Archive for October, 2011


October 31, 2011

Moustache Season is finally upon us and just in time for Mo Bros everywhere to get their annual health check up. Lets face the facts, most men are known to be more indifferent towards their health, and studies suggest that 24% of men are less likely to go to the doctor compared to women. Maintaining a good diet, smart lifestyle choices, and getting regular medical check-ups and screening tests can dramatically influence your health. Regardless of age or background, stay on top of your health by following these very important steps:

Find a doctor and make a yearly appointment each Movember for a general health check. Getting annual checkups, preventative screening tests, and immunizations are among the most important things you can do to stay healthy. By regularly visiting your doctor, you can greatly minimize your risk level for a number of conditions, from high blood pressure to diabetes to cancer. What better way could there be to celebrate Movember than calling your doctor to schedule a check-up?

Start a discussion with your relatives about health issues that have affected your family. Men with a family history of prostate cancer are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, so know your family history.

If you do smoke, stop! Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer death in men.

If you are not already doing some form of exercise, start small and work up to a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. If you’re already there, set your sights on 60-minute days.

Fill up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains; include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and eat foods low in saturated fats, trans-fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories you burn off by physical activities. Over two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese! The USDA and leading cancer researchers suggest that we all fill up on vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and choose lean proteins like fish and legumes over fatty ones like red meat. Evidence suggests that about a third of the 571,950 cancer deaths expected to occur will be related to obesity, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and thus could be prevented.

Stress, particularly long-term stress, can be the factor in the onset or worsening of ill health. Managing your stress is essential to your health & well being should be practiced daily.

Alcohol can be part of a healthy balanced diet, but only if it’s in moderation, which means no more than a few, drinks a day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Alcohol consumption is ok, but should be kept to no more than two drinks per day for men, and one for women.

Ready to be proactive about your health but not sure where to start? Download Movember’s health poster for a checklist by age of what to ask your doctor about.

Do you know the facts? Check out the Movember site for more information on men’s health.

Making Movember Magical-Grow A Moustache For Movember

October 31, 2011

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

On Movember 1st, guys register at with a clean-shaven face. For the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Movember is supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas,

Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often-ignored issue of men’s health. 

At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valor by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Partés held around the world. 

The Movember Effect: Awareness & Education, Survivorship, Research

The funds raised in the US support prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. The funds raised are directed to programs run directly by Movember and our men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Together, the three channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programs in line with our strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research. 

For more information on the programs we are funding please visit the following:
Prostate Cancer Foundation
LIVESTRONG, The Lance Armstrong Foundation
Awareness & Education
Global Action Plan

Movember – a global movement
Since its humble beginnings in Melbourne Australia, Movember has grown to become a truly global movement inspiring more than 1.1 Million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate with formal campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Ireland. In addition, Movember is aware of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting the campaign and men’s health cause across the globe, from Russia to Dubai, Hong Kong to Antarctica, Rio de Janeiro to Mumbai, and everywhere in between. No matter the country or city, Movember will continue to work to change established habits and attitudes men have about their health, to educate men about the health risks they face, and to act on that knowledge, thereby increasing the chances of early detection, diagnosis and effective treatment. 

In 2010, over 64,500 US Mo Bros and Mo Sistas got on board, raising $7.5 million USD.

Bottom Line: If you are a man, consider putting a sprout on your upper lip for the month of November and celebrate men’s health. If you are a woman and care about your man, have him put a tickler under his nose to create awareness for men’s health.

