Archive for July, 2010

Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends

July 28, 2010

It is true that having a social network of friends, family, and colleagues is good for your health.  Several studies have confirmed that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties. The boost in longevity is greater than differences in the risk of death associated with many other well-known lifestyle factors, including lack of exercise and obesity.  So if you decide not to exercise and want to continue to eat and drink and be merry, then you need to balance these lifestyles behaviors by developing and maintaining social relationships.  You’ll live longer and so will your friends!

For more information on this study go to:

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2006938,00.html?xid=rss-topstories#ixzz0uzEt83hZ

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“Just Say No” to Sex…Before Your Next PSA Test

July 27, 2010

For men over age 50 who are going to have a PSA test for prostate cancer, ejaculation within the past two days may artificially raise PSA levels. Men should be aware of the time of their last ejaculation and tell their doctors the last time they had an ejaculation in case results are high. Finally, while the digital rectal exam or other aspects of a prostate exam shouldn’t interfere with PSA levels, I suggest that blood be drawn before the rectal exam as a precaution.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Your Heart

July 25, 2010

Men with ED are twice as likely to have heart disease than men without ED.  Men with ED who are less than 40 years of age are seven times more likely to have heart disease than men the same age without ED.

A study reported that there is a window of 2-5 years between the onset of ED and a significant cardiac event like a heart attack.

Bottom Line:  If you have ED, you may have asymptomatic heart disease, which needs to be diagnosed and treated in order to prevent a heart attack.

Source Journal of the American College of Cardiologists, Volume 51, 2008.

A Sick “Dick” Can Be a Sign of Heart Disease

July 25, 2010

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a high risk factor for heart disease.  Men who have a history of ED are more likely to have a high risk of coronary artery disease and having a heart attach than men without ED.  Why is this so?  The size of the arteries that supply the penis with oxygen and nutrients to the erectile tissue of the penis is about 1\32 of an inch in diameter while the size of the of blood vessels that supply to heart muscle or the coronary arteries is much larger or about 1\8 of an inch.  Therefore, symptoms due to narrowing of the blood vessels in the penis, such as ED, will occur sooner than symptoms, such as chest pain or a heart attach, due to narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart.

Bottom Line:  If you are experiencing ED, see your doctor and consider getting EKG and a stress test to be certain that you don’t have early coronary artery disease that can be treated.

Getting Up At Night to Pee May be Hazardous to Your Health

July 25, 2010

Nocturia or getting up at night to urinate is associated with an increased risk of death.  Both men and women who get up at night to urinate are at increased risk of dying compared to men and women who don’t have to get up at night to urinate.  Also, it has been shown that the more a man or women gets up at night to urinate, the greater the risk or dying.  Although the exact mechanism is not known, it may be related to sleep deprivation, which may have an adverse effect on metabolic function leading to obesity and diabetes both of which are known risk factors for mortality or dying.

Bottom Line: If you are getting up at night to urinate, see your doctor as testing can identify the cause and treatment can be started to cure or to certainly decrease the number of times you get up to go to the bathroom.

PSA, PCA3 and Pee

July 25, 2010

At the present time the only way to screen for prosate cancer is the digital rectal exam and a blood test, PSA or prostate specific antigen.  Now a urine test is available to detect prostate cancer.  The PCA3 measures a gene produced by prostate cancer cells in the urine.  A positive PCA3 is helpful for men who have an elevated PSA test, which can be elevated due to benign causes such as benign enlargement of the prostate gland or prostate infections, decide that they may need a prostate biopsy.  Or the PCA3 test can be useful if the test is positive and the prostate biopsy is negative which may indicate that the cancer was missed during the biopsy.  It is hopeful that the PCA3 test will be helpful to differentiate slow growing cancer from a cancer that is more aggressive and more malignant and help the patient make a better decision regarding treatment.

Bottom Line: New and better tests are being discovered that will help diagnose prostate cancer.  PCA3 urine test is one of those new tests soon to be available from your urologist.

The Real Skinny On PSA Testing For Prostate Cancer

July 4, 2010

There are nearly 30,000 deaths due to prostate cancer each year in the United States.  To put that number in perspective that’s half the capacity of the Super Dome in New Orleans (home to the New Orleans Saints!)  However, if prostate cancer is detected early, it is curable.  Recently, PSA testing has come under controversy.  Researches from Sweden compared PSA screening vs. no screening and concluded that screening does, indeed, cut the deaths due to prostate cancer.

The researches concluded:

.Prostate cancer was diagnosed in 11.4% of the screening group vs. 7.2% of the control group.

.Among men with detected prostate cancer in the screening group, 78.7% were diagnosed as a result of enrolling in the study.

.Cancers were detected on average earlier in the screening group

The Bottom Line: The findings suggest the benefits of prostate cancer screening can outweigh the risks.  My suggestion is that all men over age 50 should be tested annually.