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June 12, 2008

Blagojevich administration launches Step Up to the Plate campaign to raise awareness of men’s health
Gateway Grizzlies encourage men to Step up to the plate during Men’s Health Week

SAUGET –  On behalf of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, today teamed up with the Gateway Grizzlies to launch the Step Up to the Plate campaign.  This new awareness initiative will help get the word out about preventable health problems, and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases among men and boys.  During Men’s Health Week, men and boys are encouraged to check out the new men’s health Web site www.illinois.gov/menshealth and Step Up to the Plate.
“Men today face many health and wellness issues, and it’s important they take the time to visit their doctors for a checkup,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “The outcome of prostate cancer, as well as many other health conditions, depends on early detection and treatment.  That’s why it is important for men and their families to be aware of available screening options and other necessary information.”
Here are some health statistics men may not be aware of:
·        On average, men live six years less than women
·        1 in 4 men has high blood pressure
·        1 in 5 men can expect to have a heart attack before the age of 65
·        1 in 6 men will develop prostate cancer
·        1 in 12 men can expect to develop diabetes
·        1 in 22 men will suffer from depression some time during his life
The goal of the Step Up to the Plate campaign is to reduce these numbers, by promoting awareness of men’s health issues.  The men’s health Web site, www.illinois.gov/menshealth includes information about getting screened, self checkups, the top 10 diseases that affect men, tips for healthy living, frequently asked questions, and additional resources.
“Men don’t always take care of their health the way they should.  I’m here with the Gateway Grizzlies to encourage men to take time to go to the doctor, get a checkup and make sure they’re taking care of their health,” said Jeff Pott, radio broadcaster for the Grizzlies.  “The new men’s health Web site is making the information we need to stay healthy available and every man should take advantage of it.”
Prostate cancer is a primary focus of the campaign.  It is the most common cancer, other than skin cancers, in American men.  In 2008, The American Cancer Society estimates that about 186,320 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and approximately 28,660 men will die of prostate cancer.  The Illinois State Cancer Registry estimates approximately 8,340 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in Illinois during 2008 and 1,330 men will die from it.  Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer.  Prostate cancer accounts for about 9 percent of cancer-related deaths in men.

“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer about five years ago.  But because it was caught early, I can happily say I’m cancer free.  If it were not for early detection, the outcome could have been very different,” said Dr. Arnold.  “I urge every man to overcome their fears of prostate cancer exams, whether due to embarrassment or the fear of a positive finding, because ultimately, that exam could save your life.”

Sylvester “Sunshine” Lee, an artist, found out he had cancer two years ago after becoming sick following a trip to Springfield. At first he thought it was food poisoning but after finally getting a colonoscopy learned he had colon cancer.  Lee underwent radiation and chemotherapy and had two polyps removed.  Now he is cancer free and doing great, in fact, he recently won three medals at the Senior Olympics.  
“Like many men I didn’t want to go to the doctor, but my advice now is get checked regularly,” Lee said. “If you find it early, you have a better chance of getting it out and surviving.”   
The men’s health campaign is an effort to raise awareness and inform men and their families about some common health problems they may face, and to encourage them to take advantage of early screening and follow-up.  For more information, log onto www.illinois.gov/menshealthStep Up to the Plate. 


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