Biological, social and behavioural factors have led to differences in the most common causes of health problems faced by men and women. Men die younger than women and bear a greater burden of disease throughout their lives. They get sick at a younger age and have illnesses that last longer than women. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and depression are the top male killers. However, men also face male-specific issues such as prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Heart disease comes in many forms. All its manifestations can lead to serious and fatal complications if they are not noticed. One in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease. Hypertension and stroke are also common in men under the age of 45. Lifestyle modification and routine medical checkups can help manage heart-related risks, as your doctor can calculate your risk for cardiovascular disease based on several risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking habits.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in men after heart disease. Skin, prostate, colon and lung cancers are among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men. The combination of a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups ensures that disease stays at bay. Regularly applying sunscreen, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and reducing red meat consumption all help reduce the risk of cancer.
Diabetes usually sets in without showing any signs. It raises blood sugar levels and eventually passes into the urine. Increased urination and thirst are the first visible signs of diabetes. High glucose acts like a slow poison on blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. Heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure and amputations are the consequences for many men.
If left untreated, diabetes causes nerve and kidney damage, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, causes vision problems and blindness. Men with diabetes are also at risk for lower testosterone levels and sexual impotence, which in turn can lead to increased depression or anxiety.
Mental Health and Depression
Depression in men can go unnoticed because the symptoms don't always match what they expect. Men sometimes experience depression as anger or irritability rather than sadness. They are also more likely to sweep these feelings under the rug.
It is often believed that depression affects women far more than men. In fact, it may be a tendency for men to hide feelings of depression, or to present them differently than women. When it comes to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, men are reluctant to seek help, which significantly increases the risk of suicidal behaviour. Given the stigma associated with mental health problems, especially among men, it is crucial to dispel misconceptions and make therapy more available to those in need.
The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is atherosclerosis, the same condition that causes stroke and heart attack. In fact, having ED usually indicates that blood vessels throughout the body are not in good condition. Erectile dysfunction is considered by doctors to be an early risk symptom of cardiovascular disease. Although erectile dysfunction is not a life-threatening condition, it does indicate a serious health problem.
Erectile dysfunction affects two thirds of men over the age of 70 and up to 39 per cent of men under the age of 40. Men with erectile dysfunction are less happy and more likely to be depressed.
The bad news is that the average man pays less attention to his health than the average woman. The good news is that men can be healthy by taking control of their lifestyle. Whether it's eating better, quitting bad habits like smoking, or getting regular check-ups, here are some steps you can take to prevent common health problems in men of all ages. Whatever health issues you face, you can take control of your well-being by taking preventative and proactive measures today. (Agency)
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London: UK researchers have identified a potential link between inflammation and the structure of specific regions of the brain, which may help in the treatment of neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders including autism spectrum and schizophrenia.
According to the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, the findings could open up a completely new target for the pharmacological treatment of these disorders, which has not significantly changed since the identification of antipsychotic medications in the mid-late 20th century.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham showed that genes associated with inflammation, particularly interleukin (IL) 6, are linked to a reduction in grey matter volume in certain areas of the brain known to be implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders.
In the study, the team was able to compare genetic variants which affect levels of IL-6, and other inflammatory genes in more than 20,000 patients with changes in grey matter volume in specific areas of the brain.
They were able to show strong links between IL-6 and brain structure particularly in the temporal and frontal regions.
Further analysis using the Allen Human Brain Atlas, showed that genes overexpressed in these areas are associated with conditions such as epilepsy, cognitive dysfunction, and schizophrenia.
"This study shows that the IL-6 gene, which we know to be linked to systemic inflammation, also affects brain structure in areas associated with these neuropsychiatric disorders. This could be the first new target for severe mental illnesses including schizophrenia identified in more than 60 years," said Professor Rachel Upthegrove, in the University's Institute for Mental Health.
Current treatments for these illnesses act on dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain associated with mood and attention.
These drugs can have side effects, however, and they are not effective in all patients.
