Blue light has a dark side

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Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, harmful to your health.

Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

Daily rhythms influenced by light

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

The health risks of nighttime light

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.

A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.

Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The power of the blues

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.

Less-blue light

If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.

The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.

What you can do

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.

image: © Innovatedcaptures | Dreamstime.com

Updated: September 2, 2015

Originally published: May 2012

Article Source: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side?

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Risk factors for prostate cancer

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New research suggests that age, race and family history are the biggest risk factors for a man to develop prostate cancer, although high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency, inflammation of prostate, and vasectomy also add to the risk. In contrast, obesity, alcohol abuse, and smoking show a negative association with the disease. Details are reported in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics.

Khaled Alqahtani, Shankar Srinivasan, Dinesh Mital and Syed Haque of the Department of Health Informatics, at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Newark, New Jersey, USA, explain that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men with 233000 new cases estimated in the USA during 2014 and almost 30000 deaths. A boy being born today has an almost 1 in 7 chance of developing prostate cancer at some point in their life and a 3% chance of dying from the disease. At this time, however, cancer specialists do not fully understand the underlying causes nor the epidemiology of prostate cancer.

Alqahtani and colleagues have analyzed data from The US Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), the largest database in the USA for all-payer inpatient health care. They focused on the years 2007-2011 amounting to more than 12 million records and looked at men aged 35 to 100 years, finding that approximately 5.35% of them had prostate cancer (642383 men). They then used statistical analyses to look at the independent variables: age, race, family history of prostate cancer, family history of any other cancer, obesity, alcohol abuse, smoking, cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency, inflammation of prostate, vasectomy, and hypertension, to see which factors were critical variables associated with prostate cancer incidence.

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Alqahtani, K.S., Srinivasan, S., Mital, D.P. and Haque, S. (2015) ‘Analysis of risk factors for prostate cancer patients’, Int. J. Medical Engineering and Informatics, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.365-380

Article Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-09/ip-rff092915.php

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THE 9 BEST WAYS TO GET RID OF MUSCLE CRAMPS

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You’ve probably been stopped in your tracks by a spasm the size of a golf ball in your calf, a charley horse, or a tremor that constricts your hamstrings. Like side stitches, muscle cramps are a reality for many runners, lifters, cyclists, and swimmers alike.

The main difference between side stitches and cramps is that the latter occurs in smooth involuntary muscle (more specifically, your diaphragm) while more common muscle cramps occur in large skeletal muscle that’s under your voluntary control (i.e. your leg muscles). The cramps are sudden, painful, and can really throw off a workout (or your sleep). Of course, you know this if you’re prone to muscle cramping. So, why do they happen in the first place?

“Cramps are not well understood, but there is research to show that cramps occur from changes in motor neuron excitability or random discharges of motor nerves that cause sudden—sometimes very painful—involuntary contraction of a muscle,” says Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N, endurance athlete and owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition.

“Athletes who experience cramps may experience them during exercise (exercise-induced cramping) due to muscular fatigue or shortened muscle contraction (a.k.a. tight muscles and limited range of motion),” Sumbal says.

For expert-backed tips on preventing muscle cramps, alleviating pain when they strike, and keeping them from happening again, read on.

1. Do a proper warmup

Always warm up with a combination of dynamic and static stretching(Read: Warmup Tips: How to Use Static and Dynamic Stretching to Become a Better Athlete). When you incorporate both types of stretching into a full warmup routine with aerobic components and drills, you optimize your exercise performance and reduce your chances of straining muscles. Plus, by priming your major muscle groups—flooding the areas with blood—you prepare them for higher intensity movements. In short, you’re not shocking your system and causing muscles to lock or tighten due to stress.

2. Keep carbs handy—and hydrate!

Sumbal says to stay well hydrated during the day before you work out, during the workout (if you’re logging a good distance—and even more so if it’s hot), and after. Dehydration can play a role in muscle cramps because when you lose fluids and electrolytes like like sodium and potassium, you disrupt the balance of fluids in your body. In turn, this increases the excitability of your nerves and prompts your muscles to spasm. You should also consider drinking an electrolyte-carb beverage for workouts over 75 minutes, she says.

