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Focusing on Men's Health this Father's Day


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Focusing on Men's Health this Father's Day

This weekend, South Jersey families will gather together to honor their dads. Father's Day is the annual opportunity of sons and daughters to make a special day for their fathers; showering them with love and appreciation for all they do. It is also an opportunity to remind them that their long-term health matters to those who look up to them for advice and support.

In the week leading up to Father's Day, the nation marks Men's Health Week. Dedicated to raising awareness of men's health issues, the non-profit Men's Health Network is once again promoting routine medical screenings - in addition to proper diet and regular exercise - for men of all ages. Given that, on average, men die almost six years earlier than women and are more likely to become victims of many medical conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart disease - it is critical that male members of our families and communities take their health seriously.

In an effort to rightly focus federal resources to promoting men's health, I am proud to cosponsor H.R. 1440, the "Men's Health Act of 2007," which would establish an Office of Men's Health at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Mirroring the work of the existing Office of Women's Health, this new office would coordinate research activities, recommend public policies, and engage in public-private partnerships in our communities that encourage men to engage in healthy lifestyles.

In addition to routine cholesterol and blood pressure exams, adult males should also undergo annual screenings for prostate cancer starting at the age of 50. Studies show that one in six men will develop the deadly disease; with prostate cancer being the second most common type of cancer found in American men, with more than 186,000 new cases this year alone. In New Jersey alone, the American Cancer Society estimates that 5,090 new cases will be diagnosed - a decrease of more than 3,000 cases since 2007. With the assistance of early screening and awareness programs that are conducted throughout the country, however, lives are being saved and survival rates are increasing.

Recognizing it is vital we continue our efforts, I have introduced H.R. 2729, the "Prostate Cancer Research and Prevention Act." This bill would continue funding successful awareness, research and prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It will allow the CDC to continue providing grants to states and local health departments to ensure they educate the public about the importance of early screening while extending the authority of the National Cancer Institute at the NIH to conduct clinical research to learn more about the causes of prostate cancer, and to ultimately find a cure. The American Cancer Society, the Men's Health Network and the Dean and Betty Gallo Prostate Cancer Center at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey join me in supporting this vital legislation.

Thus, as we gather with our families this Father's Day, I encourage every adult male to be proactive about their health by routinely getting a thorough medical exam, including being screened for prostate cancer. Early detection and prevention remains the key to beating prostate cancer and other illnesses while promoting a general healthy lifestyle. I remain committed to finding federal resources to further research into these critical areas, and hope that additional public-partnerships will be formed in our joint effort to beat these life-threatening diseases.

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