Sun and Prostate Cancer Risk

Researchers at the Northern California Cancer Center in Fremont found that men who spent a lot of time in the sun had half the risk of prostate cancer as men who spent only a little time catching rays. The risk reduction, researchers theorize, is due to the vitamin D manufactured when sun shines on exposed skin.

"Calcitriol, the most active metabolite of vitamin D, has been shown to slow the growth, inhibit the spread and even cause the death of prostate cancer cells," says Esther M. John, Ph.D., epidemiologist at the center. Depending on the time of year, exposure to the sun may not always be possible, so fortified foods and vitamin D supplements can help. The current recommended daily intake (RDI) is 600 IU (ages 19 to 70) and 800 IU (age 71 and up).

Dads Who Smoke

It might be wise for men who smoke to quit before they try to conceive a child, say Canadian researchers. In studies with mice, they found that tobacco smoke alters sperm-cell DNA.

The mice were exposed to two cigarettes a day, which raised their blood levels of tobacco by-products to the equivalent of those of the average human smoker. The longer the mice were exposed to the smoke, the more the mutations accumulated and the greater the chance of transmitting these irregularities to offspring. (Sperm mutations inherited by offspring cause permanent genetic changes that can persist in future generations.)

The researchers now plan to study how the mutations impact subsequent generations of the smoking mice and whether tobacco also affects the female eggs.

Hormone Shift?

For some men, age and weight affect testosterone levels

A study conducted by the New England Research Institutes in Massachusetts has found that overall just 5.6 percent of men in this country suffer from symptomatic androgen deficiency (SAD)—low testosterone levels accompanied by clinical symptoms. But the incidence increases with age: 18 percent of men between the ages of 70 and 79 have the condition, and by the year 2025, researchers believe, as many as 6.5 million American men may be affected.

Symptoms include osteoporosis or bone fracture, sleep disturbance, lethargy, low libido and depression. What accounts for SAD? Gaining as little as seven pounds may reduce testosterone levels by nearly 2 percent, about as much as one year of aging does. (Yet another reason to keep our weight down as we age!) If you think that you may be suffering the symptoms of low testosterone, see your doctor about treatment, which may include testosterone therapy.

ED and Heart Disease

Sexual dysfunction may be a sign of greater health problems

Erectile dysfunction (ED), which affects about one in five American men, may be a significant warning sign that a man is at high risk of heart disease. One nationwide study that followed more than 9,000 men ages 55 and older for seven years concluded that men with ED have a nearly twice the risk of heart attack, stroke or angina that men without the dysfunction have. ED appears to be as strong a risk factor as smoking or a family history of heart attack, the researchers write in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Another study, out of the University of Chicago Hospitals, found that men with ED have more severe cases of coronary heart disease and a poorer prognosis than those without ED. The researchers concluded that ED is a "stronger predictor" of cardiovascular disease than traditional risk factors. A third study, of Canadian men visiting primary care physicians, found that men with cardiovascular disease and diabetes were most likely to have ED.

The bottom line, according to researchers: Doctors should question men about sexual functioning to identify those at risk of heart disease, and men with ED should be evaluated for additional risk factors or signs of existing disease.

Anger & Injury

For men, especially, anger appears to increase the risk of injury. So concluded researchers from the University of Missouri–Columbia who asked more than 2,000 people being treated for injuries in emergency rooms to describe their emotions 24 hours prior to their mishap and just before it occurred. Men who described themselves as hostile or angry had double the risk of injury, the study showed. For women, only extreme anger and hostility raised the risk of injury—and even then, to a lesser degree than for men.

Surprisingly, anger did not appear to affect the incidence of traffic accidents or falls. It did, however, significantly boost the risk of assaults and sports-related injuries.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 19 Aug 2010

Last Modified: 17 Feb 2015