“You need to use sport nutrition (carbohydrate-based products) during long workouts when fatigue is most likely to occur,” Sumbal says. This isn’t necessary for a 5 or 10K, but if you’re logging 10+ miles, consider storing these foods and performance products to boost your energy and power you through the finish line. This is especially important for triathletes or people competing in endurance events like IRONMAN or Ragnar races who want to avoid the muscle cramping, stomach pain, and exhaustion symptomatic of bonking.

“We not only lose fluids when we sweat—which can be replaced with beverages—but the levels of several electrolytes that are essential to fluid balance and neuromuscular functioning also decrease—especially sodium,” says Beatriz Lara, a lead researcher from the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Camilo José Cela University. Her research suggests endurance athletes like marathoners can lose liters of fluids during a race, and if those fluids aren’t replenished, the excessive electrolyte loss can cause a condition called hyponatraemia. When your sodium concentration is less than 135 mmol/L in the blood it can lead to decreased or loss of consciousness—and worse. (That could make those muscle cramps seem like a walk in the park, huh?)

3. Improve your range of motion

“Work on mobility to improve your range of motion—especially if you’re commuting a lot or working a desk job,” Sumbal says. Mobility drills really help open up tightness so you can settle into movements that might otherwise strain your muscles—causing them to spasm and cramp.

If you’re looking for a routine that will build muscle, improve mobility, and bulletproof your joints, try The Perfect Workout. If you want fitness experts’ secrets on improving total body mobility, read The Fit 5: Better Body Mobility.

4. Relax your body

It’s difficult during high-intensity movements like sprinting, but try to relax your body when you’re training. Mid-run try to think about relaxing your face, unclenching your jaw, and keeping your fingers from forming a fist. It may seem nit-picky, but you’re wasting energy and putting unnecessary force on small and large muscles throughout your body. “Many newbie swimmers suffer from hamstring and calf cramps from being too tense in the water,” Sumbal adds. “Yoga may help with this,” she says, since the practice teaches you to zero in on tasks that challenge your strength and flexibility all while keeping that mind-body connection. .

5. Take it slow

“Progress slowly with your training,” Sumbal suggests. If you’re training for a marathon, you can’t jump from logging three miles a day to 12. Your muscles won’t have the time to cope, so you can expect straining and cramps. “Don’t take any shortcuts and progress your training gradually so you adapt overtime.”

6. Foam roll before and after workouts

“Most athletes will benefit from light foam rolling and mobility work before and afterworkouts,” Sumbal says. Loosen up your hip flexors, which are notoriously tight, and break up any knots in your hamstrings, quads, and calves. You’ll be markedly more comfortable and relaxed by taking the time to roll out tightness and soreness beforehand, and even more benefits if you do it after as well.
7. Massage the muscle

“If a cramp occurs during a workout, stop immediately and try to relax,” Sumbal recommends. Never try to push through the cramp because you’ll only aggravate it more. “You can lightly massage the muscles to relax the contraction,” she adds. Light stretching will help, too. Just don’t over-do it since that can cause the onset of new cramps.

8. Strengthen your small and large muscles

“Strength training is important; you can strengthen the muscles so they do not fatigue as quickly,” Sumbal says. “Don’t just target the major muscle groups, though,” she adds. Foot strength is super important and causes a whole slew of problems—from the ground up. Work on picking up marbles with your toes or grabbing a towel and picking it up and dropping it down from side to side.

9. Check out breaking science

Sumbal says to check out the latest on a sports beverage that targets the nervous system called It’s the Nerve. It’s not yet released but is in development by Rod MacKinnon M.D., Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist and endurance athlete. MacKinnon set out to create a solution to muscle cramps after suffering a bout while kayaking. According to his site, “When under stressful conditions—such as fatigue, heat, severe electrolyte loss, reduced blood flow—nerve function can deteriorate and cause an excessive firing of motor neurons, which ultimately causes muscles to cramp. Our product’s blend helps stabilize the activity of the motor neurons and thereby prevents muscle cramps.”  (Though we’re not sure yet what the “blend” is, all of the active ingredients are included on the FDA’s list of ingredients that are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).)

Article Source: http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/9-best-ways-get-rid-muscle-cramps?

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Mitochondria, Telomeres, Strength Training & What It Means For Something To Qualify As An “Anti-Aging” Activity

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In his excellent article series on anti-aging, anti-aging fitness expert Clarence Bass highlights this study showing that six months of progressive resistance training made the gene expression pattern of aging mitochondria appear significantly younger. 

