Archive for October, 2010

Take Vitamin D and See-A Vitamin You Can’t Be Without

October 26, 2010

In the past vitamin D was thought to be responsible for growth and stability of your bones.  Now we have found that vitamin D is responsible for a dozen other medical conditions including stroke, depression, asthma, high blood pressure, heart attacks, prostate cancer as well as osteoporosis or weak bones.

Vitamin D is readily available from you skin which makes Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight.  Just 10-15 minutes of sunlight twice a week is usually sufficient to generate all the vitamin D you need.  However, excessive exposure may increase your risk of skin cancer.  Unfortunately as people get older the skin is not as effective to make vitamin D and older people need vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D is available in cod liver oil, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna fish.  Egg yolks, cereals, and fortified milk are other sources.  Supplements containing 1000-2000 international units are usually helpful sources of the vitamin if you can’t get adequate amounts through your food.  Vitamin D supplements are best taken with the largest meal of the day as food appears to help the absorption of the vitamin.

Doctors can check your vitamin D level with a blood test.  A blood level of less than 20ng\ml indicates a deficiency while levels 21-29ng\ml indicate a vitamin insufficiency and should require supplementation.

Bottom Line: Vitamin D deficiency is more common than we thought and can lead to more than soft bones.  Get your vitamin D level check at least annually and if you are “down a pint” put some back in your tank with inexpensive supplements.

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Take Two and Call Me In the Morning-Not Aspirin, But Sex

October 25, 2010

In the past, this blog focuses on wellness, exercise, and mental health.  In this issue I will devote to the benefits of having intimacy with your partner.  Who would ever imagine that an activity that is so much fun could be so beneficial to your health.

Sexual intimacy is a form of exercise.  Each time that you engage in the sex act you burn approximately 100 calories.  Of course, if you have sex like Lady Chatterly’s Lover, then it’s a lot more.  Now 100 calories a pop doesn’t sound like much, but if you engage in sex 2-3 times a week, that’s 5000-7500 calories a year.  That’s equivalent to the energy required to jog from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama.

In addition to the aerobic work out of huffing and puffing and increasing your heart rate, sexual activity provides resistance training.  This is the contraction of the muscles of the back, pelvis, and extremities against passive resistance.

Another advantage of regular sex is that it can actually lower your total cholesterol level, and increase the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or the good cholesterol.  So if you indulge yourself in an extra steak with butter, indulge yourself in extra sex and you’ll be calorically even.

Sex also jump-starts your hormones.  Men can have a surge of testosterone during sex.  Testosterone is the hormone produced in the testicles that is responsible for libido or sex drive, muscle mass, and strength of bones.  Regular sex increases the level of estrogen in women which results in increase in the blood supply to the vagina keeping the vaginal tissues young, supple and moist.  There is even evidence that sex prior to or at the time of the menstrual period may relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  There are other studies that suggests that oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland during sexual intimacy, contributes to long-term bonding between partners.

Sexual intimacy also results in the release of endorphins which is the ultimate painkiller or analgesic.  Endorphins are many times more potent that morphine, the most powerful man-made analgesic in use for the relief of pain.  So the next time you have a headache, don’t turn down sex but turn on and your relief is just a few minutes in the sack away.  There’s even a scientific explanation for the relief of headache pain with sex.  During sex there is an increase in the blood supply to the muscles and the genital organs.  As a result there is a decrease in the blood supply to the brain thus taking the pressure off of the tension in the brain.

For men, sexual intimacy is protective for the prostate.  Prostate infections and prostate enlargement, which begins after the age of 50 in most men, result in compression of the urethra, the tube in the penis that allows transmission of urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  As a result men complain of difficulty with urination.   For dozens of years,  older men have gone to the doctor to have their prostate gland massaged to express the retained secretions that produce many of the symptoms of prostate disease.  For most men this is uncomfortable and expensive if you don’t have Medicare or insurance to pay for the doctor’s visit.  One inexpensive and fun way to relieve these symptoms produced by an enlarged prostate gland is to engage in sexual intimacy either through intercourse or even masturbation.   Both will produce prostate pleasing results.  So if you want to be good to your prostate gland, be good to your significant other….in bed.

