Male Health News February 2016

Baldness may indicate a higher risk of prostate cancer

bald-742823_1280A specific pattern of baldness in men may indicate a greater susceptibility to aggressive forms of prostate cancer, as reported by the Telegraph.

The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, and studied 4,316 men (107 of who died from prostate cancer). Led by Dr Michael Cook, the researchers found that any degree of baldness in men is associated with a 56% higher risk of fatal prostate cancer, compared with men with no balding. Men with a specific type of moderate balding – at the front and “moderate hair-thinning on the crown of the head” – were at most risk.

The research suggests that male sex hormones (such as testosterone) have a role in the development of both male baldness and prostate cancer progression. In other words, baldness is not the cause or symptom on prostate cancer, but could be an indicator of an underlying risk.

The researchers made clear that the results need to be replicated to verify their analysis. Dr Cook was also at pains to emphasise that men with slight balding should not worry unduly. Quoted in the Telegraph, Dr Cook said “The lower-bound limits of our risk estimates indicate very small increased risks”, and “men with any degree of baldness should not be additionally concerned about their individual risk of developing, or dying from, prostate cancer”.

If you are concerned about your risk and would like some more information on prostate cancer, as well as links to further help and support, please see our information pages.

(26th February 2016)


A sugar tax “would stop 3.7 million people from becoming obese”

Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum have released a report that calculates a 20% tax on sugary soft drinks would cut the rate of obesity by 15%, leading to major health benefits nationwide.

drink-19202_1920As reported by the BBC and the Daily Mail, Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum’s report focuses on the likely effect of a tax on sugary drinks. This follows ongoing debate over the potential application of tax in England, following the actions of Mexico who implemented a tax in 2014. On top of a reduction in obesity of 15% (or around 3.7 million people) the authors estimate that this would save the Westminster government around £10million in health and welfare costs, due to illnesses relating to obesity.

The Government has previously resisted calls for a sugar tax, but Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted in January saying that “we shouldn’t be in the business of ruling things out” in relation to this tax. The Daily Mail reports today that “ministers are keen to give the food and drinks industry one final chance to make their products healthier and smaller voluntarily, before imposing a tax”.

If you’re concerned about the amount of sugar you or your family are eating, there are lots of useful tips and links on our recent blog.

(19th February 2016)


New test for prostate cancer can ‘smell’ the disease

As reported by the Daily Mail, a new urine test for prostate cancer has been developed by researchers, whereby a special tool can ‘smell’ if there is any cancer. This may lead to fewer invasive procedures used to detect prostate cancer.

laboratory-1149152_1920Published in the Journal of Breath Research, a joint team at University of the West of England, University of Liverpool, Southmead Hospital and Bristol Royal Infirmary used an ‘Odoreader’ to test for cancer in a group of 155 men. The Odoreader uses a gas chromatography sensor issues to identify components in a man’s urine that could indicate the presence of cancer.

The Daily Mail quotes Professor Norman Ratcliffe from the University of the West of England: ‘There is currently no accurate test for prostate cancer, the vagaries of the [current] PSA test …can sometimes result in unnecessary biopsies, resulting in psychological toll, risk of infection from the procedure and even sometimes missing cancer cases.

Our aim is to create a test that avoids this procedure at initial diagnosis by detecting cancer in a non-invasive way by smelling the disease in men’s urine.”

The next steps for the team are to develop the testing technology to make this suitable for wider use.

If you would like to know more about prostate cancer and what your risks might be, see our information page.

(12th February 2016)


Cancer death rates drop 10% over last decade

cancer-cells-541954_1920New analysis by Cancer Research UK shows that death rates from cancer have dropped markedly over the last 10 years, but the total number of deaths has increased due to more people being diagnosed.

As reported in the Guardian, Cancer Research UK figures show that 284 out of every 100,000 people in the UK died from cancer in 2013, down from 312 per 100,000 people in 2003. In particular, men’s death rates from cancer have fallen by 12%, compared with an 8% drop for women. Cancer Research UK identified these improvements are largely due to improvements in “detection, diagnosis and treatments”. However, due to factors such as a growing, and aging, population, the total number of cancer deaths has increased. Likewise, ongoing public health challenges such as obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and drinking contribute to cancer rates.

Don’t be a statistic! Find out how you can minimise your risk of cancer; there is useful information from Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS Choices to name just three good sources. Likewise, for more information on how health stats can work, check out our blog post ‘Risk, sausages and your health’.

(5th February 2016)