Muscles can become smaller and weaker with age (a process known as sarcopenia), and evidence suggests that a key part of the decline occurs in a component of muscle cells called the mitochondria, the primary engine of energy production.

From the study, which was done on men at an average age of 70 years old, researchers reported that “…the older individuals were able to improve strength by approximately 50%, to levels that were only 38% less than that of young individuals…”. This means that seniors engaged in weight training closed the strength gap between themselves and their counterparts who were nearly 40 years younger from 59% to 38%, which is an improvement of almost 36% in a mere six months of the study.

Muscle biopsies from the study showed “a remarkable reversal of the expression profile of 179 genes associated with age and exercise training…Genes that were down-regulated with age were correspondingly up-regulated with exercise, while genes that were up-regulated with age, were down-regulated with exercise.”

The researchers summed things up by reporting that “healthy older adults show a gene expression profile in skeletal muscle consistent with mitochondrial dysfunction and associated processes such as cell death, as compared with young individuals. Moreover, following a period of resistance exercise training in older adults, we found that age-associated transcriptome expression changes were reversed, implying a restoration of a youthful expression profile.”

So when it comes to mitochondria, weight training reversed nearly 40 years of aging!

But exercise doesn’t only affect mitochondria.  Two more studies show how exercise protects DNA from the wear and tear of aging, and how the addition of fast-twitch muscle fibers precipitate fat loss and improve metabolic function – primarily by acting on telomeres.

Telomeres cap the DNA chromosomes in your cells and protect these chromosomes from damage. As you age, telomeres progressively wear and shorten from repeated cell division, oxidative stress, inflammation, and other metabolic processes, eventually leaving the cell’s chromosomes unprotected. When the caps are completely eroded or disappear, the wear and tear begins to cut into your genes, causing cells to become damaged and discarded as you grow older.

In this next study, scientists measured telomeres in twins to gauge the effect of exercise on aging, hypothesizing that “telomere dynamics might chronicle the cumulative burden of oxidative stress and inflammation and, as such, serve as an index of biological age” and that “physical activity level may have an [independent] effect on telomere attrition”.

They studied 2401 twins (2152 women and 249 men, aged 18 to 81), used questionnaires on physical activity level, smoking status, disease status, and socioeconomic status, and extracted DNA from blood samples.

So what did they find in this study on twins?

Telomere length decreased with age. No surprises there. But both the women and men who were physically active had longer telomeres than those who were sedentary, even after adjusting for the influence of age, weight, disease, socioeconomic status, and smoking.

In addition, the study participants who spent more than 3 hours each week engaged in vigorous physical activity (such as lifting weights) had longer telomeres than subjects 10 years younger, suggesting that individuals who eschew placing a vigorous load on their body may wind up biologically older by 10 years.

Obviously, since they were studying twins, these differences weren’t due to genes, but rather due to the lifestyle factor of exercise. When one twin exercised significantly more than the other, they had longer, more durable telomeres.

In the next study, researchers found that replacing slow-twitch type I muscle fibers with stronger and faster type II muscle fibers produced a significant reduction of fat mass and insulin resistance. Endurance training develops slow-twitch fibers, but strength training builds fast-twitch fibers.

For this study, researchers used a genetically engineered mouse that contained a muscle-growth regulating gene called Akt1 that could be turned on and off by the researchers. Activating Akt1 caused the mice to grow type II fibers, without exercise (important to note, since mice don’t really lift weights that well, even when commanded to by scientists in white lab coats). When the Akt1 gene was turned on, the mice took on the characteristics of a lean and powerful sprinter or weight lifter, and when the gene was turned off, the mice reverted to a predominance of type I muscle fibers, along with becoming more obese and insulin resistant (notably, this was without an actual change in diet!).

The researchers reported that “remarkably, type II muscle growth was associated with an overall reduction in body mass, due to a large decrease in fat mass. In addition, blood tests showed that these mice became metabolically normal [with no insulin resistance]. This work shows that type 2 muscle just doesn’t allow you to pick up heavy objects, it is also important in controlling whole body metabolism. It appears that the increase in type 2 muscle fiber orchestrates changes in the body through its ability to communicate with other tissues”.