"There are drugs already on the market which target inflammation as well as the opportunity to screen potential new compounds. Finding a new avenue for exploring the links between inflammation, brain structure and neuropsychiatric disorders is really exciting," said John Williams, of the Institute for Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University. (agency)
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London: Genetic variants that damage the genome are associated with reduced reproductive success and an increased likelihood of not having children, suggests research.
According to researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the UK, one mechanism of natural selection that is removing damaging genetic variation from the population is increased childlessness.
It is likely linked to genetic influences on cognitive and behavioural traits, which may mean that men and women with these genetic variants are less likely to form reproductive partnerships.
However, the study, published in the journal Nature, also showed that this genetic link may play a very minor role in the overall likelihood of being childless. It accounts for less than one per cent when compared to more influential factors such as sociodemographic factors and choice.
In the study, the team included more than 340,000 participants, and investigated whether damaging genetic variants were associated with lower reproductive success by calculating for each person, how much damaging genetic variation they carry across their entire genome, known as their 'genetic burden'.
They tested whether genetic burden was associated with the number of children that the participants had, and found it was associated with men with the highest genetic burden having an average 0.26 fewer children - but this was not seen in women.
The team also found that increasing genetic burden was associated with a higher chance of being childless in both men and women, but much more so in men.
"It's important to emphasise that we have not found a 'gene for childlessness', as that implies a strong, causal effect of genetic variation on whether or not someone will have children. Instead we have shown that people with damaged genomes, particularly men, are slightly more likely to be childless," said Eugene Gardner at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.
"This is probably due to the effect of damaging genetic variants on cognitive and behavioural traits, which make these men less likely to find a partner to have children with," said Gardner, who was at the Wellcome Sanger Institute while doing the research.
While the genetic burden is not associated with infertility, both men and women with a higher genetic burden were more likely to have mental health disorders. (agency)
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On the eve of Holi, doctors here have warned that dry colours may cause more harm to the eye as compared to liquid colours.
According to Shantanu Mukherji, a senior consultant with the Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, "Synthetic colours contain harmful agents like industrial dyes and alkalis, which are incredibly toxic for the human skin, especially the eyes.
Their use can also cause symptoms like irritation, redness, allergies and even permanent loss of vision in case of severe chemical injury to the eye."
"The other thing that causes eye problems is poor hygiene. If one tries to remove colour by rubbing the eye with dirty fingers, it may expose one to the risk of infective conjunctivitis," he added.
Talking about skin problems after Holi, dermatologist Amit Bangia advised applying oil on exposed skin before playing Holi.
"Use colours made from natural ingredients as much as possible like rose petal, marigold flowers, turmeric, beet root etc. Remove colour with mild face wash and moisturise the skin after cleaning the color," he said.
Bangia also said that the festival of Holi involves close proximity in large gatherings, which is a perfect recipe for the spread of Covid.
Children who are not vaccinated and the elderly who are susceptible to complications should avoid playing Holi, he added.
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London: Seven in ten long Covid patients experience concentration and memory problems several months after the initial onset of their disease, with many performing worse than their peers on cognitive tests, according to twin studies.
In the studies led by University of Cambridge, researchers showed that half of the patients reported difficulties in getting medical professionals to take their symptoms seriously. It was likely because cognitive symptoms do not get the same attention as lung problems or fatigue.
In a study of 181 long Covid patients, 78 per cent reported difficulty concentrating, 69 per cent reported brain fog, 68 per cent reported forgetfulness, and 60 per cent reported problems finding the right word in speech. These self-reported symptoms were reflected in significantly lower ability to remember words and pictures in cognitive tests.
Participants carried out multiple tasks to assess their decision-making and memory. These included remembering words in a list, and remembering which two images appeared together.
The results revealed a consistent pattern of ongoing memory problems in those who had suffered Covid-19 infection. Problems were more pronounced in people whose overall ongoing symptoms were more severe.
To help understand the cause of the cognitive issues, the researchers investigated other symptoms that might be linked.
