Male Health News August 2016

New MRI method could identify healthy prostate tissue as well as cancer

24290532856_004b730713_bResearchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas have developed a method that could help identify prostate cancer more effectively.

As reported by Science Daily, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used often in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. However, MRIs usually cannot be used to reliably distinguish between healthy cells, enlarged but benign cells and tumours in the prostate. Tests undertaken by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified that when glucose is introduced to specific cells in the prostate, these cells release zinc, which can be identified by an MRI scan. However, prostate cancer tissue releases far less zinc under these conditions. As such, the researchers were able to successfully detect small tumours much earlier in initial tests.

Prostate cancer can often have no symptoms in the early stages, so any progress on early diagnosis techniques could help save lives. The researchers plan to apply this method to patients to improve diagnosis and monitoring.

To find out more about prostate cancer, have a look at our information page, which also has useful links to relevant expert health sources and supportive charities.

(26th August 2016)

Being main breadwinner can be bad for men’s health, but good for women’s

office-1575874_1920A new study suggests that being the sole breadwinner can be bad for a man’s physical and mental health.

Dr Christin Munsch, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, undertook a nationally representative study of US-based heterosexual couples. Controlling for other factors which could explain the differences, Dr Munsch found that “in general, as men took on more financial responsibility in their marriages, their psychological well-being and health declined.” Conversely, women’s mental health improved when they made greater financial contributions relative to their husband, and worsened if they contributed less.

Dr Munsch explained these differences as down to opposing cultural expectations for men and women. Overall, men tended to feel a sense of obligation to be breadwinners tied to their understanding of masculinity, and felt this as a source of pressure and worry when trying to maintaining “breadwinner status”. Alternatively, “breadwinning women may feel a sense of pride, without worrying what others will say if they can’t or don’t maintain it” said Dr Munsch.

In conclusion, Dr Munsch said that the study findings were an argument for greater equality in breadwinner status: “our study finds that decoupling breadwinning from masculinity has concrete benefits for both men and women”.

(19th August 2016)


Physical inactivity ‘second only to smoking’ as an early death risk

tv-1240159_1920A new study suggests that a lack of physical exercise is just behind smoking as the leading risk factor for men’s early death from heart disease.

As reported by WebMD and Medical News Today, the study from University of Gothenburg analysed results from almost 800 men over a 45 year period. Smoking was identified as the factor most associated with early death from heart disease. However, the study author Per Ladenvall said that the researchers were “surprised that the effect of aerobic capacity [a measure of physical fitness] was even more pronounced than that of high cholesterol and high blood pressure”. In contrast, even after adjusting for other risk factors including smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, each measurable increase in physical fitness levels was linked with a 21% lower risk of early death.

While improved physical activity was not proven to cause a lower risk by the study, the results support much other research which demonstrate that physical fitness helps us live longer.

And there’s no time like the present to get exercising! If you’re looking for inspiration, why not check out our blogs on fitness and getting started?

(12th August 2016)


Being overweight ‘ages’ your brain

brain-951874_1920Researchers from Cambridge Universality have found that being overweight exacerbates the amount of white matter lost as the body ages.

As reported by BBC News, white matter is the part of the brain which transmits information, and is naturally lost over time as people age. However, research from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience found that the brains of overweight people had far less white matter than thinner people. This was so pronounced that from middle age onwards, brains “appear to be 10 years older if you are overweight or obese”, said Dr Lisa Ronan, author of the study quoted in the Guardian.

However, there appeared to be no cognitive effects, and it is unclear whether the obesity was affecting the brain or vice versa. The authors have proposed more research to better understand the causes and potential long-term effects, such as susceptibility to conditions such as dementia.

As such, there’s no need to worry yet about lack of exercise shrinking your brain! But there are plenty of other reasons why it’s great to take regular exercise for your physical health and wellbeing. If you’re having trouble getting started or keeping to a routine, have a read of our ‘Making a Start’ blog for inspiration!

(August 5th 2016)