Beyond the age of 30, we lose approximately six pounds of muscle mass per decade, and these findings indicate that interventions designed to increase skeletal muscle mass (such as weight training) may prove to be critical weapons in the fight against obesity and obesity-related ailments, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and cancer.

The key point here of course is that weight training, due to it’s recruitment of type II muscle fibers, appears to be more effective than cardio, endurance and aerobics for fat loss, weight control, essentially converting the cells into a fat-burning machine.

Finally, yet another study on strength training effects on telomere length in human skeletal muscle looked into reports of a phenomenon of abnormally short telomeres in skeletal muscle of athletes who had overtraining and exercise-associated fatigue. This important study looked into the question of whether long-term hard exercise might have deleterious effects on muscle telomeres. So, using muscle biopsies, the researchers compared telomere length of a group of power lifters who had trained for an average of eight years against that of a group of healthy, active subjects who had no history of strength training.

There was absolutely no abnormal shortening of telomeres in the power lifters. As a matter of fact, telomere lengths in the power lifters were significantly higher than those of the control group, and telomere length was positively correlated to the power lifters’ individual records in the squat and deadlift!

These results show for the first time that long-term weight training is not associated with an abnormal shortening of skeletal muscle telomere length, and that the heavier the load you put on your muscles, the longer your telomeres will tend to be.

Written by: Ben Greenfield

Article Source: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/05/the-fittest-old-people/

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Reducing Age-Related Decline by Boosting Glutathione

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A research team at Oregon State University has determined that glutathione may help ward off toxins that are an underlying cause of aging. Glutathione levels decline with age, which opens the door for a wide range of age-related health issues. A recent study, published in the journal Redox Biology, also highlighted a compound – N-acetyl-cysteine, or NAC – which is currently in use in high doses for the purpose of medical detoxification emergencies. The researchers stated that at much lower levels, NAC may help maintain glutathione levels and prevent the usual metabolic decline that occurs with aging. Looking at it from this angle, research offers not only some profound insights into why animals health declines with age, but also reveals a specific compound that could help prevent some of the toxic processes involved.

The researchers believe that the decline of these detoxification pathways is incidentally linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, which are some of the primary causes of human mortality. Tory Hagen, lead author on the research and the Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Health Aging Research in the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, states that the importance of glutathione as a strong antioxidant has been known for some time. He goes on to say “What this study pointed out was the way that cells from younger animals are far more resistant to stress than those from older animals,” Hagen is also a professor of biochemistry at the OSU College of Science. “In young animal cells, stress doesn’t cause such a rapid loss of glutathione. The cells from older animals, on the other hand, were quickly depleted of glutathione and died twice as fast when subjected to stress. “But pretreatment with NAC increased glutathione levels in the older cells and largely helped offset that level of cell death.”

Hagen said that glutathione is such a vital antioxidant that its existence seems to date back as far as oxygen-dependent, or aerobic life itself. Or, in other words, about 1.5 billion years. Glutathione is a principal compound that detoxifies environmental stresses, heavy metals, air pollutants, pharmaceuticals and various other toxins.

In the current study, the researchers attempted to pinpoint the resistance to toxins of young cells, as compared to older cells. They utilized a toxic compound called menadione to stress the cells. As a result of that stress, the younger cells lost significantly less glutathione than older cells did. The levels of glutathione in the young rat cells never dipped to lower than 35 percent of its initial level. However, the older rat cells glutathione levels fell to 10 percent of their original level.

The researchers state that NAC iboosts the metabolic function of glutathione as well as increasing its rate of synthesis. It is currently used in emergency medicine to assist patients in a toxic crisis, for example ingestion of poisonous levels of heavy metals. It is known to be a very safe compound to utilize even at particularly high levels. Furthermore, the scientists believe that it may have significant value at much lower doses for maintaining glutathione levels and improving health. “I’m optimistic there could be a role for this compound in preventing the increased toxicity we face with aging, as our abilities to deal with toxins decline,” Hagen stated. “We might be able to improve the metabolic resilience that we’re naturally losing with age.”

Hagen believes that there appears to be a wide range of detoxification potential offered by glutathione. High levels of it in conjunction with NAC may help reduce the toxicity of cancer chemotherapies, certain prescription drugs, and treat other health problems. The researchers concluded that “Using NAC as a prophylactic, instead of an intervention, may allow glutathione levels to be maintained for detoxification in older adults,”

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/reducing-age-related-decline/

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Former Abusers of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids Exhibit Decreased Testosterone Levels and Hypogonadal Symptoms Years after Cessation: A Case-Control Study.