Kicking The Caffeine Habit

October 31, 2011

I have to admit I have an addiction to caffeine. About twice a year I will try to come off of this not so terrible habit of consuming one of the world’s most popular drugs. I’m happy to share with you a technique that works for me.
Nearly 90 percent of American adults drink coffee on a regular basis. More than 50 percent of adults, meanwhile, consume a little more than three cups of coffee a day.
But caffeine is a tricky stimulant to shake. Although tolerance levels vary, drinking just 100 milligrams per day — the amount of a small cup of brewed coffee — and then giving it up can lead to withdrawal symptoms ranging from headaches and depression to flulike nausea and muscle pain.
Caffeine might have some health benefits, but so far research is weak. Some kinds of migraine headaches cause blood vessels to widen which causes the severe pounding head pain. Caffeine temporarily causes them to narrow thus relieving the discomfort. Coffee might also help reduce your risk of Parkinson’s disease.
But coffee — like sugary breakfast foods — can create a cycle of extreme energy swings. The National Institutes of Health reports that caffeine raises blood pressure and increases feelings of stress, anxiety and road rage. It can leave you feeling wired 12 to 16 hours after the previous cup, wreaking havoc on sleep. And it can exacerbate health conditions such as diabetes by making blood sugar rise faster than usual.
To start weaning yourself off the dark, delicious brew, figure out how much caffeine you’re ingesting during the day, including soft drinks and energy drinks.
One strategy is to drink 8 ounces of water when you wake up. This seems to slow coffee consumption and also works if you have a morning diet or regular soda habit.
Some people can go cold turkey. Others need to gradually reduce.
If you’re a heavy coffee drinker — eight cups a day — gradual withdrawal can help prevent the dreaded headaches and fogginess. If you drink two cups, you might be able to bite the bullet and wrestle through a day or two of some slight withdrawal symptoms. If you do go cold turkey, it is best to do it on a weekend or on a vacation.
My approach, because I consume so much coffee, is to gradually reduce the amount of caffeine by drinking half regular and half decaffeinated and gradually increasing the amount of decaf.
You can also try tea — black or yerba mate — which has the richness of coffee without that much caffeine. Rooibos, from South Africa, is an herbal tea that has a rich body similar to black tea, without any caffeine. Green tea and white tea are also great choices.
Fruit juices might seem like a healthy option to coffee, but it’s better to avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages, whether it’s added or high in natural sugar.
The stomach doesn’t feel full, so the brain can’t know it, and you keep eating. Because they [sugary beverages] boost glycemic load, they inflame arteries, disable insulin and clog up the beta-cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. They can also make the liver store fat. This is not a trade off you want to make.
I also find that consuming several bottles of sparkling water is also a nice substitute. The water is a nice thirst quencher and the sparkling water creates gas in your upper gastrointestinal tract giving you a feeling of satiety.

Bottom Line: It probably isn’t unhealthy to drink a few, one to two, cups of coffee or consume one or two caffeinated beverages a day. When you get to 8-10 cups or bottles a day, then there’s a good reason for finding an alternative. I hope these suggestions are helpful.

PSA Screening-Advice From A Doctor On the Front Line and In The Trenches

October 30, 2011

What are the symptoms of early prostate cancer? Answer: there are NO early symptoms of prostate cancer. At this time, the ONLY way to diagnose prostate cancer is the PSA test or prostate specific antigen blood test.
The PSA test, which measures the amount of PSA protein released into blood, is by far the best tool I have for detecting this dreaded disease. A high PSA reading is a clear red flag. Because this type of cancer is almost always asymptomatic at first, the PSA — to a much greater extent than the annual digital rectal exam — is my best way to find it.
With over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer every year in the USA, and more than 30,000 deaths (this number is decreasing because of the PSA), prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men.
Two large long-term European studies showed a 30 percent-50 percent reduction in death from prostate cancer as a result of PSA screening. Even though not all studies showed the same dramatic results, to cast aside this test — seemingly on a whim — is bad public policy that appears to treat life with little regard. And mortality rates don’t tell the whole story: without the PSA, prostate cancer would often be detected at an advanced stage, leading to more suffering for the patient.
PSA screening is the way most prostate cancers are diagnosed today. Without the test, many men will learn of their prostate cancer well after there is a chance to cure the cancer.
This month, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said there’s no evidence that routine PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing saves lives. For the vast majority of men, the panel said, it may cause more harm than good. And last Monday, a study by Dartmouth College cast fresh doubt on the value of mammograms in fighting breast cancer. I, as well as most of my colleagues, am outraged at the publicity given to a recent report that suggests that men should not be screen for prostate cancer.
Of course we will diagnose some indolent cancers and miss lethal ones, and perhaps some doctors and frightened patients will rush forward rather than proceeding with caution. But finding exactly how and when to react to a rising PSA is part of the art of medicine.
If we cast aside the PSA, fewer men will become impotent or suffer the discomfort of additional testing. But more men will die.

Bottom Line: So what is my recommendation and the bottom line? There certainly is a role for cancer screening including prostate cancer and breast cancer. This is a decision that each man needs to make with the advice of his\her doctor.

Take Two (Sugar Pills) And Call Me In The Morning

October 30, 2011

Take Your Sugar Pill

I frequently speak of the powerful way in which our beliefs and expectations influence our biochemistry and physiology.

When you have a strong belief in a medication or treatment plan, your body will help convert those beliefs and expectations into biochemical realities.

One intriguing study in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals just how much our positive expectations can influence our health and healing.

Most studies compare the results of a particular drug or treatment against those of a placebo (or inert pill, the so called “sugar pill”).

In this particular study, when the authors looked at just that subset of patients who were only taking the placebo, they came upon a fascinating finding: those patients who took their “medicine” (in this case, their placebo) regularly did better than those patients who failed to take their “medicine” (placebo).

