Your Fingers Show Your Athletic Potential and Anxiety

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Source:
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Summary:
By comparing your index and ring fingers, a neuroscientist can tell if you are likely to be anxious, or if you are likely to be a good athlete.

By comparing your index and ring fingers, a neuroscientist can tell if you are likely to be anxious, or if you are likely to be a good athlete.

It is well-known that adults whose index finger is shorter than their ring finger were exposed to greater amounts of testosterone when they were in the womb.

Both women and men with this characteristic are — on average — better equipped to solve mentally demanding 3D rotation tasks as adults. As a group, they also have better physical and athletic abilities, but are more prone to having ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome.

Why on earth is this the case? Both boys and girls are exposed to testosterone in the womb. Everyone has different levels of male and female sex hormones. Some men have a lot of testosterone, some have less, and the same applies to women. Women who have received a lot of prenatal testosterone don’t need much testosterone as adults.

The level of testosterone in utero affects one’s finger length as an adult.

24 women and a drop of testosterone

“The relationship between the index finger and ring finger in particular indicates how much testosterone you have been exposed to in utero,” says Carl Pintzka, a medical doctor and researcher at the National Competence Service for Functional MRI.

In his doctoral dissertation at NTNU, Pintzka investigated how the brain functions differently in women and men. As part of this study, he tested an established theory about the significance of finger length and how the brain works.

He measured the finger length of 42 women and gave half of them a drop of testosterone. The other half were given a placebo. Afterwards, the women had to solve various mental tasks.

Short index finger, more testosterone

“We could then look at how testosterone levels affect different abilities in healthy women both in the womb and in adulthood,” says Pintzka.

An index finger that is relatively short compared to the ring finger indicates that one has been exposed to a lot of testosterone in utero, whereas a relatively long index finger suggests a lower exposure to testosterone in the womb.

“One mechanism behind this relationship is the difference in the receptor density for oestrogen and testosterone in the various fingers in utero. This relationship has also been shown to remain relatively stable after birth, which implies that it’s strictly the fetal hormone balance that determines this ratio,” says Pintzka.

More testosterone, better sense of place

The relationship between the index finger and ring finger in humans is associated with a variety of abilities in adulthood.

“The greatest effect has been found for various physical and athletic measures, where high levels of prenatal testosterone are consistently linked with better capabilities,” Pintzka says. “Beyond this we find a number of uncertain results, but a general feature is that high levels of testosterone generally correlate with superior abilities on tasks that men usually perform better, such as various spatial tasks like directional sense,” he adds.

Conversely, low levels of testosterone are associated with better abilities in verbal memory tasks, such as remembering lists of words. Fetal hormonal balance also likely affects the risk of developing various brain-related diseases.

… but also more ADHD and autism

Pintzka says studies show that high levels of testosterone in utero correlate with an increased risk of developing diseases that are more common in men, such as ADHD, Tourette’s and autism. Low levels of testosterone are associated with an increased risk of developing diseases that are more common in women, like anxiety and depression.

His study primarily involved researching how testosterone affects different spatial abilities in women. The women were asked to navigate a virtual maze, and to mentally rotate different three-dimensional objects.

More study needed According to Pintzka, the study results indicate a trend towards a positive effect of high testosterone levels on spatial abilities in utero. He believes that a larger study would be able to show a significant correlation. Furthermore, the results suggest that these hormone levels are important both in utero and in adulthood.

In other words, no definite conclusions can be drawn quite yet. Pintzka found no prenatal hormonal effects on study participants’ ability to navigate a virtual maze.

“The women who scored best on the mental rotation tasks had high levels of testosterone both prenatally and in their adult lives, while those who scored worst had low levels in both,” says Pintzka.

Journal Reference:

Carl W.S. Pintzka, Hallvard R. Evensmoen, Hanne Lehn, Asta K. Håberg. Changes in spatial cognition and brain activity after a single dose of testosterone in healthy women. Behavioural Brain Research, 2016; 298: 78 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.10.056

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161012095619.htm

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DHEA and Pregnenolone

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Our review of the scientific literature decades ago indicated that when used appropriately, these bioidentical hormones may slow the onset of multiple degenerative diseases and sustain optimal cognitive function in maturing individuals.

Since then, an armada of published studies has validated our position. Just last year, there were 380 newly published papers about DHEA.1

This wealth of incontrovertible medical evidence has not stopped the government from erecting regulatory barriers that would deny you the ability to replenish DHEA and pregnenolone to youthful levels.

The latest governmental assault comes out of California. The sale of DHEA and pregnenolone is now illegal unless accompanied by a fear-mongering, scientifically baseless warning label.

We think the State of California should have consulted enlightened, reputable scientists before imposing such onerous statutory burdens. In this instance, this legislative mandate only serves to misinform and frighten the public about the health-promoting properties of hormones made by our own bodies.

Once again, it is time to set the record straight regarding the medically established benefits of DHEA and pregnenolone.

The infinite wisdom of elected lawmakers in California has spawned a questionable dictate. While few if any of these legislators have any direct experience with DHEA or pregnenolone, they nonetheless have issued a decree that all labels must carry a warning. The warning is so strong that novices who read these labels will fear DHEA and pregnenolone and not use them. That’s too bad since hard science substantiates both the safety and efficacy of these natural hormones.