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Abstract

AIMS:

Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) is highly prevalent among male recreational athletes. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of AAS abuse on reproductive hormone levels and symptoms suggestive of hypogonadism in current and former AAS abusers.

METHODS:

This study had a cross-sectional case-control design and involved 37 current AAS abusers, 33 former AAS abusers (mean (95%CI) elapsed duration since AAS cessation: 2.5 (1.7; 3.7) years) and 30 healthy control participants. All participants were aged 18-50 years and were involved in recreational strength training. Reproductive hormones (FSH, LH, testosterone, inhibin B and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH)) were measured using morning blood samples. Symptoms of hypogonadism (depressive symptoms, fatigue, decreased libido and erectile dysfunction) were recorded systematically.

RESULTS:

Former AAS abusers exhibited significantly lower median (25th -75th percentiles) total and free testosterone levels than control participants (total testosterone: 14.4 (11.9-17.7) nmol/l vs. 18.8 (16.6-22.0) nmol/l) (P < 0.01). Overall, 27.2% (13.3; 45.5) of former AAS abusers exhibited plasma total testosterone levels below the lower reference limit (12.1 nmol/l) whereas no control participants exhibited testosterone below this limit (P < 0.01). Gonadotropins were significantly suppressed, and inhibin B and AMH were significantly decreased in current AAS abusers compared with former AAS abusers and control participants (P < 0.01). The group of former AAS abusers had higher proportions of participants with depressive symptoms ((24.2%) (11.1; 42.2)), erectile dysfunction ((27.3%) (13.3; 45.6)) and decreased libido ((40.1%) (23.2; 57.0)) than the other two groups (trend analyses: P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Former AAS abusers exhibited significantly lower plasma testosterone levels and higher frequencies of symptoms suggestive of hypogonadism than healthy control participants years after AAS cessation. Current AAS abusers exhibited severely decreased AMH and inhibin B indicative of impaired spermatogenesis.

Article Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27532478

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Male birth control shot found effective, but side effects cut study short

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Both men and women are responsible for pregnancy, yet the burden of preventing it often falls on one gender. Women can choose from a variety of options to control fertility while for generations, men have been limited to withdrawal, condoms and sterilization. But someday soon, a new method may allow men to shoulder a greater share of responsibility.

A new hormonal birth control shot for men effectively prevented pregnancy in female partners, a new study found.
The study, co-sponsored by the United Nations and published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, tested the safety and effectiveness of a contraceptive shot in 320 healthy men in monogamous relationships with female partners. Conducted at health centers around the world, enrollment began on a rolling basis in September 2008. The men, who ranged in age from 18 to 45, underwent testing to ensure that they had a normal sperm count at the start.
The injection, given every eight weeks, consisted of 1,000 milligrams of a synthetic form of testosterone and 200 milligrams of norethisterone enanthate, essentially a derivative of the female hormones progesterone and estrogen referred to as “progestin” in the synthetic form.
According to Dr. Seth Cohen, a urologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, when a man is given a shot of testosterone, “basically, the brain assumes the body is getting enough,” so the body shuts down its own production of testosterone — specifically “the testicle’s production of testosterone as well as the testicle’s production of sperm.”
The progestin “further drives the brain malfunction, so it stops the testicle’s production of both testosterone and sperm,” explained Cohen, who was not involved in the new study.
The researchers used a combination of hormones in order to reduce the testosterone dose to a level that they believed, based on previous studies, would effectively lower fertility yet still be safe.

