Health Newsbytes

Menstuff® has compiled newsbytes on health. See our complete listing of Health Issues (emotional, physical, psychological, sexual and additions). Here is an easy to understand glossary of medical terms.

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'Sexist' stance hurts men

A "sexist" attitude towards health funding means men are missing out despite being more likely to suffer heart attacks and cancers than women, Canterbury health-promotion workers say.

A new report, The State of Men's Health in Canterbury 2009, paints a dismal picture of men's health, but says little is being done to improve it.

Men were more likely to have high cholesterol and heart disease and have higher rates of many common cancers than women.

"While men continue to show, on average, poorer health than that of women, there appears to be significantly more health promotion targeted at women," it said.

Young Canterbury men were more likely to be hospitalised with mental-health issues and abuse of substances such as drugs and alcohol.

They were also more likely to die or be injured in an accident.

In the past five years, 1693 Canterbury men aged 15 to 24 were involved in serious-injury crashes compared with 1221 females.

More than 70 per cent of drowning victims are male.

"It would appear that this is due to the `untouchable' or `bulletproof' attitude a lot of young men tend to possess," the report said.

Canterbury Men's Centre manager Donald Pettitt said there had been a strong focus on women's health for the past 20 years, but men had the worst health-related behaviour and worst health outcomes over that time.

"The system has been blind to the outcome for men and unresponsive to the obvious statistics and it's hard not to think of it as sexist when you look at it long enough," Pettitt said.

He put the lack of focus on men's health down to the absence of advocates within the system and because people were naturally more sympathetic to women's health.

"We have been bailing out half of the boat and the bigger holes are on the men's side," he said.

Report co-author and Sport Canterbury events and marketing manager Jonny Kirkpatrick said it was difficult to attract funding for male-focused health projects.

"Men are partly to blame themselves because of the `she'll be right attitude', but it starts at the top," he said.

"The awareness around women's health is fantastic, but men get breast cancer too and as many men die from prostate cancer as women of breast cancer."

The report's main recommendations were raising awareness around men's health and making services gender appropriate.

"The services are there for them, but the pathways for men to access them aren't quite right," Kirkpatrick said.

A Canterbury District Health Board project, Green Prescription, involved GPs referring patients to a supported physical activity programme rather than prescribing medication.

However, males made up only one quarter of participants, meaning the pathways or programme itself were not engaging enough for men, the report said.

Another health board project, Appetite for Life, was a free service offered only to women wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change.

Kirkpatrick said a steering committee was meeting this month to look at what funding could be available for supporting some of the report's recommendations.

"The reality is health was hit pretty hard with budgets this year and men's health isn't high on the radar."

Health Minister Tony Ryall said major men's health issues were covered by significant spending each year, including an estimated $430 million on heart disease; $950m on cancer; just over $1 billion on mental health; and more than $750m on primary care.

FDA Panel Votes Against Cancer Drug

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Tuesday recommended against approval of a drug intended to treat prostate cancer following a report that questioned its safety and effectiveness.
Source: AP, 9/14/05

High-Dose Radiation Cuts Risk of Prostate Cancer Recurrence

High-dose radiation can cut prostate cancer recurrence by half, but it has no impact on survival rates, a new study found.
Source: The New York Times News Service, 9/14/05

Women's Hands Cleaner Than Men, Study Says

Men are dirtier than women. So scientists confirmed by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-quarter of men left without washing their hands.
Source: The Associated Press, 9/21/05

Men, Black Men and High Blood Pressure

Being male may often mean being born with the risk of higher blood pressure, a new study suggests, and this appears to be especially true for black males.

Routine Health Maintenance for Men

You take your car in for new tires and an oil change, why not treat your body just as well? Video

More Peas, Please!

Green peas deliver a powerful dose of healthy vitamins. This springtime favorite is loaded with vitamins A, B-1, B-6, C, and a supersized serving of osteoporosis-fighting K.

Does Your Memory Measure Up?

Forgot your new neighbor's name? Lost the car keys again? Find out if your memory is normal.

Midlife Test May Predict Dementia Risk

It might be possible to predict dementiadementia risk decades before dementia starts.

Do food expiration dates really matter?

If smelling the milk doesn't make you gag, it's OK to drink, right? Actually, the approved method of checking for freshness lies in a voluntary system of labeling. Yes, voluntary!

Is Your Bathroom a Health Hazard?

Changing a few habits and doing some spring cleaning around the calendar can help keep your bathroom sterile and increase your chances of staying well. Check out these 10 tips.

Rate Your Hearing

Think you're too young to have hearing loss? Think again. More than 28 million Americans have hearing loss. Even former President Bill Clinton was fitted for a hearing aid in 1997 after he realized that the rallies, concerts, and music in his life had taken a toll on his hearing.

Can Magnetic Insoles Boot Foot Pain?

Millions of Americans suffer chronic foot pain that interferes with their ability to work and live active lives. Could magnetic insoles be the answer for some?

Fans Choose Big Games Over the ER

When the stadiums fill up, emergency rooms clear out. Read more about how the big games affect the health of big fans.

That's Gross! Body Functions: Burps, Gas, and Everything Else

It may be hard to keep a straight face when talking about body functions, but vomiting, burping and passing gas are just a few of the ways our bodies take care of important business -- all in the name of health.

Hand Sanitizers and the War on Germs

Washing your hands can keep germs at bay. Do hand sanitizers help as well? A new study shows that families who used alcohol-based gels had a 59% lower rate of gastrointestinal illnesses (GI) caused by germs spread from one family member to another. Gastrointestinal illnesses cause symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.

Is Shift Work Hazardous To Your Health?

There is ample evidence that shift work, including night work, increases the risk for developing both psychological and physiological health problems. Read the story and comments from a Harvard physician.
Source: American Physiological Society,

Cranberries May Help Reduce Stroke Damage

A Researchers have found preliminary evidence that cranberries may reduce brain-cell damage associated with stroke. In lab studies using rat brain cells exposed to simulated stroke conditions, a concentrated cranberry extract reduced the death of brain cells by half in comparison to cells that did not receive the extract, according to the scientists.
Source: American Chemical Society,

Pasta Fights Back Amid Low-Carb Trend

At a recent point in dining history, pasta perception spun around like spaghetti on a fork. Suddenly, noodles transformed from the diner's saucy delight to carb villains bound for the hips, buttocks and belly.

How-To Guide for a Healthier Body

No doubt you're aware that vitamins are essential for good health. But do you know which ones you need and how much?

Maggots and Worms: Scary Medicine Goes Mainstream

The thought of blood-sucking leeches and flesh-eating maggots may make your stomach churn, but these horror movie-type treatments have some incredible healing powers!
Source: Mor eon maggot therapy: and

Funny Business in the Brain

Did you know humor can give you a natural high similar to drug-induced euphoria? Yes, a good laugh definitely has its benefits, and now researchers are figuring out what to do to help people who have lost their sense of humor.

Antibiotics Were Overprescribed Amid Anthrax Scare

FDA says tens of thousands received unnecessary prescriptions

fFace Masks of Questionable Value Against SARS

Experts don't think respiratory illness is spread through casual contact

Studies Favor More Use Of Virtual Colonoscopy

Two studies published today show that widespread use of virtual colonoscopy will ultimately decrease demand for traditional colonoscopy and increase colorectal cancer screening rates, and "prepless" virtual colonoscopy is as effective as the traditional method of colorectal cancer screening. These studies were published in the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) journal Gastroenterology.

Schools Scrap the Junk Food

Too many kids have unhealthy diets, study says.

Your Voice Holds Clues to Your Health

How it sounds can signal everything from a cold to throat cancer.

St. John's Wort Labels Can Be Inaccurate

They exaggerate levels of ingredient in the popular supplement.

Restless Leg Syndrome Explained

Caused by confusing signals from iron-deficient brain cells, study suggests.

Just How Much Water Do We Really Need? The Answer May Depend On Our Age

Just how much water does each of us really need? Not to swim in, or diet with. Not to respond to marketing claims, or counter salty foods or to cope with dry environments.
Source: American Physiological Society,

Need H2O? Your Body Lets You Know

Feel bound by the eight-glasses-per-day rule? New research suggests you follow your thirst instead!

Drink Up! Your Coffee and Soda May Count Toward Water Intake!

The well-known recommendation about drinking eight glasses of water a day has been changed -- and so have the guidelines on salt and potassium intake. Are you getting too much? Too little? Or just enough? http://

Antibiotics Were Overprescribed Amid Anthrax Scare

FDA says tens of thousands received unnecessary prescriptions.

Trans Fatty Acids: What Are They And Why Shouldn't You Eat Them?

Just what is the skinny on those trans fatty acids that are so bad for you? Donuts, stick margarines, French fries, cookies and other tasty snacks are loaded with them. And this summer the Food and Drug Administration decreed that as of Jan. 1, 2006, manufacturers must break the trans fats category out of the total fat listing on labels.

Consumers Question What Food Safe To Eat

Mad cow disease. Fish tainted with mercury and PCBs. Contaminated green onions from Mexico. Mosquitos pasing West Niles disease. Bird flu in ducks and chickens. Is anything safe to eat these days?

Men Need More Botox Than Women to Smooth Those Wrinkles

Study finds they need a much higher dose in skin.

HHS Awards 13.7 Million Dollars To Support Community Programs To Prevent Diabetes, Asthma And Obesity

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced 12 grants totaling 13.7 million to promote community initiatives to promote better health and prevent disease. The grants are funded under HHS' new Steps to a HealthierUS program, which aims to help Americans live longer, better, and healthier lives by reducing the burden of diabetes, overweight, obesity and asthma and addressing three related risk factors -- physical inactivity, poor nutrition and tobacco use.

Some Are Missing Out on Depression Treatment

Lower rates of therapy, drugs for older men, blacks and Hispanics

Smoking Ups Stroke Risk

Men who light up increase chances of hemorrhagic stroke, study finds.

Wash Away Germs

Hand washing is the best defense against infectious disease.

High Protein Intake Harms Ailing Kidneys

But study also finds no effect on healthy kidneys.

Check Up or Check Out Website Launched has established a dedicated website to provide access to information included in the "Check Up or Check Out" campaign. Visit the site to find a personal health profile "tool kit;" doctor referral services; details regarding local community "Check Up or Check Out" events; telecast dates of related specials/programming; printable health/lifestyle tools and information and national "Check Up or Check Out" sweepstakes information.

Life Span Determination?

Have you ever wondered how old you'll live to be? And have you ever thought your life span could be inherited from your parents? Find out how much influence your mom and dad really have on your life.

Morning Munchies

Start your day with a nutritious breakfast.

