Declining testosterone levels in men not part of normal aging, study finds

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A new study finds that a drop in testosterone levels over time is more likely to result from a man’s behavioral and health changes than by aging. The study results will be presented Monday at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

“Declining testosterone levels are not an inevitable part of the aging process, as many people think,” said study co-author Gary Wittert, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia. “Testosterone changes are largely explained by smoking behavior and changes in health status, particularly obesity and depression.”

Many older men have low levels of the sex hormone testosterone, but the cause is not known. Few population-based studies have tracked changes in testosterone levels among the same men over time, as their study did, Wittert said.

In this study, supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the authors analyzed testosterone measurements in more than 1,500 men who had measurements taken at two clinic visits five years apart. All blood testosterone samples underwent testing at the same time for each time point, according to Wittert.

After the researchers excluded from the analysis any men who had abnormal lab values or who were taking medications or had medical conditions known to affect hormones, they included 1,382 men in the data analysis. Men ranged in age from 35 to 80 years, with an average age of 54.

On average, testosterone levels did not decline significantly over five years; rather, they decreased less than 1 percent each year, the authors reported. However, when the investigators analyzed the data by subgroups, they found that certain factors were linked to lower testosterone levels at five years than at the beginning of the study.

“Men who had declines in testosterone were more likely to be those who became obese, had stopped smoking or were depressed at either clinic visit,” Wittert said. “While stopping smoking may be a cause of a slight decrease in testosterone, the benefit of quitting smoking is huge.”

Past research has linked depression and low testosterone. This hormone is important for many bodily functions, including maintaining a healthy body composition, fertility and sex drive. “It is critical that doctors understand that declining testosterone levels are not a natural part of aging and that they are most likely due to health-related behaviors or health status itself,” he said.

Unmarried men in the study had greater testosterone reductions than did married men. Wittert attributed this finding to past research showing that married men tend to be healthier and happier than unmarried men. “Also, regular sexual activity tends to increase testosterone,” he explained.

Article Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-06/tes-dtl062212.php

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Poor Oral Health May Signal Prostate Issues

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Prostatitis is a chronic inflammation of the prostate gland that can compromise a man’s quality of life.  Naif Alwithanani, from Case Western Reserve University (Ohio, USA), and colleagues studied 27 men, ages 21 years and older, each of whom were diagnosed with prostatitis within the past year (via biopsy and prostate specific antigen [PSA] test). The men were assessed for symptoms of prostate disease by answering questions on the International-Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) test.  Of the 27 participants, 21 had no or mild inflammation, but 15 had biopsy-confirmed malignancies, and 2 had both inflammation and a malignancy.   Each of the subjects had at least 18 teeth, and all of them showed moderate to severe gum disease. They received treatment and were tested again for periodontal disease four to eight weeks later and showed significant improvement. During the periodontal care, the men received no treatment for their prostate conditions. But even without prostate treatment, 21 of the 27 men showed decreased levels of PSA. Those with the highest levels of inflammation benefited the most from the periodontal treatment. Six participants showed no changes.  Symptom scores on the IPSS test also showed improvement.   The study authors write that: “Periodontal treatment improved prostate symptom score and lowered PSA value in men afflicted with chronic periodontitis.”

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/poor-oral-health-may-signal-prostate-issues/

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Low Salt Diets Not Beneficial: Global Study Finds

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A large worldwide study has found that, contrary to popular thought, low-salt diets may not be beneficial and may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death compared to average salt consumption.

In fact, the study suggests that the only people who need to worry about reducing sodium in their diet are those with hypertension (high blood pressure) and have high salt consumption.

The study, involving more than 130,000 people from 49 countries, was led by investigators of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

They looked specifically at whether the relationship between sodium (salt) intake and death, heart disease and stroke differs in people with high blood pressure compared to those with normal blood pressure.

The researchers showed that regardless of whether people have high blood pressure, low-sodium intake is associated with more heart attacks, strokes, and deaths compared to average intake.

“These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure,” said Andrew Mente, lead author of the study, a principal investigator of PHRI and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

“While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels.

“Our findings are important because they show that lowering sodium is best targeted at those with hypertension who also consume high sodium diets.”

Current intake of sodium in Canada is typically between 3.5 and 4 grams per day and some guidelines have recommended that the entire population lower sodium intake to below 2.3 grams per day, a level that fewer than five per cent of Canadians and people around the world consume.

