Men's Health Watch

Published Online: Tuesday, July 13, 2010
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High Testosterone Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Older men with high levels of testosterone may face increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

A total of 697 men aged 65 years and older were recruited to participate in the study. Researchers collected patients’ baseline sex hormone measurements, and a cardiologist examined their medical records to evaluate incidence of CHD.

Within 3.9 years of the study’s initiation, 100 men had experienced a CHD event, such as heart attack, unstable angina, bypass surgery, or angioplasty. Men with the highest levels of testosterone had more than twice the risk of CHD than those with the lowest levels of testosterone. The finding does not indicate a cause–effect relationship; however, it does contradict previous research and may lead future studies in a new direction, researchers wrote.

It may also affect the use of testosterone supplements by men with mood disorders or low sex drive. “These men may unknowingly be placing themselves at higher risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Kristen Sueoka, MD, who presented the research at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in June.

Black Men at Risk for Aggressive Prostate Cancer
A disease known to strike black men more often may also strike them more aggressively, a new study shows. Investigators from Duke University found that black men were more likely than white men to show signs of aggressive, advanced prostate tumors.

Researchers examined biopsy specimens from 131 men—67 black and 64 white—who were treated with prostatectomy at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. In all cases, biomarkers of prostate cancer progression were elevated among black men. The results were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in June.

The American Cancer Society advises most men to discuss prostate cancer testing with their physicians beginning at age 50. Black men should begin 10 years earlier, at age 40, according to Anthony Y. Smith, MD, a spokesman for AUA.

“African American men are more than twice as likely to develop prostate cancer, and these data show tumors may be more aggressive,” Dr. Smith said.

Early Hypertension a Threat to Teenage Boys
Teenage boys are more likely than girls to develop high blood pressure in their 20s and 30s, according to a report published online June 14, 2010, in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers analyzed the blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) readings of 23,191 boys and 3789 girls over a period of 25 years, beginning at age 17. Even boys with normal blood pressure readings as teens were 3 to 4 times more likely than girls to develop hypertension as young adults, the researchers found.

“Blood pressure values well below the hypertensive range already can serve as good predictors for future hypertension,” said lead author Amir Tirosh, MD, PhD.

Boys’ risk was also disproportionately affected by BMI. Whereas only girls who qualified as obese (BMI of 25 or higher) showed higher risk than their normal-weight peers, risk in boys increased as BMI increased. In light of the findings, “slight changes in blood pressure and weight should represent an alert for pediatricians to begin prevention as early as possible,” Dr. Tirosh concluded.

Opioid Abuse Tied to Behavioral Problems in Men
Researchers have identified gender-specific patterns in the risks associated with prescription painkiller abuse. The study, published in the American Pain Society’s Journal of Pain, found that men who abused the drugs were more likely than women to show evidence of social and behavioral problems.

Lead author Robert N. Jamison, PhD, and colleagues from Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital surveyed 662 patients taking opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain not caused by cancer. After 5 months, patients submitted urine samples and were interviewed for indicators of substance abuse and patterns of prescription drug use. Whereas women frequently reported signs of emotional and psychological distress, men were more likely to report behavioral and legal problems.

The results suggest a unique set of treatment measures—such as urine screens, pill counting, and close monitoring for problematic behaviors—may be needed for men at risk for pain drug abuse, the researchers concluded.

Fast Fact: Men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a physician within the past year.

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