In fact, of those patients who failed to take their medicine (placebo) regularly, 28% died. Of those patients who took their medicine (placebo) regularly (defined as at least 80% of the time), only 15% died.

This dramatically shows the power of positive adherence to the treatment regimen, even in those taking “only” a placebo.

Somehow our belief in the doctor and in the treatment plan protects us and allows our body to derive positive physiological benefits even from an inert pill.

I am not saying that we should go back to the days of giving patients sugar pills and selling snake oil off the back of a covered wagon, but we should realize the tremendous power of a vital, open and trusting relationship between the physician and the patient, where positive expectations can help augment the body’s innate healing potential.

Posted by my good friend, Dr. Neil Neimark (

Retrograde Ejaculation or Shooting Blanks

October 26, 2011

Most men experience the joy of ejaculation when the semen, sperm mixed with prostatic fluid, travels outside of the body at the time of orgasm. Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen goes into the bladder instead of leaving the penis during ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation isn’t harmful but it can impair fertility since it affects the delivery of sperm to the vagina during intercourse.
During normal ejaculation, internal muscles, called sphincters, close off the opening of the bladder to prevent semen from entering as it passes through the urethra. In retrograde ejaculation, the bladder opening doesn’t close properly and some or all of the semen is allowed to enter the bladder instead of being ejected out the tip of the penis. As a result, semen mixes with urine in the bladder and leaves the body during the next urination.
Retrograde ejaculation does not interfere with a man’s ability to have an erection or an orgasm. Men often first become aware that they have retrograde ejaculation when fertility problems arise. The condition also occurs after prostate surgery where the sphincters can be damaged or injured during the surgery. A common sign indicating retrograde ejaculation is if a man’s urine appears cloudy after sexual climax.
Retrograde ejaculation may occur either partially or completely. Men with incomplete retrograde ejaculation may notice a decrease in semen that comes out during ejaculation. Complete retrograde ejaculation can also be called dry orgasm or dry ejaculation since there is orgasm without the discharge of semen.
Since retrograde ejaculation isn’t harmful, it typically doesn’t require treatment unless it interferes with fertility. In such cases, treatment depends on the underlying cause.
If your doctor discovers that a prescribed medication, such as alpha blockers, is the cause, switching to a comparable medication or discontinuation of the drug often restores normal ejaculation.
Unfortunately, if retrograde ejaculation is caused by surgery or diabetes, it is often not correctable. However, some medications have been shown to improve muscle tone of the bladder neck and therefore reduce the loss of semen into the bladder during ejaculation. These medications include: epinephrine sulfate and epinephrine-like drugs (such as pseudoephedrine, imipramine, midodrin, desipramine and brompheniramine maleate).
Alternatively, men are sometimes encouraged to ejaculate when their bladder is full since having a full bladder can increase bladder neck closure.
If the above measures are not options or are not successful and fertility is still a concern, it is also possible for an urologist to retrieve sperm from a man’s urine following an orgasm and use it for artificial insemination.
It is also possible for men, prior to receiving treatments or surgeries that bring the risk of retrograde ejaculation, to have their semen cryopreserved (frozen) for insemination later.

Bottom Line: Retrograde ejaculation or sperm going backward into the bladder is not a very common problem but can be a problem if a man wishes to achieve a pregnancy with his partner. The condition does not need treatment unless a man wishes to achieve a pregnancy.