When a Man Loves a Woman

Surprising things can happen.

Exercise May Prolong Men's Sex Lives

A new study offers an additional reason for men to exercise: It could add years to their sex lives.

Amazing Aspirin: The New Cancer Fighter?

We already know that aspirin protects against heart trouble and a variety of other illnesses. Now it seems the "wonder drug" can help fight off several different types of cancer! So why isn't everybody taking it?

The Return of the House Call

The practice, which had all but disappeared, is making a comeback Source:

Fast-Food Market Hustles To Get In Shape

Nutrition has emerged as the fast-food industry's hottest buzzword in decades.

The Benefits Of Chocolate

The debate over the benefits of chocolate rages on. One recent study says eating dark chocolate may have benefits while a second says new research suggests that not all kinds of chocolate are beneficial. Read a Harvard Medical School physician's opinion on two separate news stories.

New Weapon Against The Flu?

There's a new way to fend off the flu this year: The first nasal-spray flu vaccine, an alternative to annual flu shots for the needle-phobic, is being shipped to doctors' offices and pharmacies. Read the story and comments from a Harvard physician.

Super-Sized Sodas

Extra large containers include many extra calories.

New Test Warns of Heart Attack

It detects high levels of clotting protein called CD40 ligand.

Elevated Heart Rates After Exercise

Patients whose heart rates remain elevated after exercise testing are more than twice as likely to die within six years, making heart rate recovery a risk factor comparable to, and independent of, the severity of coronary artery disease as measured by angiography, according to a new study in the Sept. 3, 2003 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Read the story and comments from a Harvard physician.
Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology,

NFL, Ditka To Tackle Men's Health Issues

"Iron" Mike Ditka is back in the NFL, but you won't see him prowling the sideline or screaming at a player.
Source:  Read More

Influenza Vaccine Supply Expected To Meet Demand

Sufficient supplies of flu vaccine should be available during the coming influenza season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that everyone wanting to get a flu shot to avoid influenza, regardless of age or health status, should be able to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in October.

Scientists Developing Blueberry Burgers

Some scientists hope blueberry burgers will be coming to a restaurant, supermarket or school cafeteria near you.

Blood Transfusion: Safer Than Ever

At no time since the first successful blood transfusion was performed in 1795 in the United States has this potentially life-saving procedure been as safe as it is today.

List Of Tips To Reduce Salt Consumption

Some tips to reduce sodium consumption, from the National Institutes of Health and American Public Health Association.

What You Should Know About Trans Fatty Acids

Do you know what trans fatty acids are or why you should care? Test your IQ about the food industry's newest "bad boy."

'Y' You're Male

Scientists sequence entire male chromosome.

Male Cyclists Risk Impotence

A Belgian study says male cyclists are twice as likely to suffer from impotence as men who don't ride bikes.

Your Voice Holds Clues to Your Health

How it sounds can signal everything from a cold to throat cancer.

FDA Approves Over-the-Counter Heartburn Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Friday the sale of Prilosec OTC.

Sesame Oil Lowers Blood Pressure

A new study shows cooking with sesame oil helps reduce high blood pressure and lower the amount of medication needed to treat hypertension.

A Pain in the Glass

Lead can seep into beverages.

Personal Problems

Men are less open about them.

Love Blooms in Doubt

Ideal relationships are just that.

Compound Developed From Mussels May Lead To Safer, More Effective Medical Implants

Medical implants may soon get better at preventing life-threatening clogs and bacterial infections thanks to an unusual coating that is being developed from mussels, according to researchers at Northwestern University.
Source: American Chemical Society,,IHC|~st,333|~r,EMIHC272|~b,*|&d=dmtICNNews

Regular Fasting Seems To Improve Health

The health benefits of sharply cutting calories may occur after periodic fasting, even if the fast does not result in eating less overall, a new report indicates.

Implantable Device May Monitor Organs

Data recorders in airplanes, the so-called black boxes, describe what went wrong after a disaster. Now, medical devices are emerging to act like a black box in the human body, except they're being used to prevent disaster.

Red Cross May Have Released Unsafe Blood

The American Red Cross may have released tainted blood to hospitals, the government said Friday, reporting more than 200 violations of federal blood safety rules in its battle to get the Red Cross to improve the quality of its blood operation.

Women are the Hardier Sex...

When it comes to tolerating pain, new research says.

Soothing Nerve Pain

Roughly three million Americans suffer chronic pain from nerve damage. If you're one of them, here's something that may help.

Tired to the Max -- And Then Some

Chronic fatigue syndrome may get new name to reflect scope of illness.

5 More Countries Eyed for Deadly Respiratory Illness

World health officials investigating possible cases in England, France, Israel, Slovenia and Australia; Hong Kong toll now 111.

Cold Therapy

Tips for soothing cold and flu symptoms.

Officials Target Cause of 'Mystery' Disease (3/24/03)

Scientists isolate the organism that causes a new type of pneumonia blamed for at least 11 deaths in the last three weeks. Research from several labs indicates Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome may be caused by a cousin of measles and mumps. NPR's Richard Knox reports.

'National Crisis' Killing Patients (3/11/03)

It's a crisis as important as the Sept. 11 tragedy. It threatens the lives of millions of Americans. Yet little is being done.

The U.S. system to get medical advances out of the lab and into patients is broken. That's the diagnosis of 19 members of the Institute of Medicine's Clinical Research Roundtable (CRR). Their report -- based on three years of study by the full CRR -- appears in the March 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The panelists find that a whole generation of medical advances is stuck on the drawing board. They call for action on all fronts. But even this call is not passionate enough for Roger N. Rosenberg, MD, editor of the Archives of Neurology and professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"Lives are literally being lost daily because of inertia in the system to move promising research quickly enough to the patient in need," Rosenberg writes. "The battle for fast-tracking clinical research to the bedside is being lost."

To resolve this "national crisis of major proportions," Rosenberg calls for immediate action.

"I think there needs to be leadership," he tells WebMD. "I hope that leaders of medicine and science and government can get together to look at these issues."

The lead author of the JAMA report shares that hope. Nancy S. Sung, PhD, is program officer at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

"We applaud Dr. Rosenberg's passion and hope it can be picked up by those who make a difference," Sung tells WebMD. "The U.S. public has invested billions of dollars in basic science. That investment is supposed to produce better health. Yet we really don't see better health emerging. This really is a crisis."

Sung and colleagues point to two major bottlenecks that keep medical advances from pouring out of the laboratory into hospitals and doctors' offices.

"One bottleneck is the point at which laboratory findings -- proof of new scientific concepts -- are translated into human studies," Sung says. "Another barrier is that once something gets reported as a medical breakthrough, how do we get doctors to change what they are doing? And beyond that, how do we prove a new breakthrough is better than existing treatments? Those questions are not being answered. It is not being done with the level of commitment we see in basic science."

An example is as fresh as this week's headlines. In a mid-size study, researchers this week reported that a new kind of antibody can save the lives of people with severe peanut allergies. The studies -- paid for by drug companies -- came 10 years after mouse studies showed the drug might work. The drug, dubbed TNX-901, got fast-track approval status by the FDA. Where's the drug? Nowhere. A legal squabble among drug companies has stalled the large-scale studies needed to bring TNX-901 to market. Meanwhile, people with peanut allergies continue to die from hard-to-prevent accidental exposures to ubiquitous nut products.

Sung and colleagues call for a number of specific actions by government, industry, medical associations, insurers, healthcare organizations, and the public. They include:

"We are calling for a paradigm shift in the way we look at clinical research," Sung says. "We feel the National Institutes of Health have responded very well -- NIH Director Elias Zerhouni has made clinical research a top priority. But this extends beyond the purview of the NIH. It is really going to require a system solution."

Patients are not mere bystanders in making needed changes.

"The clinical research enterprise involves consumers as well," Sung says. "Certainly the need for more people to be involved in clinical trials is only going to increase. Every volunteer contributes to bringing medical advances to the bedside."
Source: Daniel DeNoon, The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 12, 2003. Roger N. Rosenberg, MD, editor, Archives of Neurology; professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. Nancy S. Sung, PhD, program officer, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Medical Advances Kept From Patients by Broken System

Amazing medical advances are being made all the time, but is the American public ever going to benefit? Experts are afraid not. A whole generation of medical advances is stuck on the drawing board, which may mean the loss of millions of lives.

Smoking Decreases Men's Chances Of Fatherhood By IVF And ICSI

Men who smoke reduce their chances of successfully fathering a child by either standard IVF techniques or by ICSI, according to research carried out in Germany.
Source: European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology,

HHS To Launch Medicare Demonstrations To Improve Health Care Through Capitated Disease Management Demonstrations (2/28/03)

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced that HHS is seeking proposals to improve the quality of care provided to certain Medicare beneficiaries.

CDC Gives Mixed Report On U.S. Health

Americans are buckling up but chugging down, getting cancer screening tests yet still smoking too much, according to government research showing mixed results when it comes to healthy habits nationwide.

Optimistic Outlook May Benefit The Lungs

An optimistic outlook may improve lung function, suggests a study to be presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Atlanta on May 20. The study of 670 older men found that those with a more optimistic outlook had significantly higher levels of lung function and a slower rate of decline in lung function than more pessimistic men.
Source: American Thoracic Society,

Foodborne Illnesses Deadlier Than Thought

Risk over long term higher in those afflicted.

Pedometers Help Walkers Stay On Track

How many steps do you take each day?

Excuses Pile Up As Pounds

The first step to losing weight is often eliminating the excuses to gain it, say successful dieters.

Frequency Of Alcohol Use Cuts Heart Risks

As little as half an alcoholic drink a day can reduce the risk of heart attacks, whether the beverage of choice is beer, red wine, white wine or liquor, new research shows.

How Much Time Does It Take To Stay Healthy?

Experts agree that physical activity is key to good health. But for many, the agreement ends there.

Chocolate Treats For The Heart

Who knew that chocolate -- the traditional Valentine's Day gift -- had so much more to offer the recipient than simply a token of someone's affection? Of course, like most enjoyable treats, the "food of the gods" should be embraced in moderation, but research suggests that chocolate may have some redeeming health features. The good news was presented at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Source: American Chemical Society,

Patient Simulator Will Enhance Training For Medical Emergencies In Space

A lifelike mannequin will be teaching astronauts, flight surgeons and other mission personnel how to effectively manage medical emergencies in space.
Source: National Space Biomedical Research Institute,

Symposium Aims To Boost Fruit And Vegetable Consumption

The 3rd Biennial 5 A Day International Symposium in Berlin, Germany brought health professionals and industry representatives together to widen the initiative to boost increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

FDA OKs Speedier Medication Reviews

The Food and Drug Administration has reached agreement with the drug companies it regulates on steps that might speed review of new medications, in return for tens of millions in new industry fees.