Previous studies have shown that low-sodium, compared to average sodium intake, is related to increased cardiovascular risk and mortality, even though low sodium intake is associated with lower blood pressure.

This new study shows that the risks associated with low-sodium intake – less than three grams per day – are consistent regardless of a patient’s hypertension status.

Further, the findings show that while there is a limit below which sodium intake may be unsafe, the harm associated with high sodium consumption appears to be confined to only those with hypertension.

Only about 10 per cent of the population in the global study had both hypertension and high sodium consumption (greater than 6 grams per day).

Mente said that this suggests that the majority of individuals in Canada and most countries are consuming the right amount of salt.

He added that targeted salt reduction in those who are most susceptible because of hypertension and high salt consumption may be preferable to a population-wide approach to reducing sodium intake in most countries except those where the average sodium intake is very high, such as parts of central Asia or China.

He added that what is now generally recommended as a healthy daily ceiling for sodium consumption appears to be set too low, regardless of a person’s blood pressure level.

“Low sodium intake reduces blood pressure modestly, compared to average intake, but low sodium intake also has other effects, including adverse elevations of certain hormones which may outweigh any benefits. The key question is not whether blood pressure is lower with very low salt intake, instead it is whether it improves health,” Mente said

Dr. Martin O’Donnell, a co-author on the study and an associate clinical professor at McMaster University and National University of Ireland Galway, said: “This study adds to our understanding of the relationship between salt intake and health, and questions the appropriateness of current guidelines that recommend low sodium intake in the entire population.”

“An approach that recommends salt in moderation, particularly focused on those with hypertension, appears more in-line with current evidence.”
The study was funded from more than 50 sources, including the PHRI, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Article Source: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/en/low-salt-diets-not-beneficial-global-study-finds/updates/

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Being Fit May Slow Lung Function Decline as We Age

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Being fit may reduce the decline in lung function that occurs as we grow older, according to research presented at the ATS 2016 International Conference.

“While everyone’s lung function declines with age, the actual trajectory of this decline varies among individuals, “ said Lillian Benck, MD, a medical resident at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, and study lead investigator. “What is less known is, beyond smoking, what factors affect this rate of decline.”

Dr. Benck added that even though the majority of people will not develop lung disease in their lifetime, “declining lung function is known to increase overall morbidity and mortality even in the absence of overt pulmonary disease.”

Dr. Benck and her colleagues analyzed data from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s CARDIA (Coronary Risk Development in Young Adults Study), which began in 1985-86 with 5,115 healthy black and white men and women, aged 18-30. The study has measured participant’s cardiopulmonary fitness periodically over 20 years using a graded treadmill test. At the beginning of the study and at each follow-up assessment, pulmonary function (PF) was also assessed by measuring forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC).

After adjusting for age, smoking, body mass index and change in BMI, the association between fitness and lung function remained statistically significant.

Researchers found that participants:
• in the top quartile of baseline fitness experienced the least annual decline in PF.

• with the greatest decline in fitness experienced the greatest decline in FEV1and PF over 20 years.

• with sustained or improved fitness experienced the least decline in PF over 20 years.

Dr. Benck said that the last finding is noteworthy because it indicates that fitness matters, not just at a single point in time but over many years. “Fitness early in life and at middle age appears to attenuate this natural decline,” she said, noting that the benefit of fitness was even seen among smokers.

Because it is an observational study, researchers cannot claim cause and effect. However, they noted several important strengths, including a large study population and long-term follow-up and objective measurements of fitness and lung health.

Dr. Benck said that CARDIA will continue to follow participants and may eventually provide insights into whether fitness not only preserves lung function, but also reduces the risk of developing lung disease.

Abstract 10510
Sustained or Relative Increases in Cardiopulmonary Fitness Are Associated with Preserved Lung Health from Young Adulthood to Middle Age
L. Benck1, M. Cuttica1, L. Colangelo1, S. Sidney2, M.T. Dransfield3, C. Lewis4, D.R. Jacobs, Jr.5, N. Zhu6, D. Mannino7, M. Carnethon1, K. Liu1, R.Kalhan1
1Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine – Chicago, IL/US, 2Kaiser Permanente – Oakland, CA/US, 3University of Alabama at Birmingham – Birmingham, AL/US, 4University of Alabama at Birmingham – Birmingham/US, 5University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN/US, 6DEPT OF INTERNAL MED MILLS – Bronx, NY/US, 7University of Kentucky – Lexington, KY/US

Rationale: Beyond smoking there are limited data on factors associated
with changes in lung health. We evaluated whether cardiopulmonary
fitness is associated with preservation of lung health over time in a
cohort of healthy young adults. We hypothesized that both maintaining
and improving to a relatively high-level of fitness is associated with less
loss of lung health compared to maintaining or worsening to a low-level
of fitness independent of obesity and smoking.

