COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Men's health charities enjoy week of publicity

KIRSTEN DOWNER

Health charities hope that men's health - or lack of it - will rise up the political agenda following the first National Men's Health Week, which came to an end on Father's Day, 16 June.

Organised by the Men's Health Forum, a voluntary organisation founded in 1994, the awareness week featured more than 300 local events such as a male MOT in a London supermarket car park, during which health professionals measured volunteers' blood pressure and gave health advice. The World Cancer Research Fund launched a leaflet on male cancers and Tesco published a booklet on men's health.

The campaign was underlined by shocking statistics which showed that men's health has in some cases deteriorated since the 1970s. For example, the incidence of prostate cancer has increased by 135 per cent, deaths from chronic liver disease have increased five times, and over the past 20 years obesity has tripled.

Director of the Men's Health Forum Peter Baker said: "Men's health is an issue that people are not tired of. The statistics show there is a big problem. People are excited about doing something about it."

Organisers are aspiring to the success of women's health charities, such as Breakthrough Breast Cancer with the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign featuring models sporting target T-shirts. "We want to have that sort of profile and impact. That is what we are working towards,

said Baker.

John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity (PCC), which supported National Men's Health Week, said: "The women's health movement should be an important benchmark for what can be achieved through consistent campaigning."

The PCC is encouraging celebrities to promote its campaigns.

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