Vegetarians Have Beef With Tennessee Governor

Gov. Don Sundquist has refused to proclaim a "Vegetarian Month," leaving a vegetarian group with a bad taste.

From Designer Milk To 'Green' Cows: Predictions For Milk And Dairy Products In The Next 50 Years

Old MacDonald will be surprised when he sees what's headed for his dairy farm: specially bred cows that naturally produce low-fat milk, designer milk that boosts the immune system, and 'green' cows -- engineered to produce less methane to help stem global warming. All are among the changes predicted for the future of the milk and dairy industry over the next 50 years.
Source: American Chemical Society,

Study Records Elevated Mercury From Diets Heavy With Fish

A study of Californians who loaded their lunch and dinner menus with fish shows 89 percent wound up with elevated mercury levels in their bodies.

Pig Genes Modified For Organ Uses

In a step toward creating herds of pigs that could provide organs for transplanting into humans, Italian researchers manipulated swine sperm to make an animal strain that carries human genes in the heart, liver and kidneys.

Restraints Reduce Whiplash

New vehicle head restraints and seat back designs are reducing whiplash, the most commonly reported injury in auto accidents, according to an insurance industry study.

Patients With Chronic Illness Not Benefiting From Advances In Care

Many patients with chronic diseases are not benefiting from advances in care because of a lack of financial and staff resources, inadequate information systems, and doctors' heavy workload, argue US researchers in this week's BMJ.
Source: British Medical Journal,

Computerised Guidelines Are No "Magic Bullet"

Computerised guidelines do not improve care for patients with chronic diseases, and are unlikely ever to be the 'magic bullet' that answers all questions, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Many Don't Grasp Info on Risks of Medical Research (10/25/02)

Under generally accepted ethical guidelines, people must sign an informed consent form before participating in a medical research project, indicating that they agree to take part in the study and are aware of what will happen to them. Researchers in Western countries often follow a standard procedure when describing the nature of the study to prospective study participants. However, new study findings suggest that this technique communicates only a fraction of the necessary information to patients living in developing countries. And in fact, the researchers note, while little study has been done of informed consent procedures overall, there's evidence that people in the developed world have a difficult time understanding this type of information as well.

Grandpa's Diet Affects Grandkids' Well-Being

Did you know that what your grandpa ate as a kid could affect YOUR health? According to a new study, it really can. Whether Grandpa ate a lot as a child or if he survived a food shortage in his early years, ancestral appetites can play a particular role in how you live out your later years.

Scales Tip In Favor Of New Food Pyramid

The government is considering changes to its Food Guide Pyramid to make it more fit for the times.

Bread Crust And Stuffing Rich In Healthy Antioxidants

The best thing since sliced bread may be bread crust: Researchers in Germany have discovered that the crust is a rich source of antioxidants and may provide a much stronger health benefit than the rest of the bread.
Source: American Chemical Society,

Renewing CPR Skills Benefits Others

They're in airports, stadiums, museums and even schools. Wherever you find a lot of people these days you're likely to find a portable heart defibrillator.

Holiday Survival Guide

The holidays can play havoc with your health regimen. With all those treats and feasts, parties, traveling and late nights, healthy habits and good intentions can go right out the window. But the American Heart Association has tools and tips to help you enjoy yourself this season and still respect yourself in the morning.
Source: American Heart Association,

Iron Deficiency In The United States

Iron status of toddlers, teenage girls and women of childbearing age remains less than ideal in the United States according to a national survey conducted by CDC in 1999-2017.

2,000 Extra Steps A Day: Colorado Walking It Off

Making every step count is both the motto and the motivation for a new health and fitness initiative launched this month in Colorado.

Britons Try Subsidized Golf

Adrian Prior-Sankey is learning to play golf, partly at the British government's expense. Doctor's orders, you know.

Healthy Living: Get Moving! Add Daily Exercise To Fitness Mix, Experts Say

An estimated 25 percent of Americans don't exercise at all, and another 60 percent don't do enough to make a difference to their health, federal reports show. Getting people to move -- anyhow, anywhere -- is emphasized by health officials who've spent more than two frustrating decades sounding alarms about the country's burgeoning waistlines.

Experts: Get Flu Shot Now If You're At Risk

If getting flu would be especially risky for you, now is the time to get your annual influenza shot, U.S. government flu experts say. Flu-shot season begins Oct. 1. Influenza vaccine supplies are expected to be plentiful this year.

Patients Often Miss Out On Nutrition Counseling, At Cost To Health

Nutrition counseling can make a difference in the health of high-risk patients, yet it takes place in a minority of primary care visits, according to a study.
Source: Center for the Advancement of Health,

Blood-Test Labs Bypass Doctors, Spurring Debate
In a suburban strip mall midway between downtown Denver and health-conscious Boulder, there is a place where people can go and order blood tests to detect any number of medical problems, like high cholesterol, diabetes, HIV and prostate and ovarian cancer.

Men Die Young - Even if Old

Simply being a man is bad for your health, even after the excesses of youth. Young men are often risk takers, and their predilection for thrills and spills means that they are more likely to die than young women. But if you assume things even out in later life, think again.

A new study across 20 countries reveals for the first time just how much bigger the risk of premature death is for men than women, whatever their age.

In the US in 1998, for example, men up to the age of 50 were on average twice as likely as women to keel over, and the risk remained greater even for those men who had made it to their eighties and beyond. Less surprisingly, the discrepancy in death rates between men and women was most extreme between the ages of 20 and 24, when three times as many men die as women.

"Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death," says Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Heart disease to homicide

Nesse says that the finding has important implications for public health. "If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer," he says.

Nesse's colleague Daniel Kruger estimates that over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the US if men's risk of dying was as low as women's.

The US data is backed by death rates in countries including Ireland, Australia, Russia, Singapore and El Salvador. Nesse and Kruger found that everywhere they looked, it is more perilous to be male. In Colombia for example, men in their early twenties are five times as likely to die as women of the same age. Even more surprisingly, the pattern holds for every major cause of death, from car crashes to heart disease to homicide.

For external causes of death, such as accidents, the difference between the sexes is greatest for young adults. But the second largest disparity between men and women in the US occurs when they reach their sixties. At that point in their life, men are 1.68 times as likely to die as women, mainly due to disease.

Reproductive success

The gender gap has widened dramatically in recent years, but it has been on the rise since the 1940s, at least in the US, France, Japan and Sweden, where historical figures are available. The researchers suggest a number of factors that could be to blame for the trend.

Population growth and globetrotting have led to a rise in infectious diseases. And improvements in public health and medicine may have benefited women more than men: for instance, far fewer women now die at a relatively young age during childbirth. Technological advances may have played a part, too, by supplying men with more powerful guns and ever faster cars.

Nesse and Kruger say that sexual selection could also partly explain some of the differences. Men generally invest less in their children than women do, and as a result may compete more vigorously with each other for potential mate.

This rivalry could be what drives them to take greater risks, with the result that men have evolved greater reproductive success at the expense of longevity. The same may be true for chimpanzees and even fruit flies, says Nesse.
Source: Betsy Mason,

Study Hints Lean Means Longer Life

Science has known for 70 years that lab mice and rats live longer if they eat less food. Now, for the first time, researchers have evidence that the same may be true for people.

The Doctor's Visit

Consultations with general practitioners do not have to be longer to satisfy patients' needs, according to researchers in this week's British Medical Journal. Read the story and comments from a Harvard physician.

Flu Vaccine Good For All Adults, Not Just Elderly Or Ill

Despite the cost, even healthy adults benefit from an annual flu shot because they don't lose as much work time and they spend less on treatment, according to a study.

Study Offers New Insights Into Overcoming Disparities In Health

Socioeconomic disparities in health can be reduced and possibly even eliminated in some cases by specific interventions, such as adoption of a rigid treatment plan and intensive patient monitoring, that help patients better manage their own treatment, according to a new study by researchers at RAND.

Drug Leaflets

Think those leaflets that drugstores dispense with prescription drugs tell the patient everything necessary to take the medicine safely? Think again.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Not withou me interactive baseball meal counter. Summer is the time when Major League Baseball is in full swing. Before you head to the concession stands for snacks, check out this interactive baseball meal so you can count your calories along with balls and strikes.

Paying Cash for Medical Visits

How would you like to walk into the doctor's office, have the doctor see you right away, not have to hassle with insurance, and pay, in cash, a reasonable fee. By replacing medical insurance with cash payments, service is faster and more affordable.
Source: PBS Story:

Labels For Trans Fats

Americans trying to avoid artery-clogging trans fat could find it listed on food labels by next year. Read the story and comments from a Harvard Medical School physician.

Improved Drug Regimens Help Patients Take Their Medicine

Clinical research and incremental improvements in existing medications have led to the development of drug regimens that are more convenient and easier to continue.

New York Men Tell It Like It Is

The American Cancer Society has just released a report on how men in New York State view their health and healthcare services. "Men's Voices: New York Statewide Men's Health Focus Group Report," reveals that Latino and Asian men encountered language barriers in their healthcare encounters, and Native and African-American men were concerned about issues of social/historical disadvantage.

Compiled from focus groups held around the state, the report serves as the basis of understanding men's concerns in designing healthcare services that are more male-friendly. As one man put it, "As a man, if I'm sick, I have to be real sick…'can't get outa bed sick,' I have this thing inside me that says, `I can't go; I don't wanna go (to the doctor).' Other men mentioned insensitive attitudes among healthcare practitioners as the problem.

Source: The report was compiled by Joseph Zoske, a men's health promotion specialist in Albany, NY. A free copy of the report can be obtained by calling Ellen Mullen at 315.437.7026, Ext. 123, or at

Tetanus and be Fatal

Tetanus (also called lockjaw or trismus) is a serious, often fatal disease that affects the muscles and nerves. It occurs when a certain type of bacterial infection grows in a contaminated wound.

Men Needed To Solve Nurse Shortage

Recruiting efforts aimed at boosting the thinning ranks of registered nurses are targeting a nearly untapped labor pool: men.

Improving Communications And Support For Doctors, Patients And Partners

A new approach to developing and designing information for patients has been hailed as a 'flagship study', Dr Tony Stevens told the 3rd European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona .
Source: Federation of European Cancer Societies,

Husbands Of Fibromylagia Sufferers In Slightly Poorer Health, More Depressed Than Other Men

Men whose wives suffer from fibromyalgia, a painful rheumatic disorder, have slightly worse health, including higher rates of stress and depression, than other men. But the same new research that reveals these differences also indicates that they are not as great as predicted, possibly because the husbands have developed ways of coping.
Source: Center for the Advancement of Health,

Kellogg Foundation Releases Landmark Report on Men's Health

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has recently released a report on men's health. "A Poor Man's Plight: Uncovering the Disparity in Men's Health," highlights the extreme disparities that affect low income minority men.