Methods: The CARDIA study was initiated in 1985 among healthy 18 to
30 year old black and white individuals. Cardiopulmonary fitness was
measured by symptom-limited, graded treadmill test at years 0 and 20.
Cardiopulmonary fitness was divided into race-sex specific quartiles by
baseline fitness (N=3330) and longitudinal fitness change (N=2733).
Sustained higher fitness was defined as being above the race-sex specific
median at years 0 and 20, sustained lower fitness as below the median at
years 0 and 20, relatively increased fitness as below the median at year
0, above at year 20, relatively decreased fitness as above the median at
year 0, below at year 20. Multivariable linear regression was used to
determine year 20 FVC and FEV1 and decline in FVC and FEV1 from peak
to year 20 across baseline fitness quartiles and longitudinal fitness
change groups adjusting for age, race-sex group, smoking, BMI, and BMI
change.

Results: Participants in the highest quartile of baseline fitness had
significantly less decline in FVC compared to individuals in the first (535
mL vs 574 mL; p=0.02) and second (535 mL vs. 562 mL; p=0.04)
quartiles. Participants with sustained higher fitness had significantly less
decline in lung function than those with sustained lower fitness (FEV1:
539 mL vs. 626 mL; p<0.001; FVC: 477 mL vs. 580 mL;p<0.001) and
relatively decreased fitness (FEV1: 539 mL vs. 654 mL; p<0.001; FVC:
477 mL vs. 615 mL; p<0.001). Participants with relatively increased
fitness had significantly less decline in lung function compared to
sustained lower fitness (FEV1: 533 mL vs. 626 ml; p<0.001 and FVC:
473 mL vs. 580 mL; p<0.001), and relatively decreased fitness (FEV1:
533 mL vs. 654 mL; p<0.001; FVC: 473 mL vs 615 mL; p<0.001).

Conclusion: Greater cardiopulmonary fitness in young adulthood and
achieving relatively increased level of fitness from young adulthood to
middle age are associated with less decline in pulmonary function over
time, suggesting an association with preservation of lung health
independent of BMI and smoking.

Article Source: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/en/fit-may-slow-lung-function-decline-age/updates/

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New research shows tea may help promote weight loss, improve heart health and slow progression of prostate cancer

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Decades worth of research shows that tea–the second most consumed beverage in the world–may help prevent chronic illnesses, including heart disease, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. New research shows tea has been found to help promote weight loss and maintain a healthy weight, improve bone health and activate areas of the brain that bolster attention, problem solving and mood.

The December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition features 12 new articles about the relationship between tea and human health. Each paper is based on presentations from world-renowned scientists who participated in the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health, held at USDA in September 2012. Highlights of some of the compelling reports published through the AJCN include the following five papers:

Tea Leaf Polyphenols May Promote Weight Loss

Tea polyphenols and the caffeine content in tea increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, providing benefits for achieving and maintaining an ideal body weight. The results of one meta-analysis suggests the increase in caloric expenditure is equal to about 100 calories over a 24-hour period, or 0.13 calories per mg catechins. In a related review, researchers concluded that subjects consuming green tea and caffeine lost an average of 2.9 pounds within 12 weeks while adhering to their regular diet. Population-based studies also show that habitual tea drinkers have lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) and waist-to-hip ratios and less body fat than non-tea drinkers. In addition, green tea and caffeine also appear to boost fat oxidation over 24 hours by an average of 16% or 0.02 grams per mg catechins.

Tea May Reduce Risk for Some Cancers

Green tea polyphenols may play a role in arresting the progression of certain cancers. For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, supplementation with 600 mg/d green tea catechins reduced the progression of prostate cancer. The researchers reported that after a year, 9% of men in the green tea supplemented group had progressed to prostate cancer whereas 30% of men in the placebo group had progressed.