PSA Screening For Prostate Cancer-New Guidelines

October 26, 2011

By now, you’ve probably heard that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening is no longer recommended for healthy men under age 75. This controversial draft recommendation was issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Given previous recommendations from the medical community encouraging PSA screening, many men are confused. Following are answers to some questions you may have about this recommendation — and our advice on whether you should follow it.
Should You Have a PSA Screening Test? Here’s what Johns Hopkins recommends for patients:
By now, you’ve probably heard that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening is no longer recommended for healthy men under age 75. This controversial draft recommendation was issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Given previous recommendations from the medical community encouraging PSA screening, many men are confused. Following are answers to some questions you may have about this recommendation — and our advice on whether you should follow it.
What is the USPSTF? The USPSTF is an independent group of 16 medical experts whose recommendations serve as guidelines for doctors throughout the country. In addition, the group’s recommendations ultimately impact what tests Medicare and private insurers will pay for.
Why did they make this recommendation? According to the USPSTF, the potential harms caused by prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening of healthy men as a means of identifying prostate cancer far outweigh its potential to save lives. The group discourages the use of any screening test for which the benefits do not outweigh the harms to the target population.
What are the potential harms of PSA screening? An elevated PSA reading can lead to an unnecessary prostate biopsy. Although biopsies often reveal signs of cancer, depending on a man’s age, 30 to 50 percent will not be harmful — even if left untreated.
After a positive biopsy comes the decision about what to do. Most men choose radical prostatectomy, external-beam radiation therapy or brachytherapy. But each of these treatments has the potential to cause serious problems like erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence or bowel damage. And men who choose active surveillance must live with the uncertainty of knowing that they have an untreated cancer that could start to progress at any time.
Why does the Task Force believe PSA screening does not save lives? The USPSTF evaluated data from five large randomized clinical trials of PSA testing, including the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Trial, which reported no mortality benefit among 77,000 men who underwent PSA testing and were followed for 10 years.
Do these recommendations apply to all men? These recommendations apply to all men regardless of age, race or family history as long as they do not have symptoms of prostate cancer.
My advice. Many leading cancer and patient groups and doctors agree that there is harm with PSA screening and the treatment that follows diagnosis. But a more targeted screening approach focusing on those at greatest risk of developing prostate cancer, and active surveillance for those who don’t need immediate treatment, could shift the balance of benefit and harm toward benefit.
PSA screening is the best test available for the detection of cancer cells in the prostate. Rather than discontinuing use of the only test available to detect the disease early and treat it successfully, efforts should focus on reducing harm.
Bottom Line: Every man should discuss the benefits and risks of PSA screening with his physician. If you choose to be screened and the result is positive, you and your doctor should discuss whether any further intervention is appropriate or necessary.

Having Trouble Peeing? It Might Just Be Your Medication

October 25, 2011

Common medications may account for 10% of all lower urinary tract symptoms in men. Various classes of prescription drugs are known to contribute to urinary symptoms, but doctors may neglect to take the effects of these medications into account.
A study published recently in British Journal International found that men receiving thiazide diuretics were at higher risk for difficulty with urination especially with the symptom of having to get up at night to urinate.
Other drugs affecting urination include antihistamines, bronchodilators, sympathomimetics, anticholinergics, or other diuretics like Lasix, and antidepressants were all associated with urinary symptoms. These symptoms are made worse in men with enlarged prostate glands.
If a man, or even a woman, comes in complaining of difficulty with urination, you want to discuss your medications with your doctors. Your doctor may make an adjustment in your medication or change to another class of drugs that isn’t associated with the side effects of urinary symptoms. Alternatives that do not promote urinary symptoms are available for most of these medications that do cause urinary symptoms.
Bottom Line: Many men and women have urinary symptoms especially when they reach middle age. Some of these symptoms are caused by medications.

Excerpted from Arch Intern Med 2011.

Coke, “It’s the Real Thing” and the Real Thing to Elevate Your Blood Pressure

October 25, 2011

Patients with hypertension may have to start watching their sugar as well as their salt. Data from more than 2,600 patients found that those with the highest intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and fruit juices seemed to have higher blood pressure readings.
The analysis showed that intake of sugar-sweetened beverages was related to blood pressure. In fact, those who drank the most sugary drinks had the highest blood pressure levels.
The associations with diastolic blood pressure were also direct, the researchers added.
The relationship was stronger among those with higher urinary sodium excretion, since higher salt intake is an important cause of high blood pressure in itself.
Interestingly, intake of diet beverages was not associated with high blood pressure, the researchers said.
It appears that empty calories from these drinks displace calories from other foods that have beneficial nutrients such as minerals and vitamins.
Bottom Line: We know that blood pressure is sensitive to the salt that is consumed in the diet. Now we have to consider the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages that patients drink especially if they have a history or are prone to hypertension.

Cholesterol Causing Your Erectile Dysfunction? Try Niacin

October 25, 2011

Niacin can help men with symptoms of erectile dysfunction who have elevated cholesterol levels. Niacin which is found in chicken, fish, and grains, helps the body process fats while lowering cholesterol levels. Like the popular statin medications, which have also been shown to improve erectile dysfunction, niacin increases the blood flow throughout the body by opening arteries, potentially leading to healthier erections.
A study reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that 1500 mg dose of niacin in given to men with high cholesterol levels had a significant increase in their ability to engage in sexual intimacy with their partners. Even in men with severe erectile dysfunction saw even greater improvements in their sexual performance.
Since niacin has very few side effects and is relatively inexpensive, it may be a good alternative for men with erectile dysfunction with an elevated cholesterol levels.
Please don’t interpret this study to suggest that treating erectile dysfunction can only be accomplished with niacin. Erectile dysfunction can be a precursor of heart disease and should be treated under a doctor’s supervision.
Bottom line: Erectile dysfunction is a common condition affecting millions of American men. One cause of erectile dysfunction is high cholesterol levels which be impaired the blood supply to the penis. In some men this condition can be improved with oral niacin.