Male Health News September 2016

Mediterranean-style diet could prevent 12.5% of heart attack and stroke deaths in UK

salad-1662559_1920A major study has concluded that over 19,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke in the UK could be averted if the population ate a more healthy, mediterranean-style diet.

Reported by the Guardian, researchers from the University of Cambridge studied the eating habits of almost 24,000 people over 12 – 17 years. Their results suggest that eating a healthier diet – which includes “a lot of fruit and vegetables, olive oil, nuts, legumes, some fish and dairy and little red and processed meat” – would prevent 3.9% of all new heart disease cases, and 12.5% of deaths from heart disease or strokes. The researchers emphasised that people should aim for a balance across the range of foods, rather than focusing just on reducing fat or sugar for example.

If you’re looking to eat more healthily, why not check out NHS Choices Healthy Eating for some inspiration? If you’re interested in knowing more about how to prevent heart disease or stroke, the British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association provide a range of useful information.

(30th September 2016)

Having an ‘obesity gene’ does not prevent weight loss

horizontal-162952_1280Research finds that the FTO gene associated with fat gain does not stop people from being able to lose weight through exercise, diet and other approaches.

As reported by the Guardian, many genes are thought to have an impact on weight and individuals’ ability to gain fat, with a particular high-risk version of the ‘FTO’ gene established as having one of the strongest links. However, while your genes have a part to play in why some people are more likely to become overweight, research published in the British Medical Journal found that having this type of FTO gene made “no difference to your ability to lose weight.” The international team of researchers analysed the results from trials of over 9,500 overweight or obese adults, where participants with copies of this type of FTO gene were on average heavier. While all participants undertook a range of weight loss approaches, the researchers found that the presence of the high-risk gene had no correlation with the participant’s weight loss. Quoted in the Guardian, lead author John Mathers said that “people lost weight as just the same rate if they had the [high-risk version of the] FTO gene as if they didn’t” and all the interventions “seemed to work equally well.”

While research is ongoing to better understand the interaction between our genes and environment, we see this as heartening news; no matter if you have been dealt a poor hand when it comes to a particular gene, you can still lose weight if you need to. If you’re looking for ideas on how to start living more healthily, have a read of our blogs for inspiration!

(23rd September 2016)


Monitoring of localised prostate cancer can be as effective as treatment in some cases

blood-17305_1920The UK ‘ProtecT’ trial has shown that men’s survival rates after 10 years from prostate cancer were the same whether the prostate cancer was regularly monitored, or treated with surgery or radiotherapy.

The study focused only on cases of localised prostate cancer, which is when the cancer is confined to the man’s prostate gland and has not spread to other organs. This is a lower-risk form of the disease. As reported by the Guardian, researchers from Oxford and Bristol universities looked at 82,429 UK cases where prostate cancer had been diagnosed through the use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and where one of the three options of surgery, radiotherapy or monitoring had been taken forward. Contrary to the researchers’ expectations that survival rates would be lower with monitoring, the study found that 99% of patients survived for 10 years with all three options.

The researchers stressed they were not recommending any particular option above others, and emphasised that any decisions about treatment should be “a genuine partnership” between men and their doctors which considered the various benefits and drawbacks of each option. For example, surgery to remove the prostate gland halved the risk of cancer progression, but often caused serious side-effects on sexual function and urinary incontinence.

The study only looked at patients where localised prostate cancer had been identified; in other words, where the cancer had been caught early. Different treatment options and lower survival rates apply with more advanced forms of prostate cancer, and each patient’s experience and options will differ. It’s vital for men to know their risks of prostate cancer and speak to their doctors about having a check-up, particularly from 50 onwards. Know the facts for you – check out our information page, and Prostate Cancer UK has a wealth of useful information and support.

(16th September 2016)


Exercise can offset some of the long-term impacts of alcohol

This is not advised.

This is not advised.

Joint research from the University College London and the University of Sydney suggests that regular exercise could reduce cancer risks and other health impacts associated with drinking.

Published in the BMJ, the research provided more evidence that drinking alcohol – even within the government’s limit of 14 units per week – has long-term health impacts, including a 47% higher risk of cancer, and at least a 16% higher risk of early death, as reported by the Telegraph. However, after studying results from over 35,000 men and women aged 40 and up in the UK, researchers found that around 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week appeared to halve the early death risk, as well as significantly lower the risk of cancer. This ‘protective’ effect of exercise was especially marked when exercise was increased to 5 hours per week.

However, the researchers and commentators cautioned that these results do not show that exercise can be used to ‘offset’ unhealthy drinking. The research did not look at different types of drinking patterns (such as binge drinking) or other dietary patterns, so it is possible that the apparent impact of exercise may be working in concert with other factors.

All the same, Professor Stamatakis from the research team said that “physical activity has substantial health benefits even in the presence of potentially unhealthy behaviours such as drinking alcohol”. So, rather than an excuse to drink more, probably best us to see it as another reason to go for a jog! For inspiration on how to get started, why not check out our blog?

(9th September 2016)


New drug reduces toxic Alzheimer’s plaques, raising hope of a treatment

PET_ADA new medication has been shown to significantly reduce the presence of plaques in the brain, which are strongly associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Published in Nature, and reported by the BBC, the drug aducanumab was shown to break down amyloid plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. This was associated with a slowing of clinical decline in those patients. While these results are promising, the researchers and other commentators cautioned that further tests need to be done with a wider sample. Dr Tara Spires-Jones from the University of Edinburgh was quoted by the BBC: “I am cautiously optimistic about this treatment but trying not to get too excited because many drugs make it through this early stage of testing then go on to fail in larger trials.”

If you would like to find out more about Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, there is information available from sources such as the Alzheimer’s Society and NHS Choices.

(2nd September 2016)