Hundreds–if not thousands–of laboratory, epidemiological and human intervention studies have found anti-cancer properties in compounds present in tea. The types of cancer that have shown benefits of tea include cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, lung, prostate, breast, and skin. The proposed mechanisms of action for providing protection against cancer include antioxidant effects, inhibition of growth factor signaling, as well as improving the efficacy of chemotherapy agents.

Tea Catechins are Cardioprotective

Numerous studies suggest tea supports heart health and healthy blood pressure, and appears to be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack. New research, published in the AJCN provides further support. Study results published by Claudio Ferri, MD, University L’Aquila, Italy, found that black tea reduced blood pressure, and among hypertensive subjects, it helped counteract the negative effects of a high-fat meal on blood pressure and arterial blood flow. Hypertensive subjects were instructed to drink a cup of tea after a meal that contained 0.45 grams fat/lb. body weight. The results suggest that tea prevented the reduction in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), the ability to increase arterial blood flow that occurs after a high-fat meal. In a previous study conducted by Ferri, tea improved FMD from 7.8 to 10.3%, and reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by -2.6 and -2.2 mmHg, respectively, in study participants.

“Our studies build on previous work to clearly show that drinking as little as one cup of tea per day supports healthy arterial function and blood pressure. These results suggest that on a population scale, drinking tea could help reduce significantly the incidence of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases,” concluded Dr. Ferri.

Tea Flavonoids Improve Bone Strength and Quality

Osteoporosis is a major public health concern but new research suggests that polyphenols in green tea may help improve bone quality and strength through many proposed mechanisms. In fact, one study found that tea drinking was associated with a 30% reduced risk in hip fractures among men and women over 50 years old. In a study of 150 postmenopausal women, researchers reported that 500 mg green tea extract (equivalent to 4-6 cups of green tea daily), alone or in combination with Tai Chi, improved markers for bone formation, reduced markers of inflammation and increased muscle strength in study participants. Numerous other studies have found that green tea flavanols provide a restorative effect to bone remodeling to help maintain bone density and slow bone loss.

Tea Improves Mood, Alertness and Problem Solving

Results from new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking tea improved attention and allowed individuals to be more focused on the task at hand. In this placebo-controlled study, subjects who drank tea produced more accurate results during an attention task and also felt more alert than subjects drinking a placebo. These effects were found for 2-3 cups of tea consumed within a time period of up to 90 minutes. Several studies have evaluated the role of tea in strengthening attention, mood and performance, and the results have been promising. It is thought that the amino acid theanine and caffeine, both present in tea, contribute to many of tea’s psychological benefits.

Twelve internationally renowned researchers contributed to the AJCN supplement, including experts from USDA, National Institutes of Health, UCLA, University of Glasgow and University of L’Aquila, among others. “The scientists who contributed their original research and insights are among the best in the world, and together, this body of research has significantly advanced the science of tea and human health,” said compendium editor Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston.

“These new peer-reviewed papers add to the previously-published body of evidence that shows that tea can improve human health–both physically and psychologically,” added Blumberg. “Humans have been drinking tea for some 5,000 years, dating back to the Paleolithic period. Modern research is providing the proof that there are real health benefits to gain from enjoying this ancient beverage.”

Article Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/pc-nrs110613.php

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The Best Stretches for Your Back After Sitting a Long Time

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Nearly 80% of people in the U.S. complain of back pain. Most cases are mild and unrelated to injuries such as herniated disks or arthritis, but they can still turn a desk job or road trip into an uncomfortable experience. One expert, Tony Delitto, a professor of physical therapy and dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, explains why touching your toes isn’t a good idea and what is the best way to get out of bed in the morning.

Disk Jockeying

Americans sit on average for 6 hours to 13 hours a day, depending on which study you read, says Dr. Delitto. Being sedentary for long periods has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and other life-shortening illnesses. But one of the biggest problems arising from prolonged sitting is pressure between the disks of the spine, he says.

“When you’re standing, the small of your back has a natural curve,” says Dr. Delitto. “But when you’re sitting, the lower back hunches the other way. That will lead to a low-grade pain.”

Stretch to Success

There are ways to improve the quality of sitting time, including using a lumbar support or towel roll in your car seat and adjusting your workstation so the mouse and computer force you to sit with better posture. Still, standing up and stretching is by far the best way to reduce low-back pain, Dr. Delitto says. Every hour or two, he says, everyone should stand up and put their hands on their hips, bend backward and repeat that five times, holding the bending position for three seconds each time.