The report examines health statistics, provides the social context, and includes case studies. The document concludes: "It is difficult to dispute the health crisis among men of color in the United States. Black men have a lower life expectancy at birth than White males and the lowest life expectancy of any racial group of either gender."

The Kellogg Foundation is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States. The 30-page report can be obtained free of charge by calling 800.819.9997, or by going to the website:

Climate change linked to disease epidemics (6/20/02)

A warmer world is in all likelihood going to be a sicker world for everything from trees to marine life to people, according to a new report by a panel of US scientists. But opponents remain unconvinced there is sufficient evidence to support the conclusion.

A team of researchers led by Drew Harvell at Cornell University have completed a two-year study into climate-disease links. "What is most surprising is the fact that climate sensitive outbreaks are happening with so many different types of pathogens - viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites - as well as in such a wide range of hosts including corals, oysters, terrestrial plants and birds," Harvell says.

Co-researcher Richard Ostfeld, an animal ecologist at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York adds: "This isn't just a question of coral bleaching for a few marine ecologists, nor just a question of malaria for a few health officials - the number of similar increases in disease incidence is astonishing. We don't want to be alarmist, but we are alarmed."

The US team found evidence for a variety of routes for climate warming to adversely affect disease spread. For instance, warmer winters could reduce seasonal die-off of many pathogens and their carriers, or allow them to move into areas that were previously too cold. Other possibilities include the spread of pathogens that thrive on warmer water, the joining of pathogen and potential hosts populations previously separated by climate factors.

The researchers examined a number of human diseases whose spread researchers have connected to warming, including malaria, Lyme disease, yellow fever and others. Most involved the expanded range of carriers into higher latitudes. The authors concede that such connections are controversial because countless factors besides climate, such as economics and failed prevention measures, play roles in the spread of human diseases. Men Talk.
Source: Mark Schrope, Journal reference: Science (vol 296, p 2158)

HHS Issues New Statistical Look At Women's Health

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson released Women's Health USA 2002, a new statistical report on the health status of America's women that shows the disproportionate impact that certain health conditions such as osteoporosis, asthma, diabetes and lupus have on women.

Editor's Note: Two things of interest about this story: 1. Is there going to be such a report on men? Doubtful, because that list shows men leading in all 10 top killers of people in the U.S. Things that generally don't kill like osteoporosis and asthma, seem to be more important, so they get all of the press.This is just one example of why having a Men's Health Commission is important. 2. It is from the Harvard Medical School's web site. If you want to know about why that's important, click here.

Rubeola (Measles)

Measles, also called rubeola, is best known for its typical skin rash. It is, however, a respiratory infection. The first symptoms are irritability, runny nose, hacking cough, and a high fever.

Tinea (Ringworm, Jock Itch, Athlete's Foot)

The term "tinea" is a general name referring to a group of related fungal skin infections. Tinea can affect most skin sites, depending on the specific fungal type.

Why Does Eating Ice Cream Give Me a Headache?

That vanilla ice-cream cone has quickly given you a bad headache, also known as brain freeze. If you want to know more about the pain in your brain, read our article for kids.

What's It Like to Stay in the Hospital?

Have you ever had to stay in the hospital? Knowing what to expect before you get to the hospital may make your time there a little easier.

Why You Should Smile

Did you know that there are at least 18 different kinds of smiles? Did you know that smiling might make you feel better? Read our article on why you should smile to find out even more interesting facts!

Making Medicines From Foods

Advances in genetic engineering and the success of "functional" foods, such as calcium-fortified juice, are spawning a new, exotic generation of agricultural products: bananas that produce a cholera vaccine, vegetables containing bonus vitamins, and many more.

In Folding Proteins, Clues To Many Diseases

Consider the consequences of a garbage strike. Trash accumulates, streets are clogged and daily life is disrupted. Eventually, things can come to a standstill. Scientists say that kind of disruption may lie at the heart of an array of diseases afflicting millions of Americans.

More Benefits of Folic Acid

Research in the US indicates that regular consumption of vegetables high in folic acid such as fresh green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, oranges and root vegetables can reduce stroke risk by 20 per cent. The chances of a heart attack or of developing high blood pressure are also smaller. Scientists at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans say adults should take about 400 micrograms of folate a day - twice the UK recommended level.
Source: London Daily

60% of Men Burning in UK Sun (5/3/02)

Three out of five men never use sun protection in the UK, according to research by the Cancer Research UK and supermarket chain Tesco. Experts warn sun-worshippers are creating a "skin cancer timebomb" because they use high-factor creams abroad but not at homes. It appears people believe UK sun is "safer" than the sun they soak up abroad.
Source: BBC News Online

Why do doctors and surgeons use stitches?

What are the risks? Read about how they're used, the types of sutures and what you need to look for after the procedure.

Caffeine may Damage Arteries

Small doses of caffeine can cause temporary stiffening of the blood vessel walls, according to a study at Athens Medical School in Greece. Researchers found that people with mild high blood pressure who took a pill containing 250 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to the amount contained in two to three cups of coffee, experienced a temporary increase in blood pressure and in the stiffness of the aorta.

Declining Physical Activity Levels Are Associated With Increasing Obesity

The recent worldwide increase in obesity has been attributed to environmental factors such as more sedentary lifestyles and excessive food intake.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,

Why Does Hair Turn Gray?

Have you ever watched your mom try to cover her gray with a tiny bottle of hair coloring? Getting gray, silver, or white hair is a natural part of growing older. Find out why in this article written just for you to understand.


If you've ever had a migraine, you know that these headaches can cause severe pain and other symptoms. Read this article to learn about what causes migraines, migraine treatments, and lots more.

Smart Supermarket Shopping

You don't need to be a scientist to figure out how to make safe, healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.

Men Get Road Maps To Health

Men will go to extreme lengths to avoid seeking help, particularly when it concerns their health. At the root of the problem, psychologists believe, is insecurity: feelings of being pressured not to reveal weakness and frustration at relinquishing control to doctors.

Regular Exercise And Blood Pressure

An analysis of data on 2419 adults from 54 studies of exercise found that regular exercise decreased blood pressure in all groups of people, including those who had high or normal blood press, those who were overweight or not overweight and those who were black, white or Asian. Comments from a Harvard physician at.


CardioGrip may help lower blood pressure when used three times per week for seven to 12 minutes per session. Each exercise session measures your right and left handgrip strengths, then sets appropriate target forces for each. To learn more, go to:

Hormone swings affect men too (2/27/02)

The newly recognised condition of irritable male syndrome plays havoc with male animals, temporarily turning confident, chest-beating Tarzans into withdrawn, grumpy wimps. And there's some evidence that irritable male syndrome, which is triggered by a sudden drop in testosterone, affects men as well as animals, says Gerald Lincoln of the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The symptoms may resemble those of the so-called male menopause, but Lincoln believes the condition can affect men of any age when stress causes testosterone levels to plummet. If he's right, it's not just women who have their hormonal ups and downs.

Lincoln first pinpointed the syndrome in Soay sheep. In the autumn, the rams' testosterone levels soar and they rut. In the winter, testosterone levels plummet and they lose interest in sex. High testosterone is supposed to mean more aggression. But the rams were more likely to injure themselves when testosterone was low.

So Lincoln monitored the activity of eight rams, such as how often they struck out with their horns. As testosterone levels fell, the rams changed from competent males who addressed each other in a ritualistic fashion, to nervous, withdrawn animals that struck out irrationally, he says.

Reindeer and elephants

Red deer, reindeer, mouflon and Indian elephants also show clear signs of irritable male syndrome when testosterone levels fall off at the end of their breeding seasons, says Lincoln. "The mahouts sometimes starve the elephants after the musth, or tie them up to keep them under control."

But what does this mean for people? Here the evidence is shaky, Lincoln admits. But it's clear that testosterone has a major impact on human behaviour.

The brain is loaded with receptors for testosterone and its conversion products. What's more, Richard Anderson, also at Edinburgh, has found that when men who cannot produce testosterone come off hormone replacement therapy, they become irritable and depressed. Their mood improves when they resume treatment.

Lincoln thinks that stresses such as bereavement, divorce or life-threatening illnesses could send testosterone levels plummeting. There are few human studies on stress and testosterone, he says, but numerous studies on animals, including primates, show that testosterone levels fall when stress sends corticosteroid levels skywards.

Men behaving sadly

"It's right on the money," says reproductive endocrinologist David Abbott of the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center in Madison. "Testosterone effects have been missed. When a bloke gets grumpy and irritable, [researchers] try and explain it only in terms of cortisol levels and depression. They ignore the fact that testosterone levels are probably falling too."

But David Handelsman, an expert on male hormones at the University of Sydney, is more cautious. He says the changes in testosterone levels in normal adult men are far smaller than the dramatic swings seen in Soay rams, with one notable exception: levels fall by at least 90 per cent in men who undergo castration for advanced prostate cancer.

"The wives notice it first," says Keen-Hun Tai of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne. "The men become more withdrawn, but more emotional. They laugh and cry more easily."

Clearly, the jury's still out when it comes to people. But if irritable male syndrome does affect men, diagnosing it won't be easy. It's far from clear what normal testosterone levels are, while extra doses of the hormone may increase the risk of heart disease.

But the syndrome could still be worth investigating. "Instead of putting stressed men on Prozac, a little testosterone may do the job," says Abbott.

Source: Rachel Nowak, Melbourne. Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition, Journal reference: Reproduction, Fertility and Development (vol 13, p 567)

Meatless Marvels (3/1/02)

You can buy them at Disney World, Subway, T.G.I. Friday's, Hard Rock Cafe, and countless independent restaurants. McDonald's has testmarketed them. President Clinton had the White House chefs cook them. Veggieburgers are here to stay. So are meatless meatballs, meatloaf, ground beef, sausage, bacon, and hot dogs. Meanwhile, the fauxchicken market is about to get a shot in the arm from Quorn, a new dead-ringer for poultry that's already available in Europe. Why are people willing to pay extra for meatless burgers, balls, links, and nuggets? Some are-or are trying to eat more like-vegetarians because they want to protect animals or the environment. Others want to eat more soy because they've heard it's healthy. (Soy does lower cholesterol, but whether it prevents breast and prostate cancer or curbs the symptoms of menopause is unclear.)
Source: Nutrition Action Health Letter,

Tips for Vibrant Health at Every Age (3/1/02)

Winter Workouts Looking to stay in shape during cold-weather months? These tips and strategies for a safe and healthy winter workout can help you achieve your fitness goals regardless of outdoor temperatures.

