Male Health News July 2015

Black men twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men

Groundbreaking new research has found that “black men in England have twice the lifetime risk of both being diagnosed with – and dying from – prostate cancer compared to white men”, as reported by the Guardian online.

The study published in BMC Medicine was produced by Prostate Cancer UK and Public Health England. The authors estimate that the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 1 in 4 for black men (i.e. 1 in 4 newborn children today will develop prostate cancer in their lifetimes). This compares to a lifetime risk of 1 in 8 for white men and 1 in 13 for Asian men. Equally, the risk of dying from prostate cancer is also highest for black men at 1 in 12, compared with 1 in 24 for white men and 1 in 44 for Asian men. . While it is unclear what lies behind this variation, it may be related to genetic biomarkers that are more common in some ethnic groups.

Regardless of the differing figures, these risks are significant for all men.  Over 42,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK every year, and the earlier this is diagnosed, the better your chances of treating it.  If you are over 50, check in with your doctor to talk about your options for testing. More information is available on our information pages.

(31st July 2015)


‘Hidden phenomenon’ of harmful drinking among over-50s middle class

Wealthy and highly educated over-50s are more likely to be drinking too much than other groups, according to recent aging study.

The charity Age UK undertook this research, based on responses to the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. Men and women over 50 who reported overall better health and greater educational achievement were more likely to drink over the recommend number of alcohol units per week. For men, the correlation of harmful drinking peaked in men’s early 60s, and then decreased gradually. Men who lived on their own, were single, separated or divorced were more at risk of harmful drinking. Interestingly, women were more at risk of harmful drinking if they were wealthy, but the same was not true for men. The research was published in BMJ Open.

We all need to keep an eye on their drinking habits to avoid long-term alcohol related illnesses. More information on safe drinking amounts for men is available from NHS Choices and Change4Life.  Likewise, as outlined yesterday by Rosanna O’Connor, Director at Public Health England, in England people over 40 can request a free NHS Health Check, which includes an alcohol risk assessment.

(24th July 2015)


Cut sugar intake in half, say nutrition experts

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has advised the government to halve the recommend daily intake of sugar.

Previously, the SACN had advised that only 10% of an adults daily calories should come from added sugar.  However, today the Committee is recommending this be cut to 5%.  As reported by the BBC, 5% is about “seven level teaspoons” of sugar for adults.  Professor Ian Macdonald, Chair of the SACN’s working committee said: “Cut down on sugars, increase fibre and we’ll all have a better chance of living longer, healthier lives”.

This change will be a stretch for public health advocates to implement, and the government has rejected calls for a sugar tax.  However, as individuals, we can all be aware of the amount of sugar in our diet to make sure we are eating only a healthy amount.  The British Nutrition Foundation has a useful list of foods high in sugar, and NHS Choices also provides useful tips on how to cut down on sugars in your diet.

(17th July 2015)

Double threat: cardiovascular disease and diabetes can take over 10 years off your life

A major international study has found that having both heart disease and diabetes can shorten lifespan by over a decade, with men of 60 with a history of these conditions losing 12 years of life on average.

The study was undertaken by the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, and co-ordinated by the University of Cambridge.  Researchers looked at over 130,000 deaths in Europe (including the UK) and North America over a period of 50 years, and focusing on deaths where individuals had a history of heart attack, stroke or type-two diabetes.  As reported by NHS Choices, the risk of death from these conditions was exponential; risk of death “doubled with one condition, was four times as high with two conditions, and eight times higher with all three”.

While the fact that these serious health conditions reduce lifespan comes as no surprise, the extent to which the presence of two or more conditions significantly increase chances of death are unexpected.  Most importantly, the incidence of strokes, heart attacks or the development of type-two diabetes is strongly related to your lifestyle.  Making healthy eating choices, keeping fit and active are some of the strongest steps people can take to reduce their risk of developing these conditions.

If you are worried about your health and feel you may be at risk of heart attack, strokes, or developing diabetes, see your doctor immediately.  Likewise, there is information and support available on these conditions and living healthily from a range of sources, including our information pages, NHS Choices, and charities such as the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK.

(10th July 2015)


New immunotherapy approved for cancer treatment

Nivolumab has been approved for use in the UK, which has been shown to prevent progression in lung and skin cancers.

Hailed as a ‘milestone’ treatment, Nivolumab operates by enhancing the body’s immune system so that it will attack cancerous tissue.  As reported by BBC News Online, one trial of Nivolumab “stopped melanoma advancing for nearly a year in 58% of patients”.  This treatment has now been approved for lung cancer via the UK’s Early Access to Medicine scheme.  It currently has an EU license for melanoma treatment, which means that it can be used to treat melanoma in the UK, but this would not normally be funded by patients on the NHS until this is approved by funding bodies such as NICE.

There is more information about lung cancer on our information pages.  For further information on lung or skin cancers, please see NHS Choices, or charities such as Melanoma UK and the British Lung Foundation.

(3rd July 2015)