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Celebrate 50 Years With Cake, Candles and a Colonoscopy

There’s a big party taking place on Pennsylvania Ave. today as President Obama celebrates his 50th birthday. While the President’s birthday might be more high-profile than that of a regular American, he is certainly not exempt from the obligations that come along with aging responsibly. Doctors use age 50 as the starting point for a host of health screening and prevention tests.

The easiest way to maintain good health as you age is to follow a sensible diet and get plenty of exercise. However, even people with healthy lifestyles can fall prey to the symptoms of time. Turning 50 is the time to befriend your primary doctor and ensure that any and all health concerns are addressed as early as possible. See our list below for the procedures you should schedule to mark your big birthday year:



Prostate exam: While these two words can turn even the most hardened man into a whimpering, whining heap, submitting to the exam can potentially detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages. Different medical groups disagree about when exactly men should have their first prostate exam, but using the 50 year milestone as a general guideline is recommended unless your physician advises otherwise.



Thyroid hormone test: Women are especially prone to having their hormones go haywire as they age. Starting at age 50, it is important to double-check that the thyroid is still producing hormones correctly. These hormones regulate everything from body temperature to your metabolism. Continue these tests every five years, or as recommended by your doctor.



Diabetes screening: A simple blood test performed after ingesting something sugary is compared against a glucose tolerance test after you have fasted for several hours. This screening can detect Type 2 Diabetes or pre-diabetes. Diagnosing these conditions early is key to preventing the terrible outcomes of what has been called a “silent killer.”

Colonoscopy: Many people falsely assume that colonoscopies are reserved for only men, but doctors encourage men and women alike to start screening for colon cancer at age 50. People with a family history of colon cancer should begin screening even earlier, starting ten years before the age at which your family member was diagnosed.

Blood pressure: This quick test can be done as part of your regular physical exam or even in most pharmacy waiting areas. Keeping a close eye on blood pressure as you age can prevent a whole host of related issues that can affect your heart, brain, eyes and kidneys.

Cholesterol profile: Most people are safe having their cholesterol checked only once every five years, but those with a family history of heart attack or other risk factors should be screened more frequently.

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