Source: The Saturday Evening Post,

Losing Weight More Than Counting Calories (3/1/02)

Americans are eating less fat, but getting fatter. We're putting on the pounds at an alarmingly rapid rate. And we're sacrificing our health for the sake of supersize portions, biggie drinks, and twofor-one value meals, obesity researchers say. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the number of overweight people has been slowly climbing since the 1980s, the number of obese people has nearly doubled since then.

Source: FDA Consumer,

Blood test labs bypass doctors (3/12/02)

A growing number of people are bypassing expensive physician office visits and going to blood test labs to detect a number of problems, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, H.I.V. and prostate and ovarian cancer.
Source: New York Times,

Health Impact of 911

Researchers are charting the health of firefighters and iron workers who toiled at the World Trade Center site. They are studying women who were pregnant at the time of the attacks, and even examining the search-and-rescue dogs that worked at ground zero. They need to study the kids, too. Source:

Not An Olympian? Get in Shape Anyway (2/24/02)

You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to get into shape. Here are some common-sense tips for weekend warriors. Source:

The Eyes Have It (2/24/02)

Learn about eye problems, contact lens care, LASIK surgery, and other related topics in our section devoted to Eye Health: Source:

UNICEF Discriminates Against Men (12/9/01)

"UNICEF has been on the ground helping children in Afghanistan since 1949....But much more assistance is needed to save the 5 million Afghan CHILDREN AND WOMEN now at risk....Make a secure online contribution to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help Afghan CHILDREN AND WOMEN caught in the humanitarian crisis in Central Asia." [emphasis added]

Source: The UNICEF website at

As a result of this mindset, international health programs often exclude men from their services. For example, Luis Benavente, MD, recently wrote this letter to the British Medical Journal:

"Although our international programs are usually focused on mothers and children, we included adult men in a survey in the Amazon Basin. Anemia prevalence rates were much higher among men than among women. But iron supplementation was available only to women. Since anemia is associated with low productivity, it could be expected that by preventing anemia among men, men could bring more food to the table.

Men's health has an impact in the health if the entire family, thus interventions based in the assumption that adult men are a low-risk group should be revised."


Call UNICEF at 800-FOR-KIDS (800-367-5437). Let them know what you think.

Women's Growing Health Insurance Gap (10/01, p. 8)

Richard Service, Editor
Business and Health
5 Paragon Drive
Montvale, NJ 07645-1742

Dear Mr. Service:

I am writing to convey my concerns about your recent blurb on "Women's Growing Health Insurance Gap."

The article correctly cites the fact that there are more uninsured men in the United States than uninsured women.

The article then goes on to quote Jane Lambrew of George Washington University, who identifies several sub-groups of women who are more likely to be uninsured, but neglects to mention any sub-groups of men who are more often uninsured.

Lambrew then goes on to make recommendations how health insurance for women can be improved, but again ignores the greater uninsurance problem among men.

This line of logic is based on the implicit assumption that the health of women is more important than the health of men, even though it's men who die 6 years sooner than women in this country. Such an assumption borders precariously on anti-male bigotry.


The Spare-Tire Syndrome

In addition to putting stress on your vanity and clothing budget, abdominal fat may screw up your ability to properly utilize blood sugar. It seems that fatty acids from the abdomen overstimulate the production of glucose in the liver and result in adnormal glucose metabolism. This would explain why people with excess abdominal fat (mostly men) have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease than those who carry surplus weight in the hips, buttocks, and thighs (mostly women).

Normally, the hormone insulin regulates glucose output and shifts blood sugar into the cells for energy. But when so much glucose is being released that insulin can't properly suppress it, that's tantamount to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a common harbinger of diabetes.

Previous studies have shown that lifestyle changes resulting in the reduction of abdominal fat can control blood sugar and insulin production. Diet and exercise have been found to lower levels of insulin, more so than diet alone.

The new report was presented at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in Philadelphia.

Source: Men's Fitness, 10/01

Principles of Moderation

This is a list of relatively mild points, though the consequences of ignoring them are as fatal as shooting yourself in the head in a curious time warp wherein the bullet takes many years to reach its inevitable target.

Source: Men's Journal, 10/01

Female Hormone Stunts Male Growth (9/11/01)

Short men racked by inadequacies over their height won't be thrilled to learn the cause. Research shows many can blame the female sex hormone estrogen.

Scientists studying the genetic cause of height in males have found two genes involved in the production of male and female sex hormones determine height in more than a third of men.

"It's likely that the estrogen, which determines when you stop growing, is the final arbiter," said Stephen Harrap, a professor in the department of physiology at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Harrap and Justine Ellis, whose research is published in the international Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found the genes could cause a height difference of up to 4.2cm.

They examined the genetic profiles of 413 men and 335 women and found a gene called CYP19 and another on the male Y chromosome affected men's height, but the link was weak in women.

CYP19 triggers production of aromatase, a protein that converts the male sex hormone testosterone into estrogen. Men and women produce testosterone and estrogen, but in different amounts. Professor Harrap said production of estrogen stopped teenagers growing and that height was set by the speed and length of growth. Previous studies have shown short men are more at risk of heart attack and cancer.

Professor Harrap hopes his research will lead to new insights into the growth process and the causes of osteoporosis in males. "Height is essentially a cosmetic issue, unless you bump into doors a lot or can't grab the tram rail," he said.

Source: Stephen Brook, The Advertiser (Australia),5942,2824677,00.html

Project Aims to Find Out about Men's Health Needs (5/31/01)

A three-year research programme to find out about men's health needs has been announced by the South Eastern Health Board.

A limited amount is known about men's health, the board says, although recent reports indicate that on average men die six years younger than women.

Men are more likely to suffer accidents, injuries on the road and incidents in the workplace. They also have a higher rate of suicide, which is the leading cause of death among young men.

Ms Biddy O'Neill, the board's health promotion manager, said that while women's health had been placed at the top of the strategic agenda for health services in Ireland, men's health had had no specific targeted strategy.

With funding of £70,000 from the Department of Health and Children, the board is to undertake a region-wide consultation programme with men about health issues. A researcher to carry out the work is to be appointed shortly.

As men are not inclined to talk about their health, a proactive approach will be taken.

"We'll be targeting workplaces, sports organisations, community groups, wherever we can access men. We have to go to them because men are not great at coming to meetings," Ms O'Neill said.

A campaign to advise building workers of the dangers of working in the sun without adequate protection was highly successful when health board personnel went on site.

"We were telling them of the need to wear T-shirts and apply protection to the skin and we got a very good response. We even had calls from other building sites asking us to visit them. Now if we'd held a meeting in some hall and asked men to come along, it would not have been as successful," she said.

The research project follows the establishment by the board of a working group in 1999 to review the area of men's health and identify opportunities for development. The findings will be sent to the Department and will help inform a strategic approach to men's health at national level.

Source: Irish Times,

Australian National Men's Health Policy

Australia needs to develop a national male health policy, according to Bernard Denner from the Centre for Advancement of Men's Health in Victoria. Bernard called for the development of a national policy and the need for a longitudinal study into men's health in a recent interview on The 7.30 Report. MHIRC also supports the development of a national policy and longitudinal study.

The program also highlighted The Western Australian Pit Stop program as an example of a health program that has decided to go to where men are in an effort to increase men's involvement with health services.

A transcript of the program is available from the 7.30 Report website at

More information about the Centre for Advancement of Men's Health can be found at their website:

The Health Department of Western Australia issued a press release about the Pit Stop program which can be downloaded from:

The Wind Chill Factor: Impressive on TV, but not in real life (2/20/01)

As they reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the wind chill doesn't make much difference to humans so long as the temperature stays above 14 degrees Farenheit. The real risk of freezing is at -13 F. By then it's so cold, you'll never notice the wind.

Beefy male centerfolds mirror muscle obsession

Barbie is not the only US cultural icon to have undergone a major body transformation over the years. The average male centerfold model in Playgirl magazine has beefed up his biceps and developed a body shield of rippling muscle, a recent study reports. (As have the male action figure toys for boys. - Ed.)

New polio symptoms can arise 30 years later

Many polio survivors have started to suffer from a second phase of the disease 30 years after they were first infected and now risk being left untreated because doctors may not recognise the new condition, a medical charity is warning.

Men's increased risk of severe asthma cited

Men with asthma may be at particular risk of severe, life-threatening asthma attacks, researchers suggest.

Waist circumference can help diagnose disease

Determining who is at risk for diseases as serious as type 2 diabetes may be as simple as measuring a patient's waist, researchers report.

Men help other men stay strong; family helps women

For college men, exercise works on the buddy system: If their friends exercise, they do, a study says.

Aerobic fitness slows down artery disease

It's no secret that exercise does a body good, but new research suggests it also slows down the progression of artery disease in middle-aged men. In a study that followed 854 middle-aged men for 4 years, Finnish researchers found that the fittest men showed the slowest progression in carotid atherosclerosis.

It's All Over After Age 45

Evidence has shown that brain function slows at age 45 and from then on further decline is inevitable with each passing year. A study found by middle-age you can be 10% to 15% slower in a number of functions than your were in your 20s.

Man remarkably fit despite his heaviness

Dave Alexander's overweight body doesn't stop him from being an ironman. The 5-foot-8, 260-pounder estimates he has finished 276 triathlons since 1983, causing his doctor to marvel at this remarkable combination of fitness and admitted obesity.

Keeping yourself safe from drug dangers

Drugs are disappearing from pharmacy shelves and the FDA Commissioner predicts that more drugs will be recalled. Why? For one thing, breakthroughs that used to be marketed in Europe first are now often introduced in the U.S., which means the American public may be the first in the world exposed to complications.

In faltering economy, older workers' health at risk

Older workers in the US face higher rates of unemployment than their younger counterparts when the economy cools, according to a recently released report.

Sick Americans seek solitude

When it comes to being sick, solitude can be infectious, survey findings suggest. According to a national survey, 73% of Americans who have had a respiratory tract infection said they prefer to be left alone while 25% said they like to be pampered. www.he!

Why can't women park a car -- is it depth perception?

Men, in general and statistically speaking, do have better spatial visualization -- which is not depth perception per se, but it is a skill needed to park a car properly. Of course, there are individual variations to this as there are to any statistical measurement.