“It gets your spine in the most extended posture instead of being flexed,” he says. “We find it helps relieve stiffness, but it also helps alleviate some of that intradiscal pressure.” He cautions that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, since elderly people who suffer from stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column) shouldn’t bend backward at all. “If you have stenosis, you’d feel pain, numbness or tingling below the knee right away.”

Another helpful move is to raise the hands above the head, clasping one hand to the opposite wrist and stretching up, he says. “That realigns the spine beautifully.”

Cracking one’s back has never been shown to relieve or increase back pain, says Dr. Delitto. “I don’t have an ounce of good evidence to prove my theory, but I don’t think that this sort of self-adjustment is good for people to do,” he says. And, he says, the more people crack their backs, the more they seem to need to do it.

Another movement whose benefit isn’t proven involves lying on your back, pulling up the knees and twisting side to side. “There is no literature that I know of that says that twisting is any more helpful than simply bending backward while standing,” Dr. Delitto says.

He also doesn’t recommend bending forward and touching your toes. “Some people have really tight hamstrings, and they may compensate by bending at the back, which can overstretch it.”

For long drives, Dr. Delitto tells people to park as far from the rest area as possible so they’re forced to walk a little bit and get the back into proper posture. He also suggests pulling the car over to do the backbend stretch every hour.

At work, Dr. Delitto says he uses a bathroom two floors up so he has to walk farther. “I also wear one of those activity monitors that buzzes every 45 minutes and tells me to move,” he admits, since even a back specialist can get into bad sitting habits.

Good Morning

Dr. Delitto gives nearly every patient a morning ritual called the hand-heel rocking stretch. Before climbing out of bed, people should get onto all fours and rock back and forth four or five times to get into the child’s pose, a yoga position in which the knees are tucked on either side of the chest while the shins rest on the ground, he says. “I’m not sure if this ritual is preventative, but it does help to release morning stiffness and low-grade pain considerably.”

Dr. Delitto believes nearly everyone should take yoga or Pilates, but he recognizes this may be impractical at times. “There just aren’t a lot of people that will go into warrior pose at work,” he says. Instead, people should just stand up and stretch backward, which should bring immediate relief. “It’s pretty simple to do, and it will improve your posture and the feeling in your back for the remaining 59 minutes of the hour,” he says.

Article Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-stretches-for-your-back-after-sitting-a-long-time-1463411850

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Decreased sexual activity, desire may lead to decline in serum testosterone in older men

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In older men, decreased sexual activity and desire, not erectile dysfunction, may cause serum testosterone to decline, a new study from Australia finds. The results will be presented Saturday March 7, at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in San Diego.

“We found that over two years, men with declining serum concentrations of testosterone were more likely to develop a significant decrease in their sexual activity and sexual desire. In older men, decreased sexual activity and desire may be a cause – not an effect – of low circulating testosterone level,” said lead study author Benjumin Hsu, MPH, PhD candidate in the School of Public Health and the ANZAC Research Institute of the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

Whether decreasing sexual function is a cause or an effect of reduced androgen status in older men, or whether some other age-related factor may be involved, is not clear.

To explore the relationship between declining reproductive hormones and decreasing sexual function in older men, Hsu and his colleagues assessed men 70 years of age and above in Sydney, Australia, who took part in the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP). The researchers tested the men at baseline (n=1,705) and again two years later (n=1,367).

At both visits, the participants answered questions about their sexual functions, including, “How often are you able to get and keep an erection that is firm enough for satisfactory sexual activity?”; “How many times over the last month have you had sexual activity (including intercourse and masturbation) reaching ejaculation?”; and, “How much desire for sex do you have now, compared with when you were 50?”

At both visits, the researchers also measured the men’s serum testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), estradiol (E2), and estrone (E1) by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry; and they measured the men’s sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) by immunoassay.

Over two years, baseline serum testosterone, DHT, E2 and E1 did not predict decline in sexual activity, sexual desire and erectile function. By contrast, the decline in testosterone (but not in DHT, E2 or E1) over time, though less than 10%, was strongly related to decreased sexual activity and desire, but not to erectile dysfunction.

The National Health and Medical Research Council, Sydney Medical School Foundation and Ageing and Alzheimer’s Institute funded the CHAMP study.

Article Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/tes-dsa030615.php

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