By D. Bruce Shine

Vanderbilt University’s Center for Research on Men’s Health, Vanderbilt’s Medical Center, Tennessee Department of Health, Meharry Medical College, and Tennessee Men’s Health Network, of which this writer is vice-president, have issued their 2017 Tennessee Men’s Health Report Card using data collected between 2012 and 2015.

The periodic study is the only one issued on the status of men’s health in the Volunteer State. The report noted that men in Tennessee currently do not meet the Healthy People 2020 goals for such health hazards as hypertension, wearing seat belts, tobacco use (smoking or smokeless) and obesity.

While progress has been made in some important areas, Healthy People 2020 goals in 2015 were rarely met or exceeded. Rates of death in 2015 from such matters as unintentional injuries (excluding motor vehicle accidents), accidental poisoning by exposure to drugs, and other biological substances have worsened.

The 2017 Report Card is not broken down by grand division for opiate addition. However, it is known that opiate addiction and related deaths here in Upper East Tennessee far exceed the figures for the other two grand divisions of the Volunteer State.

Unfortunately, in 2015, 14.5 percent of the white males and 18.3 percent of black males in Tennessee did not graduate from high school. The Healthy People 2020 goal for Tennessee is 2.1 percent, yet we are at 15.6 percent.

Life expectancy for men in Tennessee in 2015, was 73.8 years, while nationally it was 76.3. For women nationally, it was 81.2 years while in Tennessee in 2015, it was 78.8.

Smokers in Tennessee in 2012 were 27.2 percent, dropping slightly by 2015 to 22.8 percent. Smokeless tobacco in 2012 was 9.2 percent, while sadly by 2015 there was an increase to 11 percent.

Obesity range (>30) has increased from 2012 when the range was 32.6 percent. In 2015 it increased to 33.1 percent.

Deaths by 2015, among 18 to 34-year olds from accidents (minus motor vehicles) were 21.6 percent while suicides were 16.9 percent, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 16.3 percent, assault 14.2 percent, and diseases of heart (heart disease) for 7.1 percent.

In the 35-to-54 age bracket by 2015, deaths from heart disease constituted 22.7 percent of the state’s 4,245 deaths in that group, while cancer took 16.5 percent, accidents (non-vehicle) were at 12.7 percent, suicide 6.9 percent and motor vehicle accidents were at 4.8 percent.

In 2015, the 55-and-over age group, there were 27,537 deaths. Of those 26.3 percent were from heart disease, cancer 25.1 percent, chronic lower respiratory diseases 6.8 percent, cerebrovascular disease 4.7 percent, and Alzheimer’s disease 3.4 percent.

Here in East Tennessee, by 2015 in all male age groups, heart disease was the main cause of death for 24.5 percent, followed closely by cancer for 23.5 percent, chronic lower respiratory disease 6.4 percent, unintentional non-vehicle accidents 4.7 percent and cerebrovascular disease 3.9 percent.

Deaths in the other two grand divisions of Tennessee by 2015 differ in percentages, but in each age group the causes of death are similar.

Cancer was the No. 2 cause of death by 2015 for men in Tennessee, across all racial groups, and exceeds the Healthy People 2020 goal.

The largest differences are between non-Hispanic black/African American and non-Hispanic White men are in prostate cancer mortality.

Among the leading causes of death for men in Tennessee by 2015, the largest racial difference was between black and white men is in diabetes mortality.

Tennessee diabetes deaths by 2015, age-adjusted rates per 100,000 men age 18 and over, are 123 for all. The division between non-Hispanic white is 115.4 and for non-Hispanic black 181.4. The goal for Healthy People 2020 is less than 65.8. As the figures note, we are well below the goal of Healthy People 2020.

2015 Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) deaths, age adjusted rates per 100,000 men age 18 or older was 4.4. The Healthy People 2020 goal seeks less than 3.3.

Men historically have failed to seek routine medical care, and the trend continues. In 2012, 72.7 percent of the men in Tennessee had a personal healthcare provider. By 2015, that figure dropped to 71.2 percent. The Healthy People 2020 goal is 83.9 percent.

In Tennessee, men smoke too much and eat too much of the wrong foods.

Sadly we produce far too many widows who end up in poverty when their primary income source dies.

We in Tennessee need to correct our negative health habits.

D. Bruce Shine is a Kingsport attorney and Vice President, Tennessee Men’s Health Network.