Testosterone therapy improves insulin sensitivity in diabetic men

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The January 2016 issue of the journal Diabetes Care reported the outcome of a randomized trial that revealed a beneficial role for testosterone treatment in men with diabetes.

“We hypothesized that testosterone may be an anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitizing agent since it has been known for some time that testosterone reduces adiposity and increases skeletal muscle,” remarked lead researcher Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD, who is a Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York and chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo. “Our previous work has shown that obesity is associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, and inflammatory mediators are known to interfere with insulin signaling.”

The trial included 94 type 2 diabetic men, among whom 44 had low testosterone levels and reduced insulin signaling genes indicative of decreased insulin sensitivity. Participants with low testosterone received a weekly testosterone injection or a placebo for 24 weeks. Body weight, body fat, markers of inflammation, insulin sensitivity and other factors were assessed before and after treatment.

At the end of the trial, men who received testosterone experienced a more than six pound average loss of body fat and an equal increase in muscle mass. They also had lower levels of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein, interleukin-1b and tumor necrosis factor-a. “Most importantly, we saw a dramatic increase in insulin sensitivity, demonstrated by a 32 percent increase in the uptake of glucose by tissues in response to insulin,” Dr Dandona reported.

“Testosterone treatment for men, where indicated, will improve sexual function and increase skeletal muscle strength and bone density,” Dr Dandona noted. “This is the first definitive evidence that testosterone is an insulin sensitizer and hence a metabolic hormone.”

Article Source: http://www.lifeextension.com/WhatsHot/2015/11/November-Whats-Hot-Articles/Page-01#test

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Exercise May Improve Male Fertility

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Infertility is recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).1

Defined as the inability to conceive a child after one year of unprotected sex, infertility affects approximately 1 out of every 8 couples.2

Approximately 90 percent of male infertility is due to low sperm count or poor sperm quality, and the remaining 10 percent are the result of structural abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, genetic defects or other problems.3 Sperm abnormalities are critical to infertility and the health of a resulting pregnancy.

While much media attention has been placed on the necessity for women to care for their bodies prior to pregnancy, research has demonstrated the need for men to care for themselves in the same way to prevent birth defects, miscarriages and infertility.

Recent research now indicates that exercise may improve quality and quantity of sperm in men who were previously sedentary.4

Exercise May Improve Sperm Quality and Quantity

In a study completed in Iran, researchers evaluated the effect of four different levels of exercise on sperm quality in sedentary men. Of the couples struggling with infertility, 1 in 3 are the result of poor sperm quality.5

In this study, researchers from Urmia University evaluated the sperm of 261 healthy men over six months.

The participants were first determined to be otherwise healthy, between 25 and 40 years of age, and didn’t regularly participate in an exercise program. They were then separated into the following four groups:6

  • No exercise
  • Three workouts a week of high-intensity training on a treadmill (HIIT)
  • Three workouts a week of 30 minutes moderate-intensity continuous training on a treadmill (MICT)
  • Three workouts a week of one-hour high-intensity continuous training on a treadmill (HICT)

The researchers used semen samples before, during and after the six-month exercise period to evaluate sperm motility, size, morphology (shape), count, semen volume and levels of inflammatory markers.

After 24 weeks, it was the MICT group who experienced the greatest improvements, although the HICT and HIIT groups also experienced improvement over the group who did not exercise.7

The MICT group had a greater than 8 percent rise in semen volume, over 12 percent improvement in sperm motility, 17 percent improvement in morphology and just over 21 percent more sperm cells on average.8

However, while the men enjoyed these improvements during the exercise program, the sperm count, concentration and morphology began dropping back to pre-workout levels within a week after stopping. Lead author of the study, Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki commented:9

“Our results show that doing exercise can be a simple, cheap and effective strategy for improving sperm quality in sedentary men.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that the reason some men can’t have children isn’t just based on their sperm count. Male infertility problems can be complex and changing lifestyles might not solve these cases easily.”

Moderate Exercise Increases Sperm Quality

The authors of the study theorized that although weight loss achieved by the men during the six months of the study was likely to have contributed to improving sperm quality, the men participating in MICT may have experienced the greatest impact as MICT reduces exposure to inflammatory agents and oxidative stress.10

Scientists have determined that exposure to electromagnetic fields, increased heat, poor nutrition, obesity, drugs, alcohol and bicycling may reduce sperm quality, and theorize that reducing these factors and improving health would then improve sperm health.

Another study of 31 men, 16 of whom were active (but did not bike) and 15 sedentary, underwent a shorter evaluation of sperm quality,11 using the WHO’s sperm quality parameters, including volume, count, motility and morphology.12

Researchers found physically active men had a higher concentration of sperm, semen volume and a higher percentage of sperm with normal morphology.

In a previous study, these same authors found men who engaged in intense exercise instead experienced a reduction in sperm quality, but moderate exercise appeared to be linked to improve sperm quality.