Life Extension’s medical experts reviewed California’s label information, and our assessment of the peer-reviewed literature differs in certain important respects from the conclusions reached by State legislators.

The law, Section 110423(b) of the California Health and Safety Code, states, “The sale or distribution of dietary supplements containing steroid hormone precursors is prohibited unless the product label for the dietary supplements clearly, and conspicuously contains the following warning:

WARNING: NOT FOR USE BY INDIVIDUALS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YEARS.  DO NOT USE IF PREGNANT OR NURSING. Consult a physician or licensed qualified healthcare professional before using this product if you have, or have a family history of, breast cancer, prostate cancer, prostate enlargement, heart disease, low “good” cholesterol (HDL), or if you are using any other dietary supplement, prescription drug, or over-the-counter drug. Do not exceed recommended serving. Exceeding recommended serving may cause serious adverse health effects. Possible side effects include acne, hair loss, hair growth on the face (in women), aggressiveness, irritability, and increased levels of estrogen. Discontinue use and call a physician or licensed qualified healthcare professional immediately if you experience rapid heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision, or other similar symptoms. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

Separate cautions for pregnenolone must now include the statements that: “Pregnenolone may affect levels of other hormones, such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and/or DHEA. Do not take this product if you have a history of seizures. Do not take this product if you have breast cancer, prostate cancer, or other hormone-sensitive diseases.” And the caution for DHEA now must read, “Do not use DHEA if you are at risk for or have been diagnosed as having any type of hormonal cancer, such as prostate or breast cancer.”

The published literature on DHEA and pregnenolone as supplements paints a rather different picture.

Supplementation with DHEA and/or Pregnenolone—The Scientific Truth

Cancer Risk


The truth, as always, is more nuanced. Important work by Harvard urologist Abraham Morgentaler and others has revealed that low testosterone levels increase prostate cancer risk.
2,3 Morgentaler himself has become a strong proponent of supplementation with testosterone in older men.3 He was also the lead researcher on a study demonstrating that DHEA supplementation in rats enhanced total testosterone levels without producing any deleterious changes in prostate tissue.4Both pregnenolone and DHEA are “parent” hormones of the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Taking pregnenolone or DHEA supplements, therefore, may indeed raise levels of those sex hormones; in fact, that is considered one of the desired effects. Mainstream physicians, however, continue to express concern about boosting sex hormone levels late in life, citing the theoretical risk of hormone-dependent malignancies such as breast and prostate cancers.

Similar theoretical risks apply for breast cancer. But no increased risk of breast cancer has been demonstrated in large studies of combinations of natural estradiol and progesterone (the natural products of DHEA and/or pregnenolone).5 Furthermore, natural progesterone alone may reduce cancer risk, again suggesting that boosting sex hormone levels with precursors such as DHEA and pregnenolone is safe.6 One recent animal study demonstrates a direct anti-cancer effect of DHEA in obese rats.7

To date, no study has convincingly shown an increase in human hormone-dependent cancer risk as a result of DHEA or pregnenolone supplementation.8 Naturally, any individual who is known to have cancer of any kind should consult with his/her physician when using any new supplement or medication.

Heart Disease or Low HDL

One of the most perplexing features of the California label requirement is the caution about a family history of heart disease or low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

DHEA is in fact known to decrease cardiovascular risk factors by improving vascular remodeling in the face of high blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing obesity, and increasing HDL levels.9-12 No studies have been published demonstrating that pregnenolone raises any cardiovascular risk factors.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: ERRONEOUS REGULATION OF DHEA AND PREGNENOLONE
  • A California law requires strict labeling for two commonly used supplements, DHEA and pregnenolone.
  • Both have a longstanding track record of delaying or reversing multiple diseases of aging and cognitive impairment.
  • Both also have impeccable safety profiles, as attested by the experience of millions of users over more than a decade.
  • The label requirements reflect a concern about the theoretical risk of hormone-dependent cancers, despite a complete lack of peer-reviewed scientific evidence supporting this claim.
  • Other risks mentioned in the label do not even have a sensible theoretical basis, such as those for cardiovascular disease, visual disturbances, or vertigo.
  • As with all supplements and medications, prudence suggests careful monitoring of one’s state of health, discussion of any new symptoms with a healthcare provider, and discontinuation of any treatment that produces unwelcome effects.

Rapid Heartbeat, Dizziness, or Blurred Vision


There are no published, peer-reviewed articles suggesting that either DHEA or pregnenolone supplements are associated with rapid heartbeat, tachycardia, or atrial or ventricular fibrillation. In fact, men with atrial fibrillation were shown in one study to have abnormally low DHEA levels.
13The California label requirement explicitly warns against continuing supplementation in the face of rapid heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision, or other “similar symptoms.” This, like the general cardiovascular precaution, is mystifying in the face of the published literature.

