total coronary vascular disease.

How did they get there? Even though the researchers agreed that “two reviews published last year did not find clear evidence for [heart disease] benefit [from omega-3s],” the scale of this metastudy let them come down on the side of “significant protective effects ... against most CVD outcome risks.” They identified an 8% reduced risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease death from supplementation of 840 mg daily -- and more had even better results. We recommend 900 mg of DHA or EPA daily (ask your doc first).

DHA and/or EPA will reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction, too. In 2012 researchers from the University of Alberta showed that in the lab, animals that were fed a diet high in DHA had higher levels of DHA in the hippocampus (the memory section of the brain), and that improved communication between memory cells.

But you can get the health-boosting benefits of omega-3s from food: Three 6-ounce portions of salmon weekly will reduce your risk of heart disease by more than 20%!

The bottom line is that omega-3s are good for your arteries, heart and brain, and more is better. It doesn’t matter whether you get the EPA- or DHA-omega-3 from plants, fish or supplements.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at

[email protected].

(c)2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.