Researchers from the most recent study also found that moderate activity, as described in their study parameters, yielded better results. The researchers commented:13

“The present study adds to this body of evidence and shows seminal markers of inflammation and oxidative stress improved significantly after 24 weeks of MICT, HICT or HIIT, and these changes correspond with favorable improvements in semen quality parameters and sperm DNA integrity.

These results further indicate that MICT was more beneficial in improving markers of male reproductive function, compared to HICT and HIIT.

These observations suggest that the intensity, duration and type of exercise training could be taken into consideration when investigating reproductive responses to exercise training in men.”

Male Infertility Responsible for 30 Percent of Cases

Allan Pacey, Ph.D., and fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), is the British Fertility Society spokesman and professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield. He also commented on the research results and how they may affect fertility:14

“In this context, the study makes a good contribution to the knowledge base. It is a very well conducted and a strength is that it is a randomized controlled trial with extensive data collection.

Also, the study examines how exercise affects many of the parameters of male reproductive health, not just sperm quality. However, what is likely to be of most interest to men and their doctors are the results concerning sperm quality.

Importantly, these seem to show a statistical improvement to various degrees when the men embarked on their different exercise regimes compared to men who did no exercise at all. However, an important question is whether these statistical changes are enough to be of any clinical significance.”

Male infertility contributes to 30 percent of all infertility cases.15 Of the four major causes of male infertility, between 40 percent and 50 percent of poor sperm quality is attributed to unknown factors. Male infertility is a complex condition encompassing both the health of the sperm and the mechanical functioning of the male reproductive system.16

Testing for male infertility includes a semen sample analysis, blood work, physical examination and an evaluation for any current infections or structural damage from past infections. Although frustrating to a couple trying to conceive a child, the risk of poor sperm quality extends beyond the inability to conceive.

Risks Associated With Poor Sperm Quality

Sperm motility, or the ability of sperm to move quickly and in a straight line, is one factor associated with sperm quality. Sperm that are sluggish or move poorly may be associated with DNA fragmentation, and the potential risk for passing genetic diseases.17There is also some evidence that male infertility may be a risk factor for testicular cancer.18

Recurrent miscarriages may be attributed to chromosomal damage to either the egg or the sperm,19 and reduced sperm quality is associated with congenital deformities.20 Chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm may contribute to poor sperm quality.

The risks of poor quality sperm also extend to the health of the man. Defects in sperm quality are linked to a variety of health concerns, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and skin and glandular disorders.21 Lead researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg, assistant professor of urology and director of reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford School of Medicine, commented that “[i]t may be that infertility is a marker for sickness overall.”22

A study evaluating more than 9,000 men with fertility issues found a correlation between defects in a man’s sperm and the likelihood he suffers from other health conditions.23 A previous study Eisenberg co-authored also indicated that men who experienced infertility issues had an overall higher rate of mortality in the following years. According to Eisenberg:24

“A man’s health is strongly correlated with his semen quality. Given the high incidence of infertility, we need to take a broader view. As we treat men’s infertility, we should also assess their overall health. That visit to a fertility clinic represents a big opportunity to improve their treatment for other conditions, which we now suspect could actually help resolve the infertility they came in for in the first place.”

Natural Sperm Boosting Options

While moderate exercise may help to improve sperm quality, there are other lifestyle choices that may help to enhance the improvements you experience. Infertility is a complex condition that is intimately incorporated the rest of your health. You may improve your sperm quality as you also improve your overall health and wellness.

Use Moderate-Intensity Continuous Exercise While Trying to Conceive

Although HIIT is a healthy adjunct to an exercise program, the increased heat and oxidative stress on your body may produce time-limited changes to your sperm quality, and reduce your potential to conceive.

Reduce Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Unprecedented decline in fertility rates and semen quality in the past decade may be attributed to exposure to phthalates in your environment.25 Animal studies have demonstrated an association between phthalates and testicular toxicity26 and lowered sperm count.27 Other chemicals to avoid include paint fumes, pesticides, formaldehyde, organic solvents and dry cleaning chemicals.

Optimize Your Vitamin D Level

Low vitamin D levels have been linked to infertility in both men and women. In men it is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count.

Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. Aim to maintain a level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) year-round.

Maintain Your Weight Within Normal Limits Through a Whole Food Diet

Obesity changes male hormone levels, which has a direct impact on sperm molecular composition and function.28 Use fresh foods as often as possible, ideally organically grown, to avoid pesticides. Seek out pastured, organic meat and dairy products, raw nuts, seeds and vegetables, and avoid dangerous trans fats found in many processed foods and vegetable oils.

Reduce or Eliminate Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs

Each of these creates an added stress on your body with demonstrated reduction in fertility, sperm motility and quality.

Avoid the Heat

Sperm require a specific temperature to remain active and viable. Avoid wearing tight underwear and tight pants, taking hot showers or baths and sitting in hot tubs. Keep your laptop off your lap as the increased heat from the machine also increases the temperature of your scrotum.29

Your body will naturally keep your sperm at the right temperature when you avoid circumstances that abnormally increase the temperature of your scrotum.