Similarly, there is no published report of either DHEA or pregnenolone in association with any visual disturbance or glaucoma. Just two reports exist on age-related macular degeneration and DHEA levels. The older one suggests that higher DHEA levels might be associated with increased risk, but the more recent article demonstrates a protective effect of higher DHEA levels.14,15 And a single French study demonstrated that higher DHEA levels are associated with reduced risk of cataracts.16

Just one study, from 1998, shows in an animal study that pregnenolone produces an excitatory effect on nerve cells in the inner ear, where balance is maintained.17 This could produce a theoretical risk of dizziness or vertigo, but no report of such an effect in humans has been published.

WHAT IS DHEA?
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is the most common adrenal steroid hormone in the body.25 It is naturally produced from cholesterol (as are all steroid hormones) in a variety of tissues, most notably the adrenal glands. DHEA is the “parent” hormone of both the androgens and the estrogens (male and female hormones, respectively).26 Like the sex hormones themselves, natural levels of DHEA decline with advancing age. That decline creates an increased vulnerability to chronic illnesses such as the metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.25 Low DHEA levels are also strongly associated with susceptibility to falls and fractures, and even with earlier death in men.27,28

DHEA has long been used as a natural supplement to restore blood levels to those found in younger adults. Levels of sex hormones rise beneficially during supplementation, while levels of stress-related cortisol drop.29,30 As a result, we typically see improvements in muscle strength and bone mineral density, with a reduction in body fat mass.31,32 Indeed, there is now substantial support for DHEA supplementation in adrenal insufficiency, hypopituitarism, osteoporosis, systemic lupus, depression and schizophrenia.33Importantly, DHEA supplementation in women aged 70-79 also improved sexual desire, arousal, activity, and satisfaction, while also improving menopausal symptoms in younger women.34,35

Perhaps the most impressive benefits of DHEA supplementation are in the realm of cognitive function. Both DHEA and pregnenolone are so-called “neurosteroids,” which protect brain cells from damage by both acute injury and chronic stimuli.36-38 Daily supplements of 25 mg DHEA can increase cognitive scores and prevent deterioration of scores for activities of daily living.39 And many studies have verified the importance of DHEA supplements for improving clarity of thinking and a general sense of well-being.25,26,37

Virilization

Because both DHEA and pregnenolone boost natural levels of testosterone as well as estrogen, there is some concern that women who take the supplements might express more masculine traits such as male pattern baldness, hair growth on the face, and aggressive behaviors. In practice, however, these effects appear infrequently and are mild and reversible when they do occur.18,19

A sensible recommendation for anyone taking DHEA or pregnenolone is to monitor oneself for any of these mild side effects, and to discontinue use or reduce dose if those effects outweigh the benefits of continued supplementation.


Seizure History

WHAT IS PREGNENOLONE?
Like DHEA, pregnenolone is a naturally produced steroid hormone that acts as a “parent” to a variety of other hormones, including the sex steroids and hormones vital for controlling blood mineral content and metabolism. Pregnenolone is also a potent neurosteroid, protecting brain cells from age-related damage and preserving their function.36 In fact, pregnenolone is being explored for use in acute management of brain injury and stroke.40,41

Normal brain tissue contains large amounts of pregnenolone, and animal studies reveal that the steroid enhances development of new brain cells.42,43 In humans, pregnenolone supplementation produces significant improvements in both depression and schizophrenia.44-47 And pregnenolone shows promise in mitigating memory loss and even some of the abnormal structural findings in Alzheimer’s disease.48-50

Pregnenolone also has calming, anti-stress effects in humans, attributed to its ability to modulate brain receptors for certain neurotransmitters. Remarkably, when used in conjunction with the common anti-anxiety drug diazepam (Valium®), pregnenolone reduced the sedative side effects without affecting the anti-anxiety effects.51

Summary

California’s warning label requirement significantly overstates any risks associated with DHEA and pregnenolone as supplements. Despite the dire wording on the required label, there remains no convincing evidence that either supplement, taken at recommended doses, increases cancer risks in humans.

The other risks mentioned in the required warning label either occur rarely or are reversible (hair growth), occur in well-defined populations who should avoid using the supplements (seizure patients), or have no credible basis in the peer-reviewed literature (cardiovascular risk, lipid disturbances, vision disturbances, dizziness).

On the other hand, millions of people worldwide have been using both supplements for more than two decades, during which time no serious adverse events have ever been reported in the world literature or in the FDA’s intense adverse event monitoring system.11

Readers should understand that the cautions on labels of DHEA and pregnenolone supplements reflect an “abundance of caution” on the part of the California rule-makers…or perhaps the wishes of pharmaceutical lobbyists who fear too many people are protecting themselves against age-related disease by maintaining youthful hormone balances.

The overwhelming evidence in the global, peer-reviewed literature suggests exactly the opposite, namely that these supplements are safe and effective when used as directed by health-conscious adults.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

WHAT GERMANY KNOWS THAT CALIFORNIA DOESN’T

Here is an example of a published abstract of a study on DHEA from a German scientific journal. Apparently, the authors at the Department Trauma Surgery, University Hospital of Essen in Germany know something that the California authorities don’t know. First of all, the study states that “DHEA…is free of major side effects….” Secondly, they point out that DHEA may be a significant therapy for trauma and that “several data demonstrate the beneficial effect of DHEA in situations of critical illness including trauma hemorrhage and sepsis. Accordingly DHEA improved the survival rate and clinical situation in several animal models of trauma hemorrhage and systemic inflammation.”

