Groundbreaking research has found that men’s poor lifestyle choices cost the Canadian economy a staggering $36.7 billion every year. Four risk factors — smoking, excess weight, over-consumption of alcohol and physical inactivity — were studied by H. Krueger and Associates for the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF). Together, these risk factors contribute to approximately 40 conditions, including 78% of chronic lung disease, 67% of type 2 diabetes and 58% of heart disease.

“If we could get men to make some changes in their lifestyle, we could prevent 70% of these problems without adding another doctor, hospital or dollar to the healthcare system,” says Dr. Larry Goldenberg, the founder of CMHF.

Along with eating well and getting plenty of exercise, one very good way for men to keep an eye on their health is to be screened. Screening is designed to catch diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages by testing large numbers of people who may not yet display any symptoms. Some of these screening methods are very simple; others require a bit more effort. They range from the blood pressure testers in drugstores (the results of which should be verified by a visit to your doctor), to mass diabetes screenings organized by employers and other organizations, to the tests for prostate and colon cancer that your doctor routinely orders when you reach a certain age. Especially for men who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their health, there are a lot of diseases to watch for, and a lot of screening tests to keep track of.

An option first released in June 2014 is You Check, a fast, free, anonymous online tool that assesses a man’s risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, low testosterone and osteoporosis, all at once. Through a few simple questions, it’s programmed to analyze medical factors, family history and symptoms to produce a personal risk profile and make recommendations such as visiting a physician if necessary. You Check was recently updated and improved to make it even simpler to use. It’s now also available in French at

You Check is the result of years of work by the Men’s Health Initiative of British Columbia, begun in 2009 by the University of British Columbia. Its research and development were supported by funding provided by Sun Life Financial.

“We are proud to support You Check as a way to bring early attention to the risk factors of certain diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle for Canadian men,” says Paul Joliat, Assistant Vice-President, Philanthropy and Sponsorships at Sun Life Financial. “As part of our philanthropic support, primarily aimed at diabetes awareness and prevention, we’re thrilled to be part of an initiative that could make all the difference in someone’s life.”

Work is currently underway on a version for women.

Meanwhile, men can help reduce their chances of death from disease by getting screened — online, at work or through their doctors.