HMOs: 'Come and see us when you get sick'

The medical profession is trying to sneak away from doing annual physicals and hoping no one will notice. The reason? The physical doesn't pay the dividends that we once thought it would. The patient wants tests that will save his life. The HMOs want tests that will save

British Men Gobble the Chips, Skip the Fish

More than one third of men in the UK subsist on beer and fast food, researchers report. These men rarely eat whole-grain cereals, fruits and nuts and never eat fish and low-fat dairy products, according to a report in the January issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

Satisfied men live longer

Keeping your chin up and rolling with the punches may sound like trite cliches, but according to a team of Finnish researchers, this advice could save your life. In a study of more than 22,000 adults in Finland, investigators found that men who r!eported high levels of satisfaction with their lives were more likely to be alive 20 years later.

Is snacking a bad habit?

Research is showing that snacking is healthy and helps to promote calorie and portion control during regular meals. In other words, if you eat a healthful snack between breakfast and lunch, you will be less likely to eat a big, high-fat lunch. You have curbed your appetite in a healthy way.

What Are The Fit Or Fat Rules For Smart Eating? (5/19/00)

Q: I've heard that you use a picture of a target to illustrate your Fit or Fat rules for smart eating. How does it work?

A: Smart eating the Fit or Fat way means eating a diet that is:

We use a circle divided into four sections to represent each of the four food groups -- the Milk Group, the Meat Group, the Bread and Cereal Group, and the Fruits and Vegetables Group. We use the Four-Food-Group system as the basis of the Fit or Fat Target Diet because it satisfies the most fundamental of our four basic rules -- eat a balanced diet.

We illustrate the other three rules -- low-fat, low-sugar, and high-fiber -- by adding inner circles to the Four-Food Group circle, making it into the Fit or Fat Target. Then, focusing on one food group at a time, foods are graded so that the best ones in each group are in the center of the Target and the worst ones are on the periphery. All the foods above the horizontal center line are graded according to their fat content. Foods below the horizontal center line are graded according to their fiber and sugar content.

For example, foods such as shredded wheat, skim milk and most vegetables are placed in the center of the Target, because they are low-fat, low-sugar, and high-fiber. But things like mayonnaise and butter are placed in the periphery of the Target. Other foods are placed somewhere inside the Target, depending on their fat, sugar and fiber content. For example, white meat is lower in fat than ground beef, so white meat is closer to the center of the Target than ground beef is.

The goal is to aim for the bull’s eye of the Target. This doesn’t mean that every single food you eat must come from the center. A healthy mix is expected. But, the fatter you are the more important it is that you stick closely to the center ring. Occasionally straying to the periphery only to quickly jump back to the center.

Examples of foods that are near the center of the Target:


Breads and Cereals:


Fruits and Vegetables:

Adapted from The Fit or Fat Target Diet by Covert Bailey.

Brain Scan Gives Baby's-Eye View of The World

When babies stare in wonder at the world, it is never certain exactly what they are seeing. But with the help of new brain imaging techniques, researchers are gaining a clearer picture of a baby's-eye view.

Children's Art Reflects Internal Emoional World

As parents place their child's latest artwork on the refrigerator, they should take note of the elements included in the drawing, according to a California researcher. Such artwork can provide a clue to what is going on in a child's

mind, said Dr. Suzanne Dixon.

Doctor Says Lasik may be Okay for Children, Too

Within the near future, laser surgery to correct vision in children and adolescents may be as commonplace as it is today in adults, according to Dr. Jonathan M. Davidorf, from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Infant Injuries Spur High Chair Recall

Over one million 'Options 5' high chairs, manufactured by Cosco Inc., of Columbus, Indiana, are being recalled after reports of injuries to infants and toddlers, according to the US Consumer Product Safet!y Commission (CPSC).

New Moms Breast-Feed with Support from Baby's Dad

More women might choose to breast-feed if they had the support of the baby's father, according to results of a survey. The most common reason women said they selected bottle-feeding over breast-feeding was the "perception of the father's attitude," the researchers report.

Nutrition Lacking in Pregnant Teens and Women

Neither pregnant teens nor their older counterparts receive adequate nu!trition during pregnancy, researchers report. Both groups of women took in fewer calories than recommended during pregnancy, according to results of a study of 59 teens and 97 women over age 19.

Scientists find Gene Possibly Linked to Autism

Researchers have uncovered a gene that may increase the risk of the life-long brain disorder autism. The gene is called HOXA1 and it plays an important role in the early development of the brainstem.

Short Babies have Higher Adult Blood Pressure

Babies who are relatively short at birth are more likely to have elevated blood pressure in young adulthood, according to results of a study conducted in Hong Kong.!text.cfm?ID=45058&src=n49

Australian Moms Calming Kids Down with Antihistamines

According to a report in an Australian publication, mothers down under are known to dose their children with antihistamines to calm them down, often while traveling. This practice is common in the U.S. as well, though it hasn't been quantified. I'm not entirely convinced it's a bad thing. It might have its uses.

How Stressing Women's Health Research Over Men's Health Research Hurts Women (11/5/00)

Ten years ago, word got out that women were being routinely excluded from medical research. Doctors reportedly had no idea whether their treatments would work on members of the fairer sex. Colorado representative Patricia Schroeder offered this mean-spirited assessment: "When you have a male-dominated group of researchers, they are more worried about prostate cancer than breast cancer." And Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland accused the National Institutes of Health of "blatant sexism."

Buckling under the weight of enormous political pressure, the National Institutes of Health established the Office of Research on Women's Health. The purpose of the ORWH was to assure the inclusion of women in medical research, and was doled out $20 million a year to fix things up. It has now become clear that the hysterical campaign to helpwomen's health research play catchup is based on a superbly-crafted myth.

• Men face a 50% greater risk of dying of cancer than women. Yet reports from the National Cancer Institute reveal that as early as 1989, males represented only 43% of all participants in cancer research, and females 57%. Hardly an example of the "routine exclusion" of women.

• Beginning in 1988, the NIH began to analyze research funding on a sex-specific basis. That year, men's health garnered 4% of the NIH research budget, compared to 10% for women's health. Since then, the margin is swung even more sharply in favor of women. Where's the beef, Senator Mikulski?

Maybe political partisanship is excusable. But distorting the facts in official NIH documents is not. Repeatedly, I have come across NIH reports that are simply false. Last year, for example, the NIH issued a fact sheet on women and mental health research that categorically claims, "Historically, research studies were conducted with only men." But according to the 1979 NIH Inventory of Clinical Trials, women participated in 96% of all clinical trials in that year.

As a result of the belief that women's health research was shortchanged, men's health research has been pushed aside. Men now represent only 37% of participants in NIH research studies, according to the recent report on Women's Health from the General Accounting Office.

So why does this end up hurting women? Because of the historic neglect of men's health, men now die 6 years sooner than women. That translates into 40,000 premature male deaths each year. Many of these men are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. They have wives and children.

Their children grow up without a daddy. And their wives lose the family breadwinner. When their widows reach their 70s and 80s, they are at four times greater risk of being placed in a nursing home, to spend their final years alone. Is this what we want for the women of this country?

Edward E. Bartlett, Senior Policy Advisor, Men's Health America, Rockville, Maryland

Women Feel Their Health Issues are Ignored.By Karen Pallarito (11/16/00)

(Note: Women use more health services, enjoy a 2:1 edge in research funding, and live 6 years longer than men. But 70% of women still believe that male elected officials do not care enough about women's health issues. Can anyone figure that one out?)

Elected officials do not care enough about women's health issues, at least in part because most of these officials are men, according to results of a new survey of women around the US.

The survey found that most women do not think media and medical researchers care enough about women's health either.

Sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Lifetime Television, the survey included a national sample of 500 adult women and is the first of 12 in a year-long effort to find out what American women think and their concerns regarding healthcare policy.

"What we've learned in this first survey is that women feel that elected officials haven't given enough attention to women's healthcare concerns. Why? Women feel it's because women's health is not valued in our society and because most of the people making these decisions are men," said Project Director Marion Sullivan.

Overall, 70% of women said that elected officials do not give enough attention to women's health issues, and 44% said the same about the media. Almost two-thirds felt that medical research overlooks health concerns that are unique to women.

The survey reports that women think the most important policy issues are expanding healthcare coverage for individuals without insurance and making Medicare financially sound for the future. Other issues ranked as ``very important'' included prescription drug coverage for the elderly, increased research spending for women's health concerns, and helping families pay for long-term care.

In addition to the monthly surveys, which will address ``a wide range of issues affecting women's health,'' Sullivan said, the joint project between Kaiser and Lifetime Television includes a daily information program on the television network and on Lifetime's Web site at The Web site also provides details about each survey and additional information about what women can do to voice their concerns and advocate for health issues.

"We're trying to empower women to become more informed participants in the healthcare debate, and to become better advocates for their own healthcare in a system that's becoming increasingly difficult to have your voice heard," Sullivan explained. "All over the country there are women who live and breathe these issues every day, but don't know how to make themselves heard," she added.

"Women want their healthcare concerns considered and given greater priority in Washington and in the state capitals," she concluded. "And women were a major force in the 2000 elections."

It's Time to End the Gender Gap in Health Care (11/15/00)

On Monday, in conjunction with the annual conference of the American Public Health Association taking place in Boston this week, a few people gathered at the Midtown Hotel for a press conference announcing a campaign that targets a rarely noticed disparity in health care: a gender gap in which men are on the losing side.

It's a well-known fact that women, on average, outlive men by six years. Between 15 and 44, men's mortality rates are more than twice as high as women's. These shortfalls are noted in ''Healthy People 2010,'' a report issued this year by the Surgeon General and the US Department of Health and Human Services outlining a health care agenda. But Edward Bartlett, senior policy advisor of a group called Men's Health America, points out that no action has been taken to address such concerns. There are no men's health committees or task forces; the HHS has an Office of Women's Health but no Office of Men's Health.

The reason for this neglect, Bartlett said at the press conference, is the belief that gender equity requires more attention to women's health concerns. A decade ago, claims that women had been shortchanged by a male-dominated medical establishment caused an outcry from activists and legislators. As it happens, these allegations were little more than a politically driven myth.

In 1990, the Congressional Women's Caucus raised a ruckus over a government report showing that less than 14 percent of the money spent by the National Institutes of Health in 1987 went to female- specific illnesses. Yet less than 7 percent of the NIH budget was allocated to male-specific problems; the rest was spent on studying diseases that afflict both sexes.

But weren't those diseases studied almost exclusively in men? No. In 1979, the earliest year for which such data are available, 268 of the 293 NIH-funded clinical trials included both male and female subjects - and of the remaining 25 studies, 13 were all-female.