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): a steroid with multiple effects. Is there any possible option in the treatment of critical illness?52

Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(11):1039-47.

Oberbeck R, Kobbe P.

Department Trauma Surgery, University Hospital of Essen, Hufeland Str. 55, 45141 Essen, Germany. reineroberbeck@hotmail.com

Abstract

DHEA is the major circulating steroid in human blood and it is a central intermediate in the metabolic pathway of sex steroid hormone formation. Although the specific effect of DHEA is still unclear it was demonstrated that DHEA modulates several physiologic processes including metabolism and cardiovascular function. Furthermore, a profound immunomodulatory effect of DHEA was reported. Several data demonstrate the beneficial effect of DHEA in situations of critical illness including trauma hemorrhage and sepsis. Accordingly DHEA improved the survival rate and clinical situation in several animal models of trauma hemorrhage and systemic inflammation. This effect was paralleled by profound changes of immunologic parameters, organ function, and heat shock protein production. Therefore, it was claimed that DHEA may be a new alternative/additive in the treatment of trauma and sepsis. In line, DHEA is a frequently used drug in the field of anti-aging medicine, it is an over-the-counter drug in several countries, and it was reported that DHEA medication is free of major side effects. Therefore, DHEA could easily be used in a clinical trial investigating its effects in critical ill patients. This article reviews the reported effects of DHEA on the base of the literature with the specific focus on trauma and sepsis/critical illness including its clinical perspectives.

The above abstract is copyrighted and reprinted with permission from Bentham Science Publishers, Ltd.

References
1. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=dehydroepiandrosterone%20. Accessed April 28, 2011.

2. Morgentaler A. Turning conventional wisdom upside-down: Low serum testosterone and high-risk prostate cancer. Cancer. 2011 Mar 1.

3. Morgentaler A, Lipshultz LI, Bennett R, Sweeney M, Avila D Jr., Khera M. Testosterone therapy in men with untreated prostate cancer. J Urol. 2011 Feb 18.

4. Rhoden EL, Gobbi D, Rhoden CR, et al. Effects of chronic administration of dehydroepiandrosterone on serum testosterone levels and prostatic tissue in rats. J Urol. 2003 Nov;170(5):2101-3.

5. Mueck AO, Seeger H, Buhling KJ. Use of dydrogesterone in hormone replacement therapy. Maturitas. 2009 Dec;65 Suppl 1:S51-60.

6. Seeger H, Mueck AO. Are the progestins responsible for breast cancer risk during hormone therapy in the postmenopause? Experimental vs. clinical data. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2008 Mar;109(1-2):11-5.

7. Hakkak R, Shaaf S, Jo CH, MacLeod S, Korourian S. Dehydroepiandrosterone intake protects against 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumor development in the obese Zucker rat model. Oncol Rep. 2010 Aug;24(2):357-62.

8. Krysiak R, Frysz-Naglak D, Okopień B. Current views on the role of dehydroepiandrosterone in physiology, pathology and therapy. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2008 Jan;24(139):66-71.

9. Dumas de la Roque E, Savineau JP, Bonnet S. Dehydroepiandrosterone: A new treatment for vascular remodeling diseases including pulmonary arterial hypertension. Pharmacol Ther. 2010 May;126(2):186-99.

10. Haffner SM, Valdez RA. Endogenous sex hormones: impact on lipids, lipoproteins, and insulin. Am J Med. 1995 Jan 16;98(1A):40S-47S.

11. Labrie F. DHEA, important source of sex steroids in men and even more in women. Prog Brain Res. 2010;182:97-148.

12. Sanchez J, Perez-Heredia F, Priego T, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone prevents age-associated alterations, increasing insulin sensitivity. J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Dec;19(12):809-18.

13. Ravaglia G, Forti P, Maioli F, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate serum levels and common age-related diseases: results from a cross-sectional Italian study of a general elderly population. Exp Gerontol. 2002 May;37(5):701-12.

14. Defay R, Pinchinat S, Lumbroso S, Sutan C, Delcourt C. Sex steroids and age-related macular degeneration in older French women: the POLA study. Ann Epidemiol. 2004 Mar;14(3):202-8.

15. Tamer C, Oksuz H, Sogut S. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate level in age-related macular degeneration. Am J Ophthalmol. 2007 Feb;143(2):212-16.

16. Defay R, Pinchinat S, Lumbroso S, Sultan C, Papoz L, Delcourt C. Relationships between hormonal status and cataract in french postmenopausal women: the POLA study. Ann Epidemiol. 2003 Oct;13(9):638-44.

17. Yamamoto T, Yamanaka T, Miyahara H, Matsunaga T. The neurosteroid pregnenolone sulfate excites medial vestibular nucleus neurons. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 1998;533:22-5.