Sex is good for stress.  Never let the sun set on an argument.  Having sex is an effective method of reducing the tensions that exist between partners.  You can’t be arguing when you are having good sex.

So for those of you who are not interested in going to the YMCA or a health club, you can have the benefits of a health club not in your own back yard but in your bedroom.   There are naysayers that say this is fooey. Take Two and Call Me In the Morning-Not Aspirin, But Sex. For those of you who need more motivation, give me a call and I’ll write you a prescription!

An Apple a Day May Keep the Doctor Away-and Proscar or Avodart May Keep Prostate Cancer at Bay

October 23, 2010

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin malignancy in men and is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer, except for lung cancer. However, microscopic evidence of prostate cancer is found at autopsy in many if not most men. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that about 218,890 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States during 2007. About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only 1 man in 34 will die of it. More than 1.8 million men in the United States are survivors of prostate cancer.

There is some evidence that links exercise to better prostate health.  Exercise improves overall physical and mental health, so most medical professionals recommend at least a half an hour of exercise per week. Some studies indicate that regular exercise increases oxygen flow to the soft tissues of the body and helps to control glucose levels in the bloodstream. High levels of glucose may help fuel prostate cancer cells.

A healthy prostate diet is worth considering. High-fat and low-fiber diets and obesity seem to contribute to a higher risk of prostate cancer.  Some researchers believe that cancerous prostate cells can feed on fat, especially fats found in red meat and dairy products. Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish, soy, and flaxseed is known as the “heart-healthy” fats. Now we believe that the Omega-3 fatty acids are prostate healthy as well. Countries, like China and Japan, whose diets are based on fish proteins rather than red meat have much lower rates of prostate cancer. Soy products include tofu, soymilk, soy creamers, soy yogurts, soy ice creams, and tofu burgers.  Red grapes, grape juice, green teas, and red wine contain anti-oxidants that can neutralize cancer-causing agents within the body. Lycopene found in tomatoes, and beta-carotene may be beneficial in helping to protect the body from the risk of prostate cancer.  Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables may help boost the body’s cancer-fighting abilities.

Supplements such as vitamin E and selenium have been linked to a drastically decreased risk of prostate cancer. Studies of vitamin E and selenium seem to benefit those who were deficient in either Vitamin E or selenium, or who were ex-smokers. Studies have also noted that a daily regimen of aspirin or ibuprofen lowers risks of prostate cancer.

A few years ago a long-term study using the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, Proscar or Avodart, lowers the risk of prostate cancer.  This study as well as others has shown a 25% reduction in prostate cancer.  However, the risk of developing a high-grade cancer or a more aggressive cancer was greater in those men taking finasteride as compared to a placebo or sugar pill.

So what is a man to do?  If you are at risk for prostate cancer, i.e., you have a relative such as a father, brother, uncle with prostate cancer, are Afro-American, or are obese and consume a high fat and meat diet, then you should talk to your doctor about prostate cancer prevention using one of the agents like Proscar or Avodart.  For the rest of the men: get an annual digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test once a year after age 50 or after age 40 if you are at high risk for prostate cancer.

Bottom Line: Knowledge is your best weapon for good prostate health and avoiding prostate cancer. Some lifestyles, eating habits, and dietary supplements are thought to lead to lower levels of prostate cancer, as well as other cancers. Nobody can guarantee prostate cancer prevention through behavior, diet, treatment, or medicine, but there are things you can do to improve your odds.

 

 

 

Low T Can Lead To a High Risk of D….as in Death!