An analysis of medical literature in the Medline database shows a similar picture. Over two-thirds of clinical trials in the 1970s and 80s included both sexes, while single-sex trials were almost evenly divided between all-male and all-female ones.

Women's ''exclusion'' from heart disease research has drawn especially harsh criticism. In fact, nearly a third of clinical trials of heart disease treatment and prevention in 1996-1991 were all-male. This was primarily because it often makes scientific sense to study a disease first in the population in which it occurs most often - and men under 65 are three times more likely to have heart attacks than women.

Remarkably, however, during the same period men were underrepresented as subjects in cancer-related trials (even though they suffer from cancer at higher rates than women).

Perhaps the biggest myth is that breast cancer research was put on the back burner due to sexism. Former congresswoman Patricia Schroeder of Colorado once commented that male researchers are ''more worried about prostate cancer than breast cancer.''

Yet from 1981 to 1991, the National Cancer Institute spent $658 million on breast cancer research and $113 million on prostate cancer. Long before the rise of breast cancer activism, medical journals published more reports on breast cancer than on any other type of cancer.

Thanks to the crusade to remedy perceived inequities, it seems that men's health is being short-shrifted. A May 2000 report by the US General Accounting Office shows that men now account for 37 percent of subjects enrolled in NIH research (down from 45 percent in 1994) and just 29 percent in cancer research. In recent years, both Republicans and Democrats have been sponsoring women s health measures such as minimum hospital stays for breast cancer surgery, while men are roundly ignored.

The myth of women's medical neglect has bred needless resentment in many women. It has also hampered efforts to improve health care for men, who are much less likely to get regular medical check-ups or to seek care promptly when they have symptoms of illness, and more likely to be uninsured. At Monday's press conference, Irvienne Goldson, a manager with the Men's Preventive Health Program in Boston, noted that fears of shortchanging women make it difficult for men's health programs to get funding.

But women and men are not isolated from each other. When men die prematurely, the women who love them are affected as well. Isn't it time to stop playing gender politics with medicine and redirect our energy toward providing better care for everyone?

Cathy Young, contributing editor at Reason magazine. Her column appears regularly in the Globe.

Theme Issue on Men's Health

Business and Health magazine has just published a Special Report on Men's Health. The landmark report highlights the importance of men's health for workforce productivity. The 15-page report includes the following articles:

1. Real men don't eat quiche (or go to doctors)
2. The little gland that can
3. Erectile dysfunction
4. Preventive health screenings

Each of these articles is followed by comments of members of a men's health panel that convened June 7 in Chicago. Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting: Ann Peterson, Business and Health Special Reports, Medical Economics, 5 Paragon Dr., Montvale, NJ 07645-1742. Put the request on your business letterhead and include the number of copies you would like.

Thousands of Women Walked a Marathon in Their Bras (5/14/00)

Wonderbra model Adriana Sklenarikova (right) and the new face of Wonderbra Bliss, Michell Ray, lend their, et, support to the Playtex Moonwalk in central London, sponsored by the firm to increase awareness of breast cancer and raise money for research. They still can't beat the bicycle parade at Burning Man.


A&U magazine reports that researchers are reexamining the risks associated with oral sex. The transmissibility of HIV through cunnilingus or fellatio has been a focus of concern since the early days. In an era when sexual activity can be a life-threatening activity, it is important that individuals take the time to understand what is known about the risk factors associated with oral sex.

Discordant couples (couples in which one partner is HIV-positive and one is HIV-negative), singles dating, young people experimenting with early sexual encounters, and those involved in casual sex all need to understand some of the issues that may make oral sex more or less risky,. Some basic tenets: risk of HIV transmission is far less with unprotected oral sex than with unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse. Risk performing fellatio on an HIV-positive man may be small but distinctly present. Risk from fellatio is markedly increased if either semen or pre ejaculate is present in the mouth. The risk from receiving either cunnilingus or fellatio from an HIV-positive person is theoretical only. While there are very few cells in the mucous membrane of the mouth and throat that are vulnerable to HIV transmission, it does represent an important mode of transmission regardless of the lower risk factor, due to the frequency of occurrence. This is in contrast to the membranes of the rectum and vagina, which have a proliferation of cells, which are capable of acting as receptors for viral transmission.

There are four major factors contributing to the risk of transmission by having oral sex with an HIV-positive person:

The presence of active, untreated infections such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia, ulcerated herpes or syphilis, and even vaginal candidacies (thrush), will increase the level of white blood cells in the semen or cervio-vaginal fluids. This increase in blood cells is likely to increase the levels of HIV in these sexual fluids. Also, cuts and sores in the mouth, damaged gums and lips, can be sites for oral transmission of HIV. There are reports of individuals with gingivitis (a common gum disease in adults over the age of thirty, that can lead to bleeding, inflammation and abrasion) becoming infected after performing fellatio.

Despite guidelines recommending condom use during oral sex, the practice has been accepted by very few gay men and only a portion of females, though a greater number of sex workers are using it with their customers.

Michael's Fight: New hope in the war against Parkinson's Disease (5/22/00)

A Newsweek cover story of Michael's Battle - waging a war with candor and energy, Michael J. Fox is shining a fresh light on Parkinson's disease. His battle, and the explosion of new medical research that's giving new hope to the million Americans who suffer from the deadly brain affliction. And, while the majority of the story is around affairs, the magazine reports on New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's fight with the same prostate cancer that killed his father.

Men's Fear of Physicians, Washington Times, 3/5/00 - By: Karen Goldberg Goff

Men generally avoid going to doctors - for checkups and even for care when they have a problem. The reason seems to be a mixture of fear, embarrassment and machismo; it's not healthy. A little more than a year ago, a medical facility called the Garage opened in the Seattle suburbs. Trying to appeal to men and their long-standing infatuation with the automobile, the clinic marketed men's health as akin to car maintenance. It offered reasonably priced "tune-ups" (checkups and preventive care), "spark-plug service" (Viagra prescriptions), "body work," (massage therapy, fitness evaluation), "emission control" (smoking cessation programs) and "fuel-injector" (prostate) care. The Garage received lots of media attention for its clever marketing, but men still stayed away. In six months of operation, the Garage treated only seven patients. It closed last summer. (Editor - More men than that died in Seattle from prostate cancer last year.)

"I think the primary problem was that this is a tough group to reach," says Dr. Sam Harrell, a family physician and one of the clinic's founders. "The great majority of the time a man comes into the office, it is because the woman in his life has kicked him in the tail to get him there." Indeed, women visit family physicians about 2 1/2 times as often as men, according to data from the American Academy of Family Physicians. A nationwide survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Men's Health magazine and CNN found that one-third of men would not go to the doctor even if they were experiencing chest pains or shortness of breath, two top indicators of a heart attack.

The National Men's Health Foundation estimates that nearly 7 million of the 87 million American men have not seen a doctor for a checkup in more than 10 years. "I hate going to the doctor," says Bob Eller, a 42-year-old Silver Spring businessman. "I had some mild chest pains, and my wife practically twisted my arm to get me to the doctor's office. I now go every couple of years for a physical, but I hate going. If you don't go, then you won't have to hear the bad news."

Avoiding the doctor can lead to worse news, however. It is important to have a relationship with a primary care doctor even if you are not sick, says Patrick Taylor, spokesman for the National Men's Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization that tries to educate and motivate men to take better care of themselves. "Men tend to only go to the doctor when there is something seriously wrong," Mr. Taylor says. "By then, they might have to rely on emergency care. When you are being wheeled into the ER, it is not exactly a place for an open dialogue." Men's perceptions of health care seem to be a mixture of fear, embarrassment and machismo, Mr. Taylor says.

The problem begins in the late teens and early 20s. Though women are taught the importance of seeing a doctor for an annual pap smear to detect cervical cancer, men have no such scheduled tests and, once they are on their own, no mother to press them into going. By contrast, reproductive issues such as birth control, childbirth and breast health generally ensure that women see a doctor at least once or twice a year. The fallout from that is that women usually are more amenable to seeing other specialists for various health problems, says Dr. Lanny Copeland, a family physician in Albany, Ga., and a board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"We have done a good job of educating women about the importance of the pap smear and of family planning," he says. "And that has brought them into the office a great deal more than men. Men, particularly young men, just don't think anything is going to happen to them." (Editor - And the Health Services and educational system have done a lousy job educating boys about testicular checks, while spending a great deal of time and money educating the girls. Boys and men are left on their own by the same governmental and educational bodies that have spent millions making women aware of health hazards.)

"From 20 to 30, most men don't feel they need a doctor," says Dr. Matthew Mintz, an internal medicine specialist and professor of medicine at George Washington University. "You see a pediatrician every year until you go away to college. Then you go to the school clinic if you need something. After that, you are thrown out there on your own." The 20s should be a decade to educate oneself, Mr. Taylor says. It should be a time to establish a relationship with a doctor so when a man does need something simple, such as an antibiotic to treat a sinus infection, he will be able to get in to see a doctor as an established patient. While he is there, he can discuss other matters. "The 20s may be the Teflon years, but young men should get checked for testicular cancer and learn how to examine themselves," Mr. Taylor says. "They should start understanding the value of nutrition, about what bad eating and drinking habits can affect later. The 20s are more about information, not procedures." Dr. Mintz says two checkups should be enough to get a man through his 20s. However, by age 30, a man should see a doctor at least every three years or so, especially if he has a family history of such things as heart disease or colon cancer, which have a strong hereditary link, he says. "The risk of those types of disorders is stratified by decade," Dr. Mintz says. "High blood pressure can start then if we don't check it, as can diabetes and high cholesterol. Even if a man is a healthy, jock-type guy, he can have high cholesterol, which has a high genetic component."

Doctors recommend screening for those disorders by the late 30s or early 40s, particularly if there is a family history. Those without a strong family history can wait until age 50 to do annual tests for prostate and colon cancer, Dr. Copeland says. Mr. Taylor says black men need to be aware that they have a 66 percent higher incidence of prostate cancer and also have higher rates of high blood pressure and stomach, prostate and liver cancer than white men. "African-Americans, or anyone who is at high risk, should get screened for these things in their 40s," he says. The 40s also are the time to seriously think about heart health. Baseline tests such a stress test, a cholesterol test and an electrocardiogram (EKG) can help assess one's risk of a heart attack.

