Comptroller Kevin Lembo launched a new campaign Thursday aimed at encouraging men to “man up” and take responsibility for their own preventative health care.

Lembo, who unveiled the campaign at press conference at Rentschler Field, came with some sobering statistics on the state of mens health. On average men die about six years sooner than women and are significantly more likely to suffer from serious chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer, he said.

While those facts mean bad news for men, Lembo said women are far more likely to seek preventative care.

“We’re sicker, we’re dying younger and we absolutely need to do something about it. Men are likely to drop everything to get an oil change or take our car in when the light goes on but, when it comes to our physical health, we’re willing to defer that maintenance until a time when sometimes it’s too late,” he said.

The hope is that the “Man Up” campaign will encourage men to get checkups and health care more frequently, through public service announcements, and a partnership with the University of Connecticut’s Athletic Department. Before the Nov. 9 UConn football game at Rentschler Field, men will be encouraged to access free health screenings at a “Men’s Health Tailgating Challenge.”

Lembo said part of the challenge in getting men to more actively seek out healthcare is eliminating the cultural idea that they should just “tough out” the signs of illness.

“You can’t tough out cancer or heart disease,” Lembo said.

Frank M. Torti, dean of UConn’s School of Medicine, said the campaign shouldn’t be viewed as a contest between men and women. Rather it is to change perceptions and prevent untimely deaths, he said.

“This is a serious problem, but it’s a problem that is, however, solvable,” Torti said.

UConn’s Athletic Director Warde Manuel and former basketball coach Donald “Dee” Rowe also spoke at the press conference. Rowe told of his own battles with cancer.  Since 1988, he said he’s been diagnosed with and successfully fought cancer four times. He said he goes for a checkup four times a year now.

“I want to urge all men to stay on top of their game. To get out, get tested, get an examination. Keep going back,” Rowe said.

Vicki Veltri, the state’s healthcare advocate, said it was also important to reach women, who can in turn reach out to the men in their lives. She said by the time men reach her office, their conditions have sometimes gotten bad and health insurance companies don’t want to cover their conditions.

“Women tend to be a lot more proactive about their healthcare. I think what we need to do is change the mindset,” she said.

As part of the campaign WDRC broadcasting personality Brad Davis said he would volunteer his services to speak about the issue to mens’ groups in the state every week for a year.

For more information about the “Man Up” campaign visit the state comptroller’s website here.