Avoid Placing Your Mobile Phone in Your Front Pants Pocket

Research shows mobile phone radiation increases DNA fragmentation and reduces sperm motility.30

Written By: Dr. Mercola http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/12/23/exercise-improve-male-fertility.aspx

 

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Green Tea May Reduce Men’s Cancer Risk

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Supplements of green tea extract may reduce prostate cancer risk, among men with lesions or neoplasia.

Green tea (Camelia sinensis) is an abundant source of antioxidants – notably, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Previous studies have suggested that supplements of green tea extract may confer a variety of cardiovascular and cancer protective effects. Nagi B. Kumar, from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute (Florida, United States), and colleagues enrolled 97 men who had premalignant prostate lesions or high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia.  Tracking for changes in  high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) and/or atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP), study participants were randomly assigned to receive either a supplement containing green tea extract (400 mg EGCG), or placebo, for one year. The researchers observed that the man who receive the green tea supplement experienced reduced combined rates of HGPIN/ASAP, as well as decreased levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The study authors report that: ” Daily intake of a standardized, decaffeinated catechin mixture containing 400 mg EGCG per day for 1 year accumulated in plasma and was well tolerated but did not reduce the likelihood of PCa in men with baseline [high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia] or [atypical small acinar proliferation].”

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/green-tea-may-reduce-mens-cancer-risk/

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Last Song Syndrome? Why Catchy Songs Get Stuck In Your Head, Plus How To Get Rid Of Earworm

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Many of us have experienced last song syndrome: We get in the car, turn on the radio, and hear the same top 40 songs on repeat every hour. Suddenly, we catch ourselves humming the melody of a song, and hear it play on a continuous loop in our heads. So, what makes some songs catchier than others?

Researchers at Durham University suggest some songs are more likely to stay with us based on their melodic content.

“These musically sticky songs seem to have quite a fast tempo along with a common melodic shape and unusual intervals or repetitions like we can hear in the opening riff of Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple or in the chorus of Bad Romance by Lady Gaga” said Dr. Kelly Jakubowski, lead author of the study from the Department of Music at Durham University, in a statement.

About 90 percent of us experience an earworm at least once a week, with some of us having them more than others, according to Jakubowski. It normally happens at times when the brain is not doing much, such as being in the shower, walking, or doing chores.

In the study, published in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, researchers identified three distinct characteristics that make up an earworm: pace, shape of the melody, and a few unique intervals.

In terms of pace, earworms are faster and more upbeat in tempo and have rhythm people could move to. For example, previous research has found songs on a running or workout playlist tend to transport athletes into a state known as “flow,” which is when people are completely immersed in what they’re doing and feel as if they’re functioning on autopilot. Typically, a workout playlist will start with warmup and stretching music, and then transition to cardio songs, which gradually increase in intensity. The playlist migrates to strength-training tunes, and then concludes with mellow cool-down songs.

These songs are also more likely to be earworms, because of their gradual increase in intensity, followed by a decrease, and increase in between.

A song’s melodic contour, or musical shape determines whether it’s an earworm. These songs are simple in structure, but possess a rhythmic pattern. For example, the nursery rhyme “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” rises in pitch, but it goes back down low and then rises again as a partner. This easy-to-remember melody makes a song an inevitable earworm.

A more recent example is Maroon 5’s opening riff of “Moves Like Jagger,” one of the top-named earworm tunes in the study. It follows a common contour pattern of rising then falling in pitch.

Lastly, an earworm song possesses unusual interval structure, such as some unexpected leaps or more repeated notes than we would hear in the “average pop song.” The instrumental riff of The Knack’s “My Sharona” contains an unusual interval structure.

To obtain this data, the researchers used an online survey to ask 3,000 people for their most frequent earworm tunes. They compared them to tunes that had never been named as earworms in the database, but were a match in terms of popularity, and how often they were in the UK Music Charts. Melodic features of earworm and non-earworm tunes were analyzed and compared. The songs were limited to popular music genres, such as pop, rock, rap, rhythm & blues. (R&B).

The most frequently named earworms included:

Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minogue

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye

Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5

California Gurls – Katy Perry

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Alejandro – Lady Gaga

Poker Face – Lady Gaga

“We now also know that, regardless of the chart success of a song, there are certain features of the melody that make it more prone to getting stuck in people’s heads like some sort of private musical screensaver,” said Jakubowski.

So, how do we get these earworms out of our heads?

A 2015 study in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology claims that chewing gum provides a simple solution. In a series of experiments, participants who were given gum to chew reported fewer earworms than those who weren’t. The researchers hypothesize since our vocal apparatus is involved in singing, when our jaws are otherwise engaged, our ability to imagine music is impaired.

At least we have a better understanding why we still can’t get Kylie Minogue’s 2002 hit song “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” out of our heads.

Source: Jakubowski et al. “Dissecting an earworm: Melodic features and song popularity predict involuntary musical imagery”. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. 2016.

Article Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/last-song-syndrome-why-catchy-songs-get-stuck-your-head-plus-how-get-rid-403436

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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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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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