Obese Men Produce Less Semen
Hundreds of stories appeared in the media this week reporting on a study that found that being obese negatively affects a man's fertility. Fat men had a 60 percent higher chance of having a low volume of semen and also a 40 percent higher chance of having sperm abnormalities, the Associated Press reported. Different levels of hormones in obese men, overheating of the testicles, and diet all may contribute to lower sperm quality, researchers told Bloomberg. My colleague, Deborah Kotz, last year offered advice on ways that men can reduce a couple's risk of infertility. Stay slim, temporarily avoid soy, and steer clear of performance-enhancing drugs, she advised.
Hormone Therapy May Not Help Elderly Men With Prostate Cancer
In a surprise finding, researchers reported this week that receiving surgical or medical castration—called hormone therapy—does not prolong survival for some men with prostate cancer. As the Los Angeles Times reports, hormone therapy is a powerful tool when used in conjunction with surgery or radiation for treating aggressive prostate tumors that have spread beyond the prostate. But for localized, less-aggressive tumors, the benefit disappears, particularly for older men who have other chronic illnesses. That's why it's crucial, I reported in this blog earlier this week, that men consider the downsides of hormone treatment before plunging forward. For more on prostate cancer, see these stories about proton beam therapy and how to weigh treatment options. The U.S. News Prostate Cancer Channel, developed with Johns Hopkins, offers additional information on the disease.
Melanoma Rates Holding Steady Among Younger Men
While today's news reports on melanoma focused on the rise of that deadly form of skin cancer among women, the same study found no significant increase among men. Of note: The study's author implied in a widely reported quote that sun exposure causes melanoma. In fact, there's still much debate about whether that's true. (Dermatologists do agree that sun exposure causes basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, which are less often lethal than melanoma.) For example, Bernard Ackerman, the emeritus director of the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology and the subject of this New York Times profile, maintains that it's an outright myth, perpetuated in part by the sunscreen industry, that sun exposure causes melanoma.
Ackerman also disputes the oft-repeated statement that melanoma has become more common over the past two and a half decades. Rather, he argues, doctors are finding more melanoma because they've started classifying as melanoma very small and flat tumors that never would have been considered melanoma in decades past. Controversies aside, as I reported a few weeks ago, it's among men that melanoma most often turns deadly. To stop that trend, here are some tips on spotting skin cancer before it kills.
This Week in the Blogosphere
Wired highlights new molecular evidence that broccoli fights prostate cancer. ThirdAge asks why high stress is killing men. A Psychology Today blog makes the case that the sexes are more similar than different. The Masculine Heart lists the 50 greatest quotes about men.