Through all the decades, it is important for men to recognize the signs of stress and depression, such as a racing heartbeat, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping or sadness that won't go away. "Mental health is one of the great, dark secrets that most men like to avoid," Mr. Taylor says. Even if men are reluctant to see a doctor, there are other tools they can use to at least get them thinking about their health. The wealth of information on the Internet can be a valuable tool, Dr. Copeland says. "I think the Internet is a good thing," he says. "The better educated the patient is, the easier my job is. Some doctors are offended when a patient comes into their office with something he has downloaded, but that is the way it is today." Dr. Copeland advises getting medical information from reputable sources such as hospitals, universities or medical association sites. "You had better be careful," he says. "There is some real garbage out there. But at least men are reading it, and it gets them in to see their doctor."

Another quick health-check tool is to take advantage of health services that large companies sometimes offer. When the bloodmobile or a free cholesterol screening is being offered in the cafeteria, use it, Dr. Mintz says. "I definitely recommend office health," he says. "Sometimes those tests are not totally accurate, but at least it promotes conversation. Received from

DHMO Legislation Excludes Men

Unconfirmed reports say the effective January 1, 2000, the nation’s HMOs and MCOs are expected to comply with new standards for sex-specific services. These are the standards for women’s health:

1. Breast cancer screening
2. Cervical cancer screening
3. Chlamydia screening in women
4. Prenatal care in the first trimester
5. Checkups after delivery
6. Initiation of prenatal care
7. Frequency of ongoing prenatal care
8. Discharge and average length of stay - maternity care
9. Cesarean section
10. Vaginal birth after delivery
11. Management of menopause
12. Weeks of pregnancy at time of enrollment

These are the standards for men’s health:

0. No, that’s not a typographic error, as we understand it. There are 12 standards for women’s health, and none for men’s health.

Act now. Complain to your local HMO, elected representative, whomever. Because people care about your life.

Top Ten Immune Busters

These 10 habits can make your immune system shut down, so follow this advice and your body will thank you.

1. Junk the Junk Food. Combined with sedentary lives, a poor diet is estimated to kill between 310,000 and 580,000 Americans each year.

So, how bad is junk food for your immune system?

Experts have known for some time that when a person is malnourished, her immune system is weakened. When you restore the person to normal nutrition, her immune system improves, which is no surprise. But what they're just learning is that when you continue to improve nutrition beyond mere adequacy, the immune system continues to improve, even in healthy people.

One thing that a lot of junk food has in common is excess fat. Fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, tend to suppress the immune system. Cut your total fat intake to no more than 25% of daily calories.

Another bad component of junk food is excess sugar. Sugar inhibits phagocytosis, the process by which viruses and bacteria are engulfed and then literally chewed up by white blood cells.

2. Dodge Those PCBs. It takes just one exposure of less than one-millionth of a gram for immunotoxic contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, certain pesticides, and dioxin-like substances to disrupt the immune function of innocent wildlife. Since these chemicals can stay in the environment for decades, vulnerable wildlife species have no escape from their devastation. Moreover, not only do these toxins become more concentrated as they move their way up the food chain, they can also cause life-threatening autoimmune reactions--the immune system's inability to tell the difference between the body's own tissues and foreign invaders.

So, what does this have to do with your immune system? A lot. Evidence suggests that some of these same chemicals may be putting us at risk. A few examples: In Aberdeen, N.C.--home of the Aberdeen pesticides dump--scientists found that young adults were two times more likely than nonresidents to have shingles, a painful condition caused by a herpes virus. In another study, researchers found that chlordane, a termite-killing substance, caused weaker immune responses in people who had been exposed.

So what can you do? Reduce your exposure as much as possible to unnecessary toxins. Stay away from cigarette smoke, excess alcohol, and illicit drugs. Buy organic produce when possible. Rinse your fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove pesticides. Switch to natural gardening methods and stay indoors or go away when your neighbors are using pesticides. Choose cleansers, paper goods, and other products that are made with less toxic materials. Read food labels vigilantly and avoid products that contain unnecessary chemicals.

3. Avoid Sleep Deprivation. Sleep deprivation has a powerfully detrimental effect on your immune system. The perfect example is college students who get sick after pulling all-nighters cramming for exams.

If you're tired when you wake up in the morning, you're not getting enough sleep, or maybe not enough quality sleep. Either way, your immunity is probably compromised. Poor sleep is associated with lower immune system function and reduced numbers of killer cells that fight germs. Killer cells are also the part of the immune system that combats cells that divide too rapidly, as they do in cancer. Lower their numbers and you may be at greater risk for illness.

Studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation also contributes to heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and other medical illnesses. One study on the effects of sleep deprivation showed that a group of men restricted to 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night experienced changes in hormone function and carbohydrate metabolism that mimic aging changes; the lack of sleep was making them older faster.

4. Release Yourself from the Stress Trap. No doubt about it, stress is an Immune Buster.

The loss of a job, the death of a spouse, the breakup of a marriage--these are all examples of situations that can trigger a vigorous stress response in the body. There is compelling scientific evidence that chronic stress causes a measurable decline in the immune system's ability to fight disease. Severe and chronic stress have a direct impact on the immune system that can cause disease or change the course of a preexisting disease. For example, studies have indicated that higher levels of stress hormones lead to more rapid cancer progression.

Other research has shown that people who are stressed are more prone to developing cardiovascular disease. Studies show that women with cardiovascular disease who are better able to manage their stress live longer and remain healthier than women with cardiovascular disease who undergo a lot of stress and don't know how to manage it.

Periods of extreme stress can result in lower natural killer cell count, sluggish "killer T" cells, and diminished macrophage activity that can amplify the immune response. In fact, widows and widowers are much more likely to get sick during the first year following the death of their spouse than their peers who have not experienced a major loss.

5. Adopt an Optimistic Outlook. Even subtle shades of sadness can weaken your immune system. Here's why:

Studies show that pessimists who look at a half-glass of water and think that it's half-empty don't live as long as optimists, who see the same glass as half-full. When pessimists put a more positive spin on the calamities in their lives, they have less stress and better health. One reason for this could be that optimists take better care of themselves. It could also be due to less stress-related damage to your immune system, such as killer cells that suddenly become pacifists. In one study, cancer patients who completed a special course designed to make them more optimistic had stronger immune systems than those who maintained their woesome ways.

Other research supports the idea that having a negative outlook when under stress can make you and your immune system miss out. A 1998 study at UCLA found that law students who began their first semester optimistic about the experience had more helper T cells midsemester, which can amplify the immune response, and more powerful natural killer cells. The reason? They experienced events such as their grueling first year as less stressful than did their more pessimistic classmates. Researchers say that this establishes the possibility that a person's outlook and mood when stressed might affect responses to common immune challenges such as exposure to cold viruses.

6. Avoid Sedentary Lifestyles. One in four American women doesn't exercise at all, making sedentary lifestyles even more common in women than in men. Sedentary ways have a tremendous impact on health. The benefits of exercise are so great that choosing not to exercise is like throwing away a winning lottery ticket. Millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or treated through exercise, including 50 million people with high blood pressure, 13.5 million with coronary heart disease, and 8 million with type 2 diabetes.

Studies show the dangers of a sedentary life. One study compared inactive people with those who walked briskly almost every day. Researchers found that those who didn't walk took twice as many sick days in 4 months as those who walked.

Over time, you should work up to the standard recommendation of five times a week for at least 30 minutes. Experts say that it takes a half-hour of aerobic exercise to sweep white blood cells, key immune system components that are stuck on the blood vessel walls, back into circulation.

Moderate exercise is the key. If your exercise is too intense, it can actually suppress your immune system, which is why marathon runners often get colds after a race. What defines overexertion depends on your fitness level. Consult with your doctor to determine yours before starting an exercise program.

7. Avoid Social Isolation. The cost of social isolation may be higher than we think. Studies show that the fewer human connections we have at home, at work, and in the community, the more likely we are to get sick, flood our brains with anxiety-causing chemicals, and die prematurely.

One study in Sweden showed that those who frequented cultural events such as concerts, museum exhibits, and even ball games tended to live longer than their stay-at-home peers. The key factors could be increased social contact and reduced stress. Other studies have found that people who are isolated may live only half as long as those who have a lot of human contact. Love seems to be an immune system nutrient.

The good news is that these same studies also show that the more human connections we have, the more likely we are to live longer and healthier. Connectedness is the unacknowledged key to emotional and physical health. The more ties you have, the more likely you are to stay well in the first place. Researchers who monitored 276 people between the ages of 18 and 55 found that those who had six or more connections were four times better at fighting off the viruses that cause colds.

8. Stop Smoking. Smoking, and breathing in secondhand smoke, are terrible for your entire body. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds. Of these, at least 43 are known carcinogens.

Here are just some of the ways it wreaks havoc: Smoking causes heart disease, lung and esophageal cancer, and chronic lung disease. It contributes to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, and kidneys. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have problems, including babies with low birth weights, which is a leading cause of infant death.

In fact, smoking kills more than two times as many people as AIDS, alcohol abuse, motor vehicle accidents, homicides, drugs, and suicide combined. One out of every five deaths in America is smoking-related. On average, smokers die nearly 7 years earlier than nonsmokers!

Secondhand smoke is almost as deadly. Each year, because of exposure to tobacco smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer and 300,000 children suffer from lower respiratory tract infections. Secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack and aggravate symptoms in people with allergies. In addition, tobacco smoke has been shown to make asthma worse in preschool children and may even cause it.

9. Arm Yourself Against Too Many Antibiotics. The cost of antibiotic resistance is high, both literally and from a health perspective. Literally, while it costs only $12,000 to treat a patient who has tuberculosis that responds to antibiotics, the cost soars to $180,000 for a patient with a multidrug-resistant strain.

From a health perspective, the cost of antibiotic resistance is an increase in the seriousness of disease. For example, treating a person with tuberculosis caused by a strain that is killed by antibiotics is highly effective. In contrast, between 40 and 60% of people who get antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis die.

The cost of misuse of antibiotics can be a weakened immune system. Researchers found that certain patients taking antibiotics had reduced levels of cytokines, the hormone messengers of the immune system. When your immune system is suppressed, you're more likely to develop resistant bacteria or to become sick in the future.

Here are steps to take to use antibiotics properly:

10. Use Laughter to Beat Stress. Researchers have found that the positive emotions associated with laughter decrease stress hormones and increase certain immune cells while activating others. In one study conducted at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California, 10 healthy men who watched a funny video for an hour had significant increases in one particular hormone of the immune system that activates other components of the immune system.

So how can you add a little humor to your life? Simply find reasons to laugh. Rent a funny video; read a book of jokes. Have lunch with a friend known for her sense of humor. Lightening up can really light up your immune system.

*    *    *
Disease has social as well as physical, chemical and biological causes. - Henry E. Siegrist

Jim Fixx, author of The Comlete Book on Running, died while running.

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