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The Direct Effects of the HPV Vaccine In Men

The HPV vaccine for men is largely seen as only having indirect benefits, such as protecting their partners. But a new study shows that Gardasil may have a more direct effect than previously believed.

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Men's Health Spotlight10

Prostate Cancer Patients, Keep Taking Your Anticoagulants

Wednesday October 27, 2010

Here's some exciting (if preliminary) news from a big study conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, reported by Reuters:

Prostate cancer patients who had been treated with either surgery or radiation, and who took aspirin or other anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin, were far less likely to die of cancer, the researchers said.

Those who took the drugs had a 4 percent risk of dying from prostate cancer after 10 years, compared to 10 percent for men who did not take anticoagulants.

Men with high-risk prostate cancer benefited the most, the researchers said ahead of an American Society for Radiation Oncology meeting, which starts next week in San Diego.

...

Choe's team looked at a study of 5,275 men whose cancer had not spread beyond the prostate gland. Of the men, 1,982 were taking anticoagulants.

Those taking aspirin or other drugs to reduce clotting were far less likely to have the prostate tumors pop up elsewhere in their bodies and were less likely to die, Choe's team said in materials published ahead of the meeting.

It's important to note that these patients were already taking anticoagulants on a regular basis. So it could just be the case that men who are prone to deep vein thrombosis, heart attacks, and other problems commonly treated or prevented with anticoagulants are also prone to living longer after having prostate cancer. Other studies will be needed to determine whether aspirin really makes a difference in cancer prognosis when men take it who have no other reason to take an anticoagulant.

On the other hand, look at those numbers: Nearly 38% of the patients were taking anticoagulants. Prostate cancer affects billions of men worldwide, and 38% of billions is a lot of people. So at the very least, anyone who gets prostate cancer can be relatively assured that their anticoagulants are not going to make the cancer worse, and that will be a big relief. It's certainly a much better outcome than having to choose between treating cancer and preventing heart attacks.

Does Cancer Affect Testosterone Levels in Men?

Tuesday October 26, 2010

It's been known for a while that hormone levels drop in women treated for cancer. Now a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology is showing similar effects in older men. MSNBC Health reports:

For the new study, researchers tested more than 400 men with cancers that were unrelated to testosterone.

Nearly half the men had total testosterone levels below 300 nanograms per deciliter. The researchers didn't compare the men to a control group, but note that all other studies of men without cancer have found some percentage with lowered testosterone levels, but far less than half.

The men in the current study with low testosterone also tended to be overweight or obese, and scored slightly lower on a scale designed to measure quality of life than men with "normal" testosterone levels.

However, there are some important caveats:

  • The study was sponsored by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures a testosterone cream. Since the study was essentially designed to identify a target market for their product, that makes the results somewhat suspect. I would like to see the results replicated by another study that's independently funded--and that includes a control group, which this study didn't have.
  • Any study examining testosterone levels will be hampered by "a lack of consensus on what constitute a normal range of testosterone levels, the well-known inaccuracy of measuring serum bioavailable testosterone levels, and the considerable interindividual variation in the degree of testosterone decline associated with age," according to this 2006 article in the International Journal of Impotence Research.
  • According to that same article, it isn't even clear whether testosterone affects prostate cancer, and if there is a connection, it's that too much testosterone increases the risk of cancer. So when the researchers say that next they're going to see whether testosterone supplementation increases the prognosis for these cancer patients, they're pretty much talking nonsense.

If you're a man who's had cancer, and you're having problems such as impotence that could be related to low testosterone levels, do consult your oncologist and maybe an endocrinologist or urologist--but don't panic.

Lots of Useful Info on Prostate Surgery

Tuesday August 10, 2010

Jennifer Heisler, the About.com Guide to Surgery, just put up some terrific articles about prostate surgery. Take a look for detailed information on the types, risks, results, and side effects of prostate surgery, as well as answers to frequently asked questions. Tell us what you think.

Female to Male HIV Transmission Higher During Pregnancy

Thursday June 10, 2010

Studies have clearly shown that pregnant women are at an increased risk for HIV infection. Now, a new study shows that men are at a higher risk of HIV infection from a woman if she is pregnant. A study out of the University of Washighton in Seattle and presented at the International Microbicides Conference reveals that because of biological changes of the female body during pregnancy, pregnant women are more infectious than if they were not pregnant. Over a thousand couples in which the male was HIV positive and over 2200 couples in which the female was positive were studied over a two year period. The results showed that both male to female and female to male transmission were increased during pregnancy. This fact is important because in many couples condom use during pregnancy is not seen as necessary because the female is already pregnant. This type of thinking could lead to an increase in new infections over the course of time.

More Information on HIV and Pregnancy

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