Isnin, 30 September 2013

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Strong people may have genetic advantage


Study suggests elite 'power' athletes carry more power-boosting genes.

BEATING yourself up for not being able to lift as much weight as the musclehead beside you at the gym? A new study suggests that's because elite athletes may have a genetic advantage and carry more of the power-boosting genes than the rest of us.

According to new research published in the October issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, elite "power" athletes – defined as power-lifters, short-distance runners, and jumpers – were more likely to carry a specific genotype compared to elite endurance athletes (long-distance runners, swimmers and rowers) and non-athletes.

More specifically, power athletes were three times more likely than endurance athletes to carry the allele in question – a CC genotype inherited from both parents – and twice as likely to have the gene than non-athletes.

The study out of Poland took DNA samples from 100 power athletes, 123 endurance athletes, and 344 non-athletes.

All athletes had competed at the international level such as World and European championships or the Olympic Games.

Researchers point out that the study could have implications for identifying and training elite-level athletes.

The latest study is part of an ongoing discussion about how genes play a role in the predisposition of athletic performance.

Another study published in Physiological Genomics also found that elite endurance athletes were more likely to carry a variation of a particular gene, the NRF2, than the rest of the population. – AFP Relaxnews

Prostate's link with men's general health


Benign prostate enlargement is linked to men's lifestyles and other health conditions, such as obesity, erectile dysfunction, diabetes and heart disease.

MANY men in their 50s and above come to accept prostate enlargement with resignation. It is a common belief that prostate enlargement, or BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia), is an inevitable part of ageing, just like greying hair and wrinkles.

While it is true that the prostate tends to enlarge after the age of 40, not all men are beset by prostate problems once they hit that age. Some men go through their senior years without being troubled by lower urinary tract symptoms, such as incontinence, problems voiding or weak urinary flow.

Therefore, it is wrong to assume that BPH and its symptoms are purely a direct consequence of age. In fact, BPH is linked to men's lifestyles and other health conditions, such as obesity, erectile dysfunction, diabetes and heart disease.

Not only do these conditions have an effect on prostate health, but the reverse is also true. The prostate can also affect other organs and systems in the body.

Being aware of how the prostate is associated with other diseases provides an opportunity to prevent or manage BPH a little better.

Obesity and big stomachs

Research shows that urinary and prostate problems are very strongly associated with obesity and a large waist circumference.

A study by Kaplan et a- has shown that men with bigger waists have poorer urological health measurements: their prostates were more enlarged, their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were higher, their International Prostate Symptoms Score was higher, and their urinary flow rate was lower.

Another study, the Health Professionals Follow Up Study, found that men with larger abdomens were 100% more likely to have lower urinary tract symptoms and 38% more likely to undergo surgery for BPH.

Meanwhile, body mass index (BMI), an indicator of obesity, is also closely linked to bigger prostates. The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging found that obese men (BMI more than 35) were three to five times more at risk of having an enlarged prostate.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

ED, which affects nearly 50% of men above the age of 40, has a strong correlation with prostate problems.

Studies in Germany, as well as in Malaysia, have shown that men with ED are more likely to present with complaints of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

Not only are men with ED more likely to have LUTS, but the severity of both conditions are also linked. As LUTS becomes more severe, the prevalence of ED and ejaculation problems (including reduced ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, dry ejaculation, painful ejaculation and less pleasurable ejaculation) increase correspondingly.

The relationship between LUTS and ED suggests that urinary problems are a marker for ED, and that men diagnosed with LUTS should also seek early diagnosis and treatment for their sexual problems.

Metabolic syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that co-exist and increases a person's risk of heart disease and diabetes by three to five times. The conditions are high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, low HDL ("good" cholesterol) and abdominal fat.

Metabolic syndrome is linked with growth of the prostate, as the increased level of insulin acts as a growth factor (something that stimulates cells to grow). The metabolic syndrome also causes other changes in the body, such as deposition of fat in the abdominal area, which causes obstruction of pelvic blood vessels leading to nerve irritation and prostate symptoms.

As we have already seen earlier, obesity and abdominal fat are linked with poorer urological health outcomes related to the prostate. Now, two other conditions in the metabolic syndrome – high blood glucose and blood pressure levels – are also shown to increase the risk of developing moderate to severe LUTS.

Men with LUTS were found to experience higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and hypertension.

We should not ignore the link between an unhealthy lifestyle and LUTS. This knowledge provides a strong hint for men to change their lifestyle habits, as LUTS not only leads to urinary problems, but could also lead to premature death if emergency acute retention of urine develops.

Poor lifestyle habits and obesity also lead to many other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and stroke, just to name a few!

Preventing prostate problems

Even though prostate enlargement is a natural occurrence in men after the age of 40, the symptoms of BPH can still be largely reduced or prevented by reducing the enlargement of the prostate.

There is a strong possibility that men may be able to prevent LUTS by controlling the metabolic syndrome and its associated conditions.

Changing eating practices is the first step. Studies have found that consuming excessive energy from carbohydrates and fat increases the risk of BPH and LUTS.

On the other hand, foods like pulses (peas, beans and lentils), cooked vegetables, fruits, and foods rich in polyunsaturated fats and omega-6 linoleic acid (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and fish) can lower the risk of BPH.

Exercise is another BPH-prevention strategy, though many men in their 40s and 50s may groan at this. Many studies have proven that daily physical activity and exercise can reduce LUTS by up to 50% by reducing the weight of the prostate gland and increasing urinary flow rate.

Alcohol consumption should be kept to a moderate rate (no more than two small glasses of wine, 1½ pints of beer or three single shots of spirits), while smoking should be stopped altogether. In fact, smoking actually increases the risk of developing an enlarged prostate and urinary symptoms.

The beauty of practising a healthy diet and physical activity is that these lifestyle changes can create ripples of positive effects on many aspects of health and disease.

What is good for the prostate is certainly good for the rest of you!

For more on men's health and the prostate, you may want to read the newly-published book by the MMHI.

Members of the Malaysian Men's Health Initiative (MMHI) include Prof Dr Tan Hui Meng, Prof Dr Ng Chirk Jenn, Prof Dr Low Wah Yun, Prof Dr Khoo Ee Ming, Assoc Prof Dr Tong Seng Fah, Dr Verna Lee Kar Mun, Dr Lee Boon Cheok, Prof Dr George Lee Eng Geap, Assoc Prof Dr Zulkifli Md. Zainuddin, Assoc Prof Christopher Ho Chee Kong, Assoc Prof Dr Ong Teng Aik, Dr Yap Piang Kian and Dr Goh Eng Hong. For more information, e-mail The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel provides this information for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this article.


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