18. Rommler A. Adrenopause and dehydroepiandrosterone: pharmacological therapy versus replacement therapy. Gynakol Geburtshilfliche Rundsch. 2003 Apr;43(2):79-90.

19. van Vollenhoven RF. Dehydroepiandrosterone for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2002 Jan;3(1):23-31.

20. Reddy DS. Neurosteroids: endogenous role in the human brain and therapeutic potentials. Prog Brain Res. 2010;186:113-37.

21. Reddy DS, Kulkarni SK. Proconvulsant effects of neurosteroids pregnenolone sulfate and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Mar 12;345(1):55-9.

22. Kokate TG, Juhng KN, Kirkby RD, Llamas J, Yamaguchi S, Rogawski MA. Convulsant actions of the neurosteroid pregnenolone sulfate in mice. Brain Res. 1999 Jun 12;831(1-2):119-24.

23. Maciejak P, Czlonkowska AI, Bidzinski A, et al. Pregnenolone sulfate potentiates the effects of NMDA on hippocampal alanine and dopamine. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Aug;78(4):781-6.

24. Williamson J, Mtchedlishvili Z, Kapur J. Characterization of the convulsant action of pregnenolone sulfate. Neuropharmacology. 2004 May;46(6):856-64.

25. Perrini S, Laviola L, Natalicchio A, Giorgino F. Associated hormonal declines in aging: DHEAS. J Endocrinol Invest. 2005;28(3 Suppl):85-93.

26. Johnson MD, Bebb RA, Sirrs SM. Uses of DHEA in aging and other disease states. Ageing Res Rev. 2002 Feb;1(1):29-41.

27. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Orav EJ, Dawson-Hughes B. Additive benefit of higher testosterone levels and vitamin D plus calcium supplementation in regard to fall risk reduction among older men and women. Osteoporos Int. 2008 Sep;19(9):1307-14.

28. Enomoto M, Adachi H, Fukami A, et al. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels predict longevity in men: 27-year follow-up study in a community-based cohort (Tanushimaru study). J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008 Jun;56(6):994-8.

29. Genazzani AR, Pluchino N, Begliuomini S, et al. Long-term low-dose oral administration of dehydroepiandrosterone modulates adrenal response to adrenocorticotropic hormone in early and late postmenopausal women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2006 Nov;22(11):627-35.

30. Forsblad-d’Elia H, Carlsten H, Labrie F, Konttinen YT, Ohlsson C. Low serum levels of sex steroids are associated with disease characteristics in primary Sjogren’s syndrome; supplementation with dehydroepiandrosterone restores the concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Jun;94(6):2044-51.

31. Weiss EP, Shah K, Fontana L, Lambert CP, Holloszy JO, Villareal DT. Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement therapy in older adults: 1- and 2-y effects on bone. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1459-67.

32. Kenny AM, Boxer RS, Kleppinger A, Brindisi J, Feinn R, Burleson JA. Dehydroepiandrosterone combined with exercise improves muscle strength and physical function in frail older women. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Sep;58(9):1707-14.

33. Binello E, Gordon CM. Clinical uses and misuses of dehydroepiandrosterone. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2003 Dec;3(6):635-41.

34. Buvat J. Androgen therapy with dehydroepiandrosterone. World J Urol. 2003 Nov;21(5):346-55.

35. Stomati M, Monteleone P, Casarosa E, et al. Six-month oral dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation in early and late postmenopause. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2000 Oct;14(5):342-63.

36. Leskiewicz M, Jantas D, Budziszewska B, Lason W. Excitatory neurosteroids attenuate apoptotic and excitotoxic cell death in primary cortical neurons. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Sep;59(3):457-75.

37. Schlienger JL, Perrin AE, Goichot B. DHEA: an unknown star. Rev Med Interne. 2002 May;23(5):436-46.

38. Roglio I, Bianchi R, Gotti S, et al. Neuroprotective effects of dihydroprogesterone and progesterone in an experimental model of nerve crush injury. Neuroscience. 2008 Aug 26;155(3):673-85.

39. Yamada S, Akishita M, Fukai S, et al. Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation on cognitive function and activities of daily living in older women with mild to moderate cognitive impairment. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2010 Oct;10(4):280-7.

40. Shirakawa H, Katsuki H, Kume T, Kaneko S, Akaike A. Pregnenolone sulphate attenuates AMPA cytotoxicity on rat cortical neurons. Eur J Neurosci. 2005 May;21(9):2329-35.

41. Wojtal K, Trojnar MK, Czuczwar SJ. Endogenous neuroprotective factors: neurosteroids. Pharmacol Rep. 2006 May-Jun;58(3):335-40.

42. Jo DH, Abdallah MA, Young J, Baulieu EE, Robel P. Pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and their sulfate and fatty acid esters in the rat brain. Steroids. 1989 Sep;54(3):287-97.

43. Mayo W, Lemaire V, Malaterre J, et al. Pregnenolone sulfate enhances neurogenesis and PSA-NCAM in young and aged hippocampus. Neurobiol Aging. 2005 Jan;26(1):103-14.

44. Marx CE, Keefe RS, Buchanan RW, et al. Proof-of-concept trial with the neurosteroid pregnenolone targeting cognitive and negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Jul;34(8):1885-903.

