Samuel L Jackson: Men need to speak up about health issues

Samuel Jackson has thrown his voice behind men's health.Photo / AP
Samuel Jackson has thrown his voice behind men's health.Photo / AP

Samuel L Jackson has urged men to be more open about their health problems in an attempt to tackle cancer.

The Pulp Fiction star, who is fronting a new UK charity called One For The Boys, believes men should talk more about the disease and other illnesses.

"Guys don't talk about their health issues, unless they've got a sprained ankle," says the 64-year-old actor.

"We'll talk about our injuries but we won't talk about our illnesses, so I think it's time we do that."

Jackson says he was motivated to put his weight behind the charity after friends had secretly dealt with cancer without telling anybody.

"When they started talking about it, I realised most guys don't talk to other guys about what their medical conditions are - especially cancer conditions.

"And most guys think the only cancer guys get is prostate cancer, or they look at televisions and see it as basically a woman's problem, but it's not."

"So I realised that we do really need to make men aware of the fact that cancer is a very serious thing for guys."

One For The Boys challenges men's understanding of cancers and their tendency to have a more laissez-faire approach to their health.

All money raised will go towards the Royal Marsden Hospital in London to buy new MRI scanners for cancer diagnosis.

In recent weeks, Angelina Jolie has revealed she had a double mastectomy because she has a higher chance of developing breast cancer, and Michael Douglas has spoken about his throat cancer being caused by the HPV virus after having oral sex.

Asked what effect celebrities can have on people's perception of the disease, he said: "We're just people who have interesting jobs, so people tend to look at us, or that fact that you guys (media) do shows, or you film us talking, allows people to hear our opinions about things, or sometimes, we'll just expose stuff about ourselves, and that makes people go, 'Oh, that's sort of like us'.

"I don't know that what we say has more weight than anything else, but Angelina's declaration and allowing people to understand that she did that will maybe get some other women or some other person to look at their bodies and go in and go, 'Ok, well maybe I do need to do this too, or I need to get checked.'

"Hopefully we have enough credence, or our earnestness about the things we're talking about will make sense to people, or it reaches a greater number of people because we're the ones saying it.

"I just want people to be aware and get out there and do something. To understand their bodies and understand the quality of life for them and their families if they understand what's going on on the inside and the outside, because cancer's not just internal, it's external too."

Jackson said he has an exercise and diet regime to make sure he keeps healthy.

"I try and eat a certain way, and I try and exercise," he said.

"I do use alternative medicines, I go to acupuncturists, get massages, but I'm old, so I need to have those things.

"But the sooner you recognise how to take care of your body, the longer you'll have that engine driving you, and the more you'll be able to do for yourself and for other people because you are healthy and you'll be a healthy example."

He added: "I stretch. I ride a bike. I don't necessarily get out and run. I ride a stationary bike for an hour, an hour and a half, two or three times a week.

"I get on the big Swiss ball, I've got my TRX straps to use my own body weight to pull myself around.

"Push-ups, pull-ups and stuff like that, so I try to find a way to maintain a specific weight and a specific level of fitness that allows me to have a comfortable lifestyle, and not be achy, and, I guess, kind of old."

- PAA

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