Study terminated early

During the ramp-up pre-efficacy stage of the study, the couples were instructed to use non-hormonal birth control methods, while the men participants received shots and provided semen samples until their sperm counts dropped to less than 1 million per milliliter in two consecutive tests. At that point, couples relied on the injections as contraception.
Throughout the study, the men provided semen samples to ensure that their sperm counts stayed low. Once the participants stopped receiving the injections, they were monitored to see whether and how quickly their sperm counts recovered to levels described as “fertile” by the World Health Organization.
The researchers discovered that the shot effectively held the sperm count at 1 million per milliliter or less within 24 weeks for 274 of the participants. The contraceptive method was effective in nearly 96% of continuing users.
Four pregnancies (resulting in three live births) occurred among the men’s partners, all during the phase where other contraception was required. All the babies were normal, noted Doug Colvard, co-author of the study and deputy director for programs at the nonprofit research organization CONRAD, Eastern Virginia Medical School, a co-sponsor of the study.
Serious negative effects resulting from the shots included one case of depression and one experience of an abnormally fast and irregular heartbeat after the injections stopped. The researchers considered one intentional overdose of acetaminophen possibly related.
“It is possible that the fluctuations in the circulating progestin following bimonthly injections could haveresulted in the reported or observed mood swings, such as occurs in women, whether on a hormonal contraceptive or not,” Colvard speculated.
Overall, 20 men dropped out early due to side effects. A total of 1,491 adverse events were reported by participants, including injection site pain, muscle pain, increased libido and acne. The researchers say that nearly 39% of these symptoms — including one death by suicide — were unrelated to the shots.
However, due to side effects, particularly depression and other mood disorders, the researchers decided in March 2011 to stop the study earlier than planned, with the final participants completing in 2012.
“I immediately thought of the recent findings on female birth control,” Elisabeth Lloyd said of a study published last month in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. A faculty scholar at the Kinsey Institute, she is a professor of biology and an adjunct professor of philosophy at Indiana University Bloomington.
The study she refers to found an association between the use of hormonal birth control and depression. It looked at prescriptions filled during an 18-year period by more than 1 million women included in Denmark’s national registry.
According to the lead author, Dr. Øjvind Lidegaard of the University of Copenhagen, among women both with and without a psychiatric history who were using hormonal contraceptives, about 10% to 15% got a prescription for an antidepressant during a five-year period.
Annually, the risk of antidepressant use among the youngest group of women taking hormonal contraception amounts to between 2% and 3%. Two or three out of every 100 women between 15 and 19 years old who take hormonal contraceptives will become depressed over the course of a year. “Adolescents seemed more vulnerable to this risk than women 20 to 34 years old,” the researchers noted in their study.
Lidegaard said doctors need to tell women about the benefits and risks of hormonal contraceptive products when deciding which birth control to use.

Effects on fertility

After the men stopped receiving shots, most returned to fertility during a recovery period.
“The minimum recovery time was about 12 weeks after the last injection, and the average time was about 26 weeks,” said Colvard.
Still, there were problems. After 52 weeks in recovery, eight participants had not returned to fertility. The researchers continued to follow these men individually, and five eventually regained normal sperm counts over a longer period of time. One volunteer did not fully recover within four years, though he did “partially recover, so whether he is actually fertile is not known,” Colvard said.
“It shows that it’s a risk, a low-probability risk of it, and it’s not to be sneezed at as a risk of it, surely,” said Lloyd, who is unaffiliated with the new study.
Lloyd said, adding that this risk needs to be compared with those involved in hormonal birth control for women, such as potentially fatal strokes and blood clots.
“These risks of fertility damage are not fatal risks like the women endure with their birth control,” said Lloyd. “You have to compare what women are doing in terms of taking hormones with what men are doing in terms of taking hormones. Are they taking their life in their hands when they take the hormones? Women are. And that needs to be put right up in front when considering the risk.”
Colvard and his co-authors say more research is needed as they work to perfect their cocktail of hormonal contraceptives in an attempt to reduce the risk of side effects, including depression, increased sex drive and acne.
Despite the side effects of the male birth control shot, more than 75% of participants reported being willing to use this method of contraception at the conclusion of the study.
Cohen believes at least part of the reason for this is that they were getting testosterone.