45. Osuji IJ, Vera-Bolanos E, Carmody TJ, Brown ES. Pregnenolone for cognition and mood in dual diagnosis patients. Psychiatry Res. 2010 Jul 30;178(2):309-12.

46. Ritsner MS. Pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and schizophrenia: alterations and clinical trials. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2010 Spring;16(1):32-44.

47. Ritsner MS, Gibel A, Shleifer T, et al. Pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone as an adjunctive treatment in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: an 8-week, double-blind, randomized, controlled, 2-center, parallel-group trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;71(10):1351-62.

48. Khalsa DS. Integrated medicine and the prevention and reversal of memory loss. Altern Ther Health Med. 1998 Nov;4(6):38-43.

49. Vallee M, Mayo W, Le Moal M. Role of pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone and their sulfate esters on learning and memory in cognitive aging. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2001 Nov;37(1-3):301-12.

50. Akan P, Kizildag S, Ormen M, Genc S, Oktem MA, Fadiloglu M. Pregnenolone protects the PC-12 cell line against amyloid beta peptide toxicity but its sulfate ester does not. Chem Biol Interact. 2009 Jan 15;177(1):65-70.

51. Meieran SE, Reus VI, Webster R, Shafton R, Wolkowitz OM. Chronic pregnenolone effects in normal humans: attenuation of benzodiazepine-induced sedation. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004 May;29(4):486-500.

52. Oberbeck R, Kobbe P. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): a steroid with multiple effects. Is there any possible option in the treatment of critical illness? Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(11):1039-47.

Written: By Julie Trevano

Article Source: http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2011/7/State-of-California-Decrees-Strong-Warning-Labels-on-DHEA-and-Pregnenolone/Page-01

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Oxytocin Enhances Spirituality, New Study Says

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Oxytocin has been dubbed the “love hormone” for its role promoting social bonding, altruism and more. Now new research from Duke University suggests the hormone may also support spirituality.

In the study, men reported a greater sense of spirituality shortly after taking oxytocin and a week later. Participants who took oxytocin also experienced more positive emotions during meditation, said lead author Patty Van Cappellen, a social psychologist at Duke.

“Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and well-being in previous research,” Van Cappellen said. “We were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences.

“Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs.”

Study participants were all male, and the findings apply only to men, said Van Cappellen, associate director of the Interdisciplinary and Behavioral Research Center at Duke’s Social Science Research Institute. In general, oxytocin operates somewhat differently in men and women, Van Cappellen added. Oxytocin’s effects on women’s spirituality still needs to be investigated.

The results appears online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience .

Oxytocin occurs naturally in the body. Produced by the hypothalamus, it acts as a hormone and as a neurotransmitter, affecting many regions of the brain. It is stimulated during sex, childbirth and breastfeeding. Recent research has highlighted oxytocin’s possible role in promoting empathy, trust, social bonding and altruism.

To test how oxytocin might influence spirituality, researchers administered the hormone to one group and a placebo to another. Those who received oxytocin were more likely to say afterwards that spirituality was important in their lives and that life has meaning and purpose. This was true after taking into account whether the participant reported belonging to an organized religion or not.

Participants who received oxytocin were also more inclined to view themselves as interconnected with other people and living things, giving higher ratings to statements such as “All life is interconnected” and “There is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people.”

Study subjects also participated in a guided meditation. Those who received oxytocin reported experiencing more positive emotions during meditation, including awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, interest, love and serenity.

Oxytocin did not affect all participants equally, though. Its effect on spirituality was stronger among people with a particular variant of the CD38 gene, a gene that regulates the release of oxytocin from hypothalamic neurons in the brain.

Van Cappellen cautioned that the findings should not be over-generalized. First of all, there are many definitions of spirituality, she noted.

“Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors,” Van Cappellen said. “However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe.”

Explore further: Oxytocin helps people feel more extraverted

More information: Patty Van Cappellen et al. Effects of oxytocin administration on spirituality and emotional responses to meditation, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (2016). DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsw078

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-09-oxytocin-spirituality.html

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Western Diet Is Deadly For Prostate Cancer Patients

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According to a new study published in Cancer Prevention Research, prostate cancer survivors who consume a typical Western diet consisting of red meat, refined grains, processed foods, and high-fat dairy products may be at an increased risk of death from returning prostate cancer, as well as other causes.*

Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health studied 926 men aged 40 to 84 who were diagnosed with prostate cancer that had not spread. Subjects answered questions about their diets five years after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis and were monitored for approximately 10 years.

The men diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer who ate a diet that was more Westernized, were 2.5 times more likely to die of prostate cancer than those who ate the healthiest diet, and 1.5 times more likely to die of any cause.

“Our results suggest that the same dietary recommendations that are made to the general population primarily for the prevention of cardiovascular disease may also decrease the risk of dying from prostate cancer among men initially diagnosed with nonmetastatic disease (cancer that has not spread),” said study leader Dr. Jorge Chavarro.

Editor’s Note: The researchers say men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer should choose a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber with fewer dairy products and less red meat in order to improve their chances of survival.

