A waist measurement over 37 inches increases your risk of health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Eat healthily and lose that gut.

Unprotected sex

Up to 50 per cent of men (70 per cent of women) with a sexually transmitted infection don't show any symptoms. Use a condom

Too little exercise

Staying fit is the key to good health. Walking is fine (10,000 steps burns 500 calories) and if you jog or swim or play football (700 calories an hour), you burn more.

Heart disease

There are more than 200,000 deaths a year in the UK from heart disease and stroke and together they account for almost one in three premature deaths (before age 75) in men. Check your blood pressure (should be below 160/100 mmHg) and cholesterol level (ideally less than 5mmol/litre).


Men still smoke more and die more frequently from smoking than women. It increases the risk of heart disease, half a dozen kinds of cancer and other illnesses such as bronchitis. Half of all smokers will die from their habit if they do not stop. Give it up.


Heavy drinking is common among men. In moderation alcohol enhances enjoyment and reduces the risk of heart disease. In excess, it leads to social and psychological distress and physical damage. Three small glasses of wine or a pint and a half of beer a day is fine – more could be problematic.

Testicular cancer

Although still rare, rates have trebled in the past 25 years and it is the commonest cause of cancer deaths in men aged 15-35. Check your testicles regularly.

Prostate cancer

The commonest in men with 35,000 cases and 10,000 deaths a year. Be alert to warning signs (difficulty peeing or getting up in the night).

Other cancers

Don't ignore symptoms (persistent cough, blood in the urine or faeces) – early treatment increases the chance of a cure.

Why Men Die First by Marianne Legato, Palgrave Macmillan, £14.99