men's health

  1. Vitamin B12 levels can slash your risk of a fracture

    B12 for bone health

    When it comes to bone health, vitamin B12 levels aren't the first thing that comes to mind. It's not second, third or fourth, either.

    It might not even crack the top 10.

    But maybe it should make that list after all, because new research finds that low B12 levels can lead to a bone break, especially in senior men.

    The lower your levels, the higher your risk, according to the study of more than 1,000 men with an average age of 75. And if you're among the millions quietly suffering from low B12 levels, you're facing a 70 percent higher risk of fracture overall and a 120 percent jump in the risk of a potentially crippling lumbar fracture.

    That's a fracture you might not recognize as a bone break at first. No, all you know is that you've got a little back pain -- and since back pain tends to come and go over the years, you might even ignore it at first.

    But this one doesn't go away.

    Instead, it gets progressively worse -- and eventually, you're in so much pain you can't even bend down to tie your shoes.

    Standing too long hurts. Sitting too much hurts. And you don't even want to think about how tough it is to sleep with a lumbar fracture.

    That's why it's critical to give your bones everything they need to stay strong. While B12 may play a role here, this is the first study to make the link -- so let's not rush out and add B12 for bone health just yet.

    I'd like to see more research first.

    That said, most seniors are low in B vitamins -- and since these nutrients are critical to brain and nerve function, adding a supplement is not a bad idea.

    (Click here for more on B12 levels and brain health.)

    But for bone health, let's stick to the tried and true.

    You already know about the importance of calcium when it comes to bone health. But what you may not realize is that calcium is practically useless by itself. You need both vitamin D and magnesium to put it to work -- and while many people have adequate calcium levels, most fall short in D and magnesium.

    Also consider vitamin K, which the body needs to form the protein that brings calcium into the bone matrix. Studies have shown that low K levels increase the risk of both osteoporosis and bone breaks.

    One note of caution: Speak with a doctor before taking vitamin K, especially if you're on blood thinners.

  2. Fish oil and prostate cancer risk

    Something fishy about this study

    Go ahead, gents -- drink, smoke and eat a whole lot of junk food, because all those things will protect you from prostate cancer.

    Crazy? You bet it is... yet you'll find those little gems hidden in the data of a headline-making new study of fish oil and prostate cancer risk.

    But that's not the part that's making headlines.

    No, the only part the media is focusing on -- and the only part the researchers seem interested in talking about -- is the part that found ever-so-slightly-higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids might (and as you'll see, this might is built on some mighty shaky ground) increase the risk of prostate cancer.

    Supposedly, omega-3s will increase the risk of low-grade tumors by 44 percent and more aggressive cancers by 71 percent -- and the authors of the fish oil and prostate cancer study have been urging men to stop taking their fish oil supplements as a result.

    And that's just dishonest -- because the REAL headline here is that the study didn't involve any fish oil supplements at all.

    Instead, the researchers used data from an older study on vitamin E and selenium -- and as part of that study, the men had their blood levels of omega-3s checked once (yes, only once).

    Most of them were actually quite low, with about 40 percent of the levels you typically see in patients taking supplements, according to an analysis by the Alliance for Natural Health.

    The levels were also consistently low -- so consistently low that the difference between the "high-risk" group and "low-risk" group amounted to just 0.2 percent, according to another analysis by Council for Responsible Nutrition.

    That's not a correlation. That's a pure fluke -- which I guess is the only part of the study that comes close to any kind of fish.

    But if you really want proof that this fish oil and prostate cancer study isn't a keeper, just take a look at those other "discoveries" I mentioned earlier -- because if you go by the "high-risk" and "low-risk" groupings the researchers essentially concocted out of thin air, you get some pretty bizarre conclusions.

    You'll find, for example, that men who smoke have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Same for men who drink, as well as men who consume the trans-fatty acids found in junk food.

    Now, you can believe that fish oil is bad for you and that drinking, smoking and junk food are good for you, or you can believe that this fish oil and prostate cancer study is just a great pile of junk.

    I'll leave that up to you.

    But personally, I'm not going to stop taking my fish oil supplements -- and I'm advising my patients to keep taking theirs.

  3. Watchful waiting for prostate cancer

    Less is more when it comes to prostate cancer -- and new research shows that men who take a hands-off approach to the disease have better outcomes.
  4. Getting fit slashes risk of cancer and heart disease

    A new study finds that keeping fit can dramatically slash your risk for lung and colon cancer as well as heart disease.
  5. Sleep disorder boosts prostate risk

    Poor sleep habits increase the risk of prostate cancer, including potentially deadly advanced tumors.
  6. Selenium benefits can stop prostate cancer

    Selenium not only protects against prostate cancer, it can also slash your risk of the most aggressive and potentially deadliest tumors of all.
  7. Slash prostate risk by getting healthy and active

    Active men are less likely to have prostate tumors and less likely to have more aggressive cancers when they do get tumors.
  8. Walnuts can boost sperm quality

    It's the nutty way to boost fertility: Men given walnuts for 12 weeks had better sperm quality than men told to avoid all nuts.
  9. Prostate surgery can lead to sexual dysfunction but not life saving

    Men with prostate cancer who don't get surgery have nearly the same survival rate as those who do -- with none of the risks of surgery, according to a new study.
  10. Obesity linked to erection and urinary problems

    Obese men have triple the risk of ejaculation problems and double the risk of erection problems as thin men, as well as a higher risk of urinary problems.
  11. The risk of a PSA test outweighs the benefits

    The PSA test used for years to help detect prostate cancer has been found to be unreliable.

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