Reference
* Cancer Prev Res. 2015 Jun 8.

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For seniors, sexual activity is linked to higher quality of life

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(Reuters Health) – Older adults who value sexual activity and engage in it have better social lives and psychological well-being, according to a small study in Scotland.

Older adults said “they miss and want to engage in sexual behaviors, whether that be a kiss to intercourse,” said study coauthor Taylor-Jane Flynn in an email. “For many, these behaviors remained an important element in their life.”

Flynn, a psychology PhD candidate at Glasgow Caledonian University, said the study was inspired by her work as a health care assistant for elderly people.

Although quality of life is a key consideration for older adults, sexuality is rarely studied, write Flynn and Alan Gow, an associate professor of psychology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, in the journal Age and Ageing.

The researchers recruited 133 Scottish adults aged 65 and over by distributing questionnaires at local clubs, small businesses and older people’s groups.

About half the participants lived with a spouse or partner.

The questionnaire asked how often in the last six months participants had engaged in six sexual behaviors: touching/holding hands, embracing/hugging, kissing, mutual stroking, masturbation and intercourse.

Participants also rated how important those behaviors are to them, on a five-point scale ranging from “not at all important” to “very important.”

Additionally, the questionnaires assessed participants’ quality of life based on physical health, psychological health, social relationships and environment.

Between 75 and 89 percent said they’d engaged in kissing, hugging and holding hands or touching. Men and women scored about the same for frequency and importance of sexual behaviors overall, and for quality of life.

Although people with frequent sexual activity also placed higher importance on it, the analysis found the two measures were associated with different aspects of quality of life.

Participants reporting more frequent sexual behavior rated their social relationships as higher quality, while people who found sexual activity to be important had higher scores for psychological quality of life.

Overall, however, seniors’ health status had the strongest impact on all aspects of quality of life.

John DeLamater, a sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, said the fact that participants were recruited in community settings – which may attract more healthy and active older people – might affect the results.

“If they are generally healthier (which the results show to be associated with quality of life), they are probably more sexually active,” DeLamater said in an email.

For people who have valued sexuality throughout their lives, he noted, “continuing activity provides protection against a sense of aging and loss, and of continuity if the person is in a long-term relationship.” That may explain the links between sex and well-being found in the study, he said.

While the current study only looked at associations and cannot determine whether sexuality raises quality of life, Gow noted, he hopes that future research will focus more on this subject.

“What we hope is that our current findings encourage other researchers interested in the determinants of health and well-being in older adults to also consider sexual behaviors,” Gow said in an email.

The sexuality of older people should be considered and encouraged, DeLamater said. “We should encourage couples to spend time alone, provide arrangements in care facilities that enable sexual intimacy, provide sexual health information in medical settings.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1CXCiLh Age and Ageing, online July 14, 2015.

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GRIP STRENGTH INDICATES DIABETES, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

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 GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Researchers at the University of Florida have discovered a correlation between grip strength and diabetes and high blood pressure.
The study has been published online ahead of the print version in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers measured the grip strength in normal-weight but high-fat-ratio adults with no history of cardiovascular disease and compared it to the grip strength of normal weight, normal BMI adults and with diagnosed diabetics. The subjects were then tested for A1c levels.

Findings show those who had undiagnosed diabetes measured with a lower grip strength than did individuals who were not diabetic or did not suffer from hypertension.

The results show the weakened grip condition was shown in subjects who had a body mass index within the normal range, but a high proportion of fat to lean muscle. Those percentages for men were more than 25 percent body fat, and for women 35 percent.

This is a subgroup less likely to be screened for hypertension or diabetes because they aren’t considered overweight or obese by BMI measures alone.

The researchers have concluded grip strength is lower in individuals with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes and hypertension, and may be an indicator of these diseases in the undiagnosed.

http://www.ajpmonline.org/action/showMultipleAbstracts

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The Smart Way to Build a Fat-Loss Diet

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Article Written by Layne Norton and Sohee Lee 07/29/2015

Smart fat loss isn’t about seeing what you can survive. Crash dieting is a recipe for burnout, metabolic adaptation, and even fat gain. Layne Norton and Sohee Lee have a better way to earn results that last!

The wait is over! In our last article, “How Your Fat-Loss Diet Could Be Making You Fat,” we laid out the problems with the age-old “eat less and exercise more” mantra of fat loss. The more strictly you diet, and the more times you try to diet, the more efficient your metabolism becomes. This sounds encouraging at first, but it’s actually pretty grim. It means our bodies burn fewer calories for any given activity. This is great for survival purposes, but not for those of us who are intentionally attempting to shed body fat.

Further complicating things, your hunger level often increases during weight loss, satiety decreases, and the body desperately tries to shove you back up to your body-fat set point. This point, you may recall, is your body’s customary level of body fat. While you may think that hard training and strict dieting would inevitably push that point down, the popular yo-yo-diet model can actually push it up—meaning your body is trying to get fatter, not leaner.

When this happens—when, despite low calories, consistent workouts, and an overall diligent fitness program, forward progress of any kind is nowhere to be seen—the body is said to be “metabolically adapted.”

