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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

Hip Pain - Should You Be Concerned?

Friday April 23, 2010

LT had no idea that the mild pain in his left leg was something to be concerned about. It started innocently enough. Some vague discomfort in the left leg, especially in the groin area. Later, the pain became a bit more severe and started to involve the hip. Soon walking became difficult and the pain became unbearable. That's when LT decided to see his doctor. After a battery of tests LT was told he had a degenerative bone and vascular disease of the hip known as avascular necrosis or AVN. What is AVN and how is it treated? Let's examine this problem a little closer.

More About Pain and Pain Control

Understanding AIDS Phobia

Friday March 19, 2010

There are two diseases that strike fear in most everyone; "cancer," and "AIDS." And that fear is completely rational and understandable. But in the matter of AIDS, what happens if that fear takes control of your life? What if you fear the possibility of being infected with HIV so much you are unable to go on with your day to day life? When you fear the potential of infection or fear that you have already been infected even in the face of a handful of negative HIV tests, you may be suffering from a real condition called AIDS phobia. After 14 years of caring for people living with HIV and counseling those who think they have been infected, I've seen that AIDS phobia is real and have also seen how people can better manage their fears.

Related Information

Erectile dysfunction may predict cardiac events

Wednesday March 17, 2010

A recent study published in the journal Circulation found patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) who were treated with telmisartan, ramipril, or both were at greater risk for cardiovascular events than other patients on the same medications.

"The present data clearly show that ED is closely associated with an increased risk for all-cause deaths, as well as the primary composite outcome of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, and hospitalization for heart failure," wrote Michael Böhm, MD, of the University of the Saarland, Saarbrücken, Germany, and colleagues.

For the study, the researchers looked at a subgroup of 1,549 men who had participated in either the ONTARGET study, which looked at the effectiveness of a ramipril/telmisartan combination in patients with cardiovascular disease, or the TRANSCEND sudy, which examined the effects of telmisartan in patients who were intolerant of ACE inhibitors.

Of those enrolled in the ONTARGET study, 400 had been randomly assigned to ramipril, 395 to telmisartan, and 381 to combination therapy. Among those in teh TRANSCEND study, 202 patients had been randomized to placebo and 171 to telmisartan.

Of the 1,519 men included in the final analysis, 842 had moderate to severe ED at baseline and 677 had mild ED or functioned normally.

Senators Ask FDA to Rethink Ban on Gay Men Blood Donation

Sunday March 7, 2010

A group of US Senators led by Senator John Kerry, is urging the Food and Drug Administration to lift the ban preventing gay men from donating blood. The ban was put into place at the height of the HIV scare at a time when the disease was not well understood and the technology to detect HIV in donated blood was just not reliable. The thought behind the ban was that even though donated blood and blood donors are tested, those people who are infected but have yet to develop HIV antibodies could get by the screening system allowing HIV contaminated blood to enter the national blood supply. This along with the increased probability that a gay man would have been exposed to HIV led the FDA to ban gay men from donating. People opposed to the ban argue the technology is more advanced and the screening techniques much more accurate. The FDA however argues that even straight people are required ti wait a year after having sex with a prostitute before they can donate. The group of Senators hope that the national donated blood shortage will push the FDA into easing the gay donation ban. Time will tell.

More Information

What Do You Think?

So what are your thoughts on lifting the ban on gay men donating blood. Should gay men be allowed to donate blood? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on an emerging national debate.

FDA approves generic version of Flomax

Thursday March 4, 2010

Men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) will soon have a cheaper option for treating the condition.

The FDA has approved the first generic version of Flomax (tamsulosin). The generic drug works the same as the brand name, and has similar potential side effects, such as kidney problems, decreased libido, diarrhea, and more.

Remember, the symptoms of BPH can sometimes resemble those of prostate cancer, so if you are experiencing any of these signs, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Happiness is good for the heart

Thursday February 18, 2010

Don't worry, be happy!

According to a recently released study in the European Heart Journal found people with positive personality traits like happiness, contentment and enthusiasm had a reduced risk of heart disease.

Researchers followed 1,739 healthy adults living in Nova Scotia, Canada, for 10 years to determine whether attitudes affect their health.

After accounting for known heart disease risk factors, the researchers found that the happiest people were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease over the 10 years of follow-up than people who fell in the middle of he negative-postive emotion scale.

People with the most negative emotions had the highest risk for heart disease and people who scored highest for happiness had the lowest risk.

"It is just speculation at this point, but there are several possible explanations for how happiness may protect the heart," lead researcher Karina W. Davidson, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center told WebMD.

They include:

  • Healthier lifestyle: Happy people tend to sleep better, eat better, smoke less and get more exercise. All of these things lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Physiological impact: Happiness may produce a host of positive chemical changes - such as reduction in stress hormones - that are good for the heart.
  • Genetic influences: It could be that people who are predisposed to happiness are also predisposed to have fewer heart attacks.

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