Looking to the future

“Testosterone makes men feel pretty good,” Cohen said. “Testosterone is not a stimulant per se, but it is a steroid, and like a lot of steroids, it can give you a boost of energy. It can give you a boost of muscle mass. It can help with weight loss. It can help with mentation,” or mental activity.
Lloyd believes that if 75% of the men said they’d be interested in getting the shot if it were available, there’s real interest in the product. “That’s unbelievable. That’s fabulous. I’m very very impressed with that number,” she said.
Cohen, who says he he sees patients who face infertility or other hormonal problems, worries about the safety of this method. “Let’s just say, when I read it, I was highly alarmed,” he said, explaining that putting men on testosterone who have normal testosterone levels is not safe and amounts to a violation of the “ethical clinical practice guidelines.”
However, Lloyd thinks this product is a long time coming.
“It’s been a long time since people have been talking about male birth control. This goes back to the 1950s at least.” When scientists first began talking about hormonal birth control for women, they also discussed the same for men, explained Lloyd, but hormonal contraceptives for men were not acted on or investigated.
Cohen questions the general safety of hormonal birth control — for anyone.
“We’re talking about young people, and the scary thing is messing around with young people’s hormones, and that can be detrimental for the rest of their life, right?” Cohen said. “You take an 18-year-old girl or a 20-year-old boy and mess around with their hormones, you’ve really altered possibly how they go through their life.
“If anything, this may wake us up to finding out better hormonal contraceptives for women, right? Because certainly, I know that a lot of young women don’t get the type of counseling that maybe they deserve when it comes to contraception,” Cohen said. “Just a (prescription) and a visit to Duane Reade is all they get, and that may not be enough.”

Article Source: http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/30/health/male-birth-control/index.html?sr=fbCNN103116male-birth-control1030AMStoryGalLink&linkId=30515664

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The Products that Make Men Grow Breasts, Linked to Cancers of the Prostate and Liver

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Owned by Unilever, the Axe brand includes a range of men’s grooming products with many of the ingredients never even tested for safety according to the C.I.R. – Cosmetic Ingredient Review.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Axe products are loaded with endocrine disrupting chemicals. Endocrine disruptorsare exogenous, synthetic chemicals that have hormone-like effects on both humans and wild-life and interfere with the endocrine system by either mimicking or blocking our natural hormones and disrupting their respective body functions.
Member scientists of the Endocrine Society issued a report in which they claim:

“We present the evidence that endocrine disruptors have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostrate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology.”

New studies are also revealing that these harmful chemicals may be causing physical feminization in males. A study published by the International Journal of Andrology found that feminization of boys can now be seen through their play habits.

Medical experts are now wondering whether exposure to years of these toxic chemicals is part of the reason so many older men are low on testosterone and experiencing erectile dysfunction. So they take a little blue pill and get exposed to even more chemicals and the cycle continues.

Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly

Aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly is the active ingredient in Axe deodorant products. One or more animal studies show kidney or renal system effects at very low doses, mammalian cells show positive mutation results, animal studies show reproductive effects at moderate doses.

Aluminum was first recognized as a human neurotoxin in 1886, before being used as an antiperspirant. A neurotoxin is a substance that causes damage to nerves or nerve tissue.

 

COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE

COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE is a very toxic ingredient which has been linked to cancer in animal tests. The biggest danger of using a product with cocamidopropyl betaine is its potential contamination with nitrosamines.

Nitrosamines are created when nitrosating agents are combined with amines.  Nitrosamines have been identified as one of the most potent classes of carcinogens, having caused cancer in more than 40 different animal species as well as in humans.

PPG-14 Butyl Ether

PPG stands for popypropylene glycol, which is made from a completely artificial petroleum product, methyl oxirane. Another name for that is propylene oxide (which is a probable human carcinogen). Propylene oxide is also an irritant and highly flammable. Butyl ethers are in the paraben family, and they are toluene derivatives (toxic petrochemical compounds).  Toluene has proven to have a harmful affect on the reproductive system while parabens have been linked to cancer.

 

PEG-8 Distearate

According to a report in the International Journal of Toxicology by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) committee, impurities found in various PEG compounds include ethylene oxide; 1,4-dioxane; polycyclic aromatic compounds; and heavy metals such as lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium, and arsenic. Many of these impurities are linked to cancer.

BHT

There have been many studies which demonstrate that BHT accumulates over time in the body, having a toxic impact on the lungs, liver and kidneys amongst other negative effects. A study by Gann in 1984 showed that BHT was capable of promoting chemically-induced forestomach and bladder cancer in male rats.

A 1988 Swedish study by Thompson looked at both BHT and BHA. They found that both were toxic and tumour promoting.  Both antioxidants were observed to be cytotoxic in a concentration-dependent manner at concentrations ranging from 100 to 750 microM. At equimolar concentrations BHT was more cytotoxic than BHA.

BY ANYA V Source: livingtraditionally.com

The Products that Make Men Grow Breasts, Linked to Cancers of the Prostate and Liver

 

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