But not all hope is lost! As promised, here is how you can lower your body-fat set point, conquer metabolic adaptation, and find a fat-loss approach that lasts.

SOLUTION 1 START YOUR DIET ON THE RIGHT FOOT

Preventing metabolic adaptation starts with setting up an appropriate diet in the first place. This starts with a single idea that you need to take to heart: Diet on as many calories as you can get away with while still making progress.

Less is not better; sustainable progress is better. For everybody, that is going to be a different number, and if you’re accustomed to the “diet on as few calories as possible” approach, it will probably take you some time and struggles to find yours.

If you’ve been restricting food but not counting calories—this is more common than you might think—then our first recommendation is to perform an honest audit of your current intake. Spend the next three days tracking your daily macronutrients—that is, number of grams of protein, carbs, and fats—and establish a caloric baseline. You can use the old pen-and-paper method, or utilize any of the popular nutrition-tracking apps like MyMacros+ or MyFitnessPal. More importantly, don’t change yet. Do your best to be as honest as possible about what and how much you truly eat.

Once you’ve got that number, it’s time to tweak it. Most people will find that dieting on a bodyweight multiplier of 12 for total calories is a good starting point. In other words, take your body weight in pounds and multiply that by 12 to determine your total intake for the day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, then 1,800 calories per day will be your goal for fat loss. If you started far lower than bodyweight-times-12 in the past, that could be precisely what led you down the road to adaptation.

SOLUTION 2 ADD CALORIES BACK IN, BUT SLOWLY

So you’re systematically working your calories downward and seeing results. What next? Should you stay down there forever? Definitely not. Should you unhinge your jaw and Garfield your way through the nearest buffet? Not this time.

Consider approaching your diet like powerlifters approach peaking for a meet. If they know they can deadlift 700 for one rep, they don’t just hit that one rep over and over for every future workout. They touch it briefly and occasionally, then systematically work their way back down to a level where they can rack up plenty of quality reps. Truly strong people know that those easier reps are the ones that make the hard ones possible.

The dieting equivalent of this approach is the reverse diet. Reverse dieting is a method by which an individual methodically raises his or her calorie intake in order to bring a suppressed metabolism back up to speed, but without piling on excess body fat. This is ideal for those who would prefer not to have to hide in offseason sweatpants. Sohee discusses this further in her article, “4 Reasons Your Best Diet Might Be a Reverse Diet.”

Admittedly, there is currently no definitive research on reverse dieting. However, we’re confident that will change. Based on our observations from working with hundreds of clients—and ourselves—we’re convinced that raising calories slowly reduces fat accumulation in the long term.

HOW SLOW SHOULD I GO?

The rate at which you choose to increase your calories in a reverse diet is highly dependent on you—your history, your comfort level, your goals, and your recent experiences. This point can’t be emphasized enough.

You may be wondering, “Can’t I just go back up to maintenance calories when I’m done dieting?” Here’s the problem: If maintenance calories were truly maintenance, you would by definition not gain weight. But in reality, metabolism is highly variable. What may have been your maintenance calories one month ago might have since changed. For this reason, we don’t recommend being so quick to spike your intake.

When considering how slowly or quickly to increase your caloric intake, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How low did my caloric intake drop?
  • What was my bodyweight multiplier by the end of the diet?
  • How do I feel at this current intake?
  • How much potential body-fat gain am I comfortable with?

The lower your calories, the crummier you feel, and the more lenient you are with a little extra cushion, the more aggressive you may want to be with your calorie bumps. Otherwise, if you’d prefer to take it slow and be a little more cautious, take the more conservative route.

What does this mean in action? Some people are just fine bumping up their carbohydrate and fat intake by 2-10 percent per week, while others benefit from a more aggressive rate. If you were in a steep caloric deficit at the conclusion of the diet, tossing in 200-500 calories right off the bat may be necessary.

Keep in mind that a reverse diet isn’t supposed to feel “slightly less awful.” Do it right, and you should actually feelgood, both physically and mentally. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

SOLUTION 3 FIND SMALL CHANGES TO BOOST ADHERENCE

Hopefully we’ve convinced you by now that the “on my diet/off my diet” dance is dooming your results. Adherence is how lasting results get achieved. And if you find that your dietary adherence has not been on point, consider shaking up your target macronutrient numbers.

For example, if you are consistently overshooting your carbohydrate intake because you find yourself feeling particularly depleted, why not simply bump up your target carbohydrate number? Rather than fight an uphill battle and try to force yourself to stick to a lower intake that leaves you feeling like dirt, look for ways to build confidence and momentum by increasing your adherence.

Remember, this isn’t supposed to be punishment! The more adherent you are, the more encouraged you will feel. And the more encouraged you feel, the more you’ll enjoy the journey. And at the end of the day, it’s crucial to fall in love with the process.

No matter how hard any of us might try, we can’t separate physiology from psychology. The two go hand in hand, and it would be irresponsible to ignore one side of the equation. Treat yourself right along the way, and you’ll earn better results and appreciate them more!

Article from: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-smart-way-to-build-a-fat-loss-diet.html

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