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Men's Health Watch

Men's Health Watch

Published Online: Wednesday, October 12, 2011   [ Request Print ]

HPV Vaccine for Boys?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering recommending that young boys be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) as well as young girls. There are currently 2 HPV vaccines approved by the FDA: Cervarix (GlaxoSmithKline) and Gardasil (Merck). Only Gardasil is licensed for use in males. 

The Gardasil vaccine, approved for girls in 2006, prevents against 4 types of HPV. Two of the HPV types targeted by the vaccine cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers. A study in March 2011 showed that approximately half of the US male population could be infected with HPV. Until recently, it was the CDC’s position that the best way to eradicate HPV was to vaccinate as many women and girls as possible.

Men are more likely to pass HPV on to sexual partners, however, because they usually show no symptoms and the virus goes undetected, according to the CDC. Gardasil not only protects the spreading of the virus from men to women, but also protects men against 90% of genital warts cases and most anal cancers.

Although the HPV vaccine is not yet on the CDC’s vaccination schedule for boys, parents can still choose to have their sons vaccinated. Young men and girls who are not yet sexually active will benefit most from the vaccine.

Prostate Biopsies Lead to Hospitalization

A study by John Hopkins researchers shows that men were more than twice as more likely to be hospitalized within 30 days of having a prostate biopsy as men who did not receive one. The study, which will be published in the November 2011 issue of The Journal of Urology, was posted online ahead of print.

The study was the largest analysis to date of the Medicare records of American men 65 years and older who had prostate biopsies in the past 20 years. The data showed that prostate cancer biopsies were associated with a 6.9% rate of hospitalization, compared with a 2.9% hospitalization rate in the control group.

The patients who became hospitalized after their biopsies had complications including bleeding and infection, as well as heart failure and breathing issues. Death rates in men undergoing the procedure did not increase; however, men who underwent biopsies and were hospitalized with related infections had a 12-fold higher risk of death than men who did not have a biopsy.

Edward Schaeffer, MD, PhD, the study’s senior investigator and a Johns Hopkins urologist and oncologist, said, “Prostate biopsy is an essential procedure for detecting prostate cancers. Coupled with appropriate screening, prostate biopsies save lives.” The authors of the study note, however, that the procedure is not without risks, which health care providers and patients must weigh when considering a biopsy.

Fathers Have Lower Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels drop dramatically in men after fatherhood, according to a new longitudinal study. The crosssectional design of previous studies made scientists unsure if fatherhood was the cause of declining testosterone levels or if men with lower levels of the hormone were more likely to settle down.

The researchers measured the testosterone levels of more than 600 men in the Philippines who were 21 years old and single at study onset. Testosterone levels were measured again 4.5 years later. At follow-up, 162 men had gotten married and had children, whereas 257 stayed single and childless.

The testosterone measurements showed that the men at the start of the study with the highest levels were more likely to settle down and become fathers. Although testosterone levels decline naturally with age, the new fathers’ levels were reduced by 26% in the morning and 34% at night. The childless men only saw a decline of 12% in the morning and 14% at night.

The study, which was published online ahead of print in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that men who dedicated 3 or more hours to caring for their children had lower levels of testosterone compared with fathers who were not as active in raising their children.

Raising children involves being calm and caring, qualities that are not often linked with high levels of testosterone. The results suggest that men are wired hormonally in a way that helps them commit to their families after the birth of a child.

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