October 21, 2010

Testosterone is the male hormone produced in the testicles and is responsible for your libido or sex drive.  The blood level of testosterone can also be a marker for heart disease in men.  Low testosterone levels  predict worse outcomes  in men who already have heart disease. 

What isn’t clear is whether low testosterone causes or worsens heart disease-and whether testosterone replacement therapy would help prevent heart disease.  Testosterone replacement therapy may not reduce the risk of heart disease, however, studies demonstrate that you will feel better if your testosterone level returns to a normal level.

There are a lot of actions that you can take to lower your risk of heart disease: Lose weight, lower your blood pressure, exercise regularly, stop smoking, and lower your cholesterol level. The goal of testosterone replacement should be to approximate, not exceed, normal testosterone levels.

Bottom line: Get your testosterone level checked regularly. If it is low get a cardiac risk profile and start exercising!

Excerpt from journal Heart, October 20, 2010

The Penis Has a Mind of Its Own-What Can You Expect From Your Best Friend Who Resides Between Your Legs as You Enter Middle Age

October 9, 2010

Let’s face it guys, as we get older our sexual prowess and our ability to engage in sexual intimacy decreases.  As we age our testosterone level falls and many men enter into a male menopause, often called andropause.  As a result it takes more stimulation to create an erection and it may take more time to achieve an orgasm and the time between an ejaculation\orgasm and the next erection increases.  If this isn’t enough, there is a decrease in semen volume and the power of the ejaculation also diminishes as we enter middle age and beyond.

Coupled with a decrease in sex drive and a decrease in the rigidity of the erections with age, there is a decrease in the length of the penis.  For some men the decrease in the length is more apparent than real.  That is, with increasing age there is a concommitent accumulation of fat in the lower abdomen which makes the penis appear shorter to the man when he looks down at Willy when he and Willy are in the shower!  So if you are looking for some motivation to lose weight and, as a result, increase the size of your penis by an inch or two, this just might be the stimulus you have been waiting for!

For some men the loss of length is more than just a figment of the imagination. As men age the natural depositon of cholesterol placques inside the blood vessels will restrict the blood supply to the penis and thus impair the deliver of oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream which are so necessary for maintaining the function and the length of the penis.  By the way, this same process of cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels to the penis are also occurring in the blood vessels of the heart and can contribute to heart disease and even a heart attack.

Another natural and normal consequence of aging is that the penis becomes less sensitive.  Thus the need for more genital stimulation in order to achieve and maintain an erection.  When a man is in his sexual prime, age 20-30, the mere touch of a feather can illicit an erection.  For a man in his 50s, it may take several minutes of genital stimulation in order to achieve an erection.

But there is some good news.  Although we have fewer erections, and need to work harder to achieve an erection, the sexual gratification remains intact.  Older men enjoy sexual intimacy just as much as their younger counterparts.

Bottom Line:  Don’t say good by to sex or put Willy to sleep just because you have reached middle age.  Sex is still good whatever your age.  It just takes a little more time, a positive attitude, and, oh yes, a partner!

Chicken Soup For More Than the Soul or A Gargle A Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

October 2, 2010

Is there any validity that chicken soup, or Jewish penicillin, is good for a cold as well as for the soul?  There is some evidence that chicken soup may have a medicinal value for the common cold.  But let the truth be told, it’s probably not any better than gargling with salt water.  A sore, itchy throat and an upper respiratory tract infection seem to respond to gargling with salt water.  The salt-water solution seems to draw the excess fluid from the inflamed tissue in the back of the throat making the pain decrease, loosens thick mucus and making breathing easier.  A study reported in the Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2005 supports this theory when two groups were followed during cold and flu season.  The group that gargled with salt water three times a day had 40% decrease in respiratory tract infections compared to the control group.

Bottom Line:  If you have a mother willing to make that elixir of the soul, then go with the chicken soup, which is nothing more than flavored salt water.  If not, a half of a teaspoon of salt water in warm water and gargle for a few seconds before spitting it out will work just as well!