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Men's Health Watch

Men's Health Watch

Published Online: Wednesday, August 1, 2007   [ Request Print ]

Preventive Health: Most Men Ignore It
Men need to do a better job of managing their personal health. A survey, released by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), polled 2282 men and women across the country about their health behaviors. Of 1111 men surveyed, the findings showed:

  • More than half (55%) of all men surveyed have not seen their primary care physician for a physical examination in the past year 
  • 4 of 10 men (42%) have been diagnosed with at least one of the following chronic conditions: high blood pressure (28%), arthritis (13%), diabetes (10%), cancer (8%), or heart disease (8%)
  • Almost 1 of 5 men (18%) 55 years and older has never received the recommended screening for colon cancer
  • More than 1 of 4 men (29%) said they wait ?as long as possible? before seeking help when they feel sick or are in pain or are concerned about their health

 ?One of the biggest obstacles to improving the health of men is men themselves,? said Rick Kellerman, MD, president of AAFP.

Male hormone May Aid Men with MS
A preliminary study found that a testosterone gel may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) in men with the disease, according to a study reported in Archives of Neurology (May 2007). An expert at the Mayo Clinic was skeptical, however, that the treatment would become the norm and stressed that MS research has shown promising therapies that have ultimately failed.

The current study followed 10 men with milder forms of MS (average age 46) who chose not to take injection treatments. After the men?s condition was monitored for 6 months, each man applied 10 g of a gel containing 100 mg of testosterone to his upper arms once daily for 12 months.

?The cognition improved instead of declining,? explained study coauthor Rhonda Voskuhl, MD. ?We were pretty surprised by seeing an improvement.? The researchers also found that the rate of brain atrophy decreased by two thirds, to the rate expected during normal aging. Furthermore, the participants ended up with greater muscle mass after using the treatment. The authors said that more research is needed before physicians determine whether the treatment is effective.

Prostate Cancer Risk Underestimated
Prior to having a biopsy for suspected prostate cancer, a majority of men believe it is ?impossible? that they actually have the disease, specifically black men. To further understand how both blacks and whites about to have biopsies think about the risk, the researchers interviewed 93 black men and 96 white men who had been referred for needle biopsies of the prostate at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The researchers found that 55% of black men estimated their risk of prostate cancer to be 0%, while almost all of the men said that their risk was <50%. Yet, 70% were diagnosed with the disease. The investigators found no connection between education, income level, or the presence of symptoms and whether or not a man judged his chances accurately. The men who reported being more anxious about prostate cancer, however, made closer calculations of their risk. (The findings were recently presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology?s annual meeting.)

Study Finds Inflammation and Heart Disease Link
Men face a threefold increased risk of heart disease if they have an autoantibody rheumatic factor in the blood. The autoantibody is a marker of inflammation strongly associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

The study included 567 men and 589 women born in Hertfordshire, Great Britain, between 1931 and 1937. The patients were assessed for history of ischemic heart disease, rheumatoid factor, and traditional risk factors for heart disease. In men, the increased risk connected with rheumatoid factor is comparable with well-known heart disease risk factors such as diabetes (2.5 times) and high blood pressure (4.4 times).

The researchers said the findings support growing evidence that inflammation is connected with atherosclerosis and implied that the autoimmune processes, and particularly rheumatoid factor, may be a factor in the disease process itself. (The findings were reported online in the June 5, 2007, issue of Heart.)

Lupus Treatment May Cause Male Fertility Problems
Men with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may have sperm abnormalities that can be associated with intravenous treatment with immunosuppressant cyclophosphamide (IV CYC), according to a study reported in Arthritis & Rheumatism (July 2007).

Although there have been concerns about the future fertility of men with SLE, the current study is the first to test function and sperm abnormalities in men with SLE. The study included 25 men with the disease and 35 men without SLE. For the study, the researchers examined the genitalia and analyzed the semen of all the participants.

The results showed that men with SLE had lower testicular volume, lower sperm count, low sperm motility, lower sperm volume, and a lower percentage of normally formed sperm, compared with the healthy participants. Additionally, the men with SLE with more severe sperm abnormalities had a greater occurrence of treatment with IV CYC. The findings suggested that treatment may be linked with fertilitycompromising damage to the testes.

Prostate Cancer Therapy May Accelerate Heart Attacks
Androgen-suppression therapy (AST), used to treat aggressive prostate cancer, may cause premature heart attacks in older men, according to the results of a study reported in the June 10, 2007, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. AST is used for men whose cancer is thought to have spread beyond the prostate or who have an aggressive form that is believed to have spread.

The researchers based their findings on analysis of culled data of studies in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The data covered 1372 men who received radiation treatment plus AST in 3 randomized groups.

They were followed for at least 5 years. The investigators observed an earlier onset of heart attacks in men aged 65 and older who received AST for 6 months.

?The new finding is that, in men who have risk factors for heart attack, even 6 months of androgen-suppression therapy, [and] maybe as little as 3 months, can cause a heart attack to occur sooner by about 2.5 years,? explained lead researcher Anthony D?Amico, MD, PhD.

The results, however, do not mean that men should not be treated to curb the activities of androgens.

Rather, ?the implication is that a man who needs hormonal therapy to avoid dying from cancer but also has risk factors for heart attack should be sent to a cardiologist for assessment and possible treatment of heart disease before starting hormonal

Are Depression and Sibling Relationship Connected?
Men who do not have a good relationship with a sibling may face a greater risk of depression. The long-term study looked at the data on 229 men from their teen years until their 50s.

The researchers looked at the participants? quality of life and their relationship with their siblings, the quality of parenting they received, and a family history of depression. Reporting in the American Journal of Psychiatry (June 1, 2007), the researchers found the 2 factors that foreshadowed depression at 50 were poor relationships with siblings during childhood and a family history of depression. The researchers are unsure what their findings mean. ?It could be that not being close to a sibling is an early harbinger of later depression,? said study author Robert Waldinger, MD. ?Or it could be that being close to a sibling helps you develop your skills dealing with peers.?

Rare Form of Syphilis Rising in Gay Men
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study indicated that symptomatic early neurosyphilis has been found in gay and bisexual US men infected with the AIDS virus. This rare form of syphilis usually occurs within the first year of infection and can lead to blindness and stroke.

The agency tracked 49 HIV-infected gay and bisexual men with this serious form of syphilis from January 2002 to June 2004 in 4 major cities.

Of the participants, 63% were non-Hispanic whites, 18% were non-Hispanic blacks, and 14% were Hispanic. Their average age was 38.

The CDC said the report was further evidence that gay and bisexual men, many also infected with HIV, are responsible for the rise in US syphilis cases this decade. The findings also indicated that these men are participating in the same risky, unprotected sex that can spread HIV.

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