They found that people who experienced fatigue and neurological symptoms, like dizziness and headache, during their initial illness were more likely to have cognitive symptoms later on. They also found that those who were still experiencing neurological symptoms were particularly impaired on cognitive tests.
The researchers noted that their results support other findings that suggest society will face a 'long tail' of workforce illness due to long Covid. It is therefore important not just for the sake of individuals, but for broader society, to be able to prevent, predict, identify and treat issues associated with long Covid.
"Long Covid has received very little attention politically or medically. It urgently needs to be taken more seriously, and cognitive issues are an important part of this. When politicians talk about aLiving with Covid' - that is, unmitigated infection, this is something they ignore. The impact on the working population could be huge," said Dr Lucy Cheke, a researcher in the University of Cambridge's Department of Psychology. (agency)
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Thyroid disorders are quickly becoming one of the most common health concerns in India, with more than 42 million people suffering from some form of thyroid disorder. Also, 1 in every 10 people in India has thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid cancer, and over 60 per cent of them go undiagnosed.
It can affect people of all ages, but women are more likely to be affected because it is often inherited from family members and also results from iodine deficiency. While traditional treatments usually focus on drugs and surgery, eastern treatments like acupuncture can effectively manage thyroid issues. While acupuncture has many applications, it has proven to be especially effective in the safe and natural treatment of all types of hormonal imbalances.
What is Thyroid?
The thyroid happens to be a butterfly-shaped gland that is situated at the front of the neck. The gland is responsible for metabolism, energy, hormone regulation, body weight, and blood calcium levels.It is one of the endocrine glands that make hormones.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine hormone. Similarly, hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain crucial thyroid hormones. Here are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism:
Weight loss despite good appetite
Increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, heart palpitations, nervousness and excessive perspiration
Frequent bowel movements, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea
Shorter or lighter menstrual periods
Development of a goiter (an enlargement in the neck)
Lethargy, depression or slower mental processes
Increased sensitivity to cold
Reduced heart rate
Numbness or tingling in the hands
Heavy menstrual periods or dry hair and skin
Hormones are like messengers in the body that are responsible for numerous functions, such as overseeing the regulation of sleep cycles, emotional health, reproduction, physical growth, metabolism, mental acuity, body temperature, the immune system, and energy levels.
When they go out of balance, all of the body's systems can be adversely affected. Fluctuations can be a natural occurrence, but long-term imbalances are not. That is why it is important to get diagnosed by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood.
How Acupuncture Helps
According to traditional Chinese medicine philosophy, most diseases stem from imbalances in the key energies of the body and spirit. "Qi" which can be defined as life force energy, flows along pathways through the body known as "meridians".
It must be kept strong and flowing freely. If Qi is weak or the meridians are blocked, certain organs will not get the nourishment they require, and illness will result.
Acupuncture is a process that involves inserting very thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body that coordinate with particular pathways of Qi. By targeting these meridians or pathways, an acupuncture practitioner aims to bring back into balance a disruption of Qi believed to cause thyroid disorders or other symptoms of a disease.
According to the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture can treat thyroid disease in many ways, such as:
Lowering thyroid hormone levels in patients with hyperthyroidism
Increasing thyroid hormone levels in people with hypothyroidism
Reducing sensitivity to stress and pain, as well as promoting relaxation
Improving joint mobility and muscle stiffness by increasing blood circulation in small blood vessels
Enhancing the release of the chemical adenosine, which reduces sensitivity to pain
Reducing inflammation by helping in the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors
Along with acupuncture, certain lifestyle changes like a diet rich in calcium, protein, magnesium, and iodine help support thyroid function. Also, certain foods known as goitrogens may interfere with thyroid hormone production and should be limited.
These include cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), soy, and peanuts. Stress-reducing exercises like yoga or tai chi can also be helpful. (Dr.Srividya Nandakumar - Senior Naturopath, Jindal Naturecure Institute)
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