ParentCare » Vol. 2

News – Research, Studies and Findings

Oral testosterone supplements are no help to aging men

Taking oral testosterone supplements didn’t improve cognitive function, increase bone density or improve quality of life, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers think that oral testosterone may not be as effective as gels, patches or injections. Men’s testosterone levels decline as they age and that decline is linked to loss of muscle mass and strength, gain of abdominal fat, cognitive decline and bone loss. At the Utrecht Medical Center in Holland, researchers gave testosterone supplements or an inactive placebo to 237 men aged 60 to 80 who had low or low-normal testosterone levels and were otherwise in good health. While some men experienced increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass, they didn’t get any stronger. Worse, their “good” cholesterol levels declined, putting them more at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Researchers concluded that oral supplements didn’t provide a consistently high level of testosterone over a 24-hour cycle. Oral testosterone supplements are not approved for use in the United States.

Testosterone product for women in Phase III trial

A testosterone-bearing gel patch for women, intended to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder, is now in Phase III safety study. Its maker, BioSante Pharmaceuticals, claims that the Libigel patch keeps testosterone levels constant. A Phase II efficacy trial showed marked improvement in the number of what BioSante described in a public statement as “satisfying sexual events.” The primary focus of BioSante’s LibiGel Phase III safety study is to evaluate the cardiovascular risk of using testosterone in women, a key pre-approval concern of the FDA. The final study protocol seeks to show the relative safety of using a low dose testosterone versus placebo in the treatment of FSD in menopausal women. If approved, BioSante claims, LibiGel will be the first product of its kind. The study involves 2,400 to 3,100 women exposed to LibiGel or a placebo for 12 months. Upon its conclusion, the company can file a new drug application with the FDA, seeking approval of the drug. After NDA submission and potential approval of LibiGel, BioSante will continue to follow the women enrolled in the study for an additional four years.

Poor doctor-patient communication results in “mismatched” prostate treatment

Men with early prostate cancer should tell their doctors about any problems with bowel, urinary or sexual activity before choosing a prostate cancer treatment. A new study, which was conducted over six years and involved 440 patients, showed that more than a third of men with early prostate cancer received treatments that weren’t right for them. Researchers noted that prostate cancer treatment directly affects things that most people are reluctant to discuss. But for doctors, this information is crucial because various treatments have different side effects.

Standard treatment options include radiation therapy or surgery. Each is method is equally effective but poses different risks of bowel dysfunction, and urinary and sexual problems. Patients who already have problems could find their symptoms worsening if they don’t tell their doctors about them. In the study, 89 percent of the patients who completed the study reported some level of problems before beginning treatment. Researchers speculate that it’s easier to address sensitive topics on a questionnaire than to bring them up in conversation. They suggest using a questionnaire as part of the treatment decision-making process.

FDA clears real-time test for respiratory viruses

In a development with the potential to cut down on unnecessary use of antibiotics, the Food and Drug Administration has approved for use a test that can identify four respiratory viruses or their subtypes, including several flu and rhinovirus. The test, named ProFlu, gives an answer in as little as three hours. It’s expected to be used in hospital labs and private medical practices. Other such tests are fast but not as accurate, or are as accurate but not as fast. ProFlu, manufactured by Prodesse Inc. of Milwaukee, can detect influenza A virus, influenza B virus, and respiratory syncytial virus A and B (RSV). These viruses can cause influenza, an infection of the airways called bronchiolitis, and pneumonia. All are among the leading causes of lower respiratory tract infections. While ProFlu+ is faster than conventional tests, it is specific to the four viruses and is more accurate when used with other diagnostics (such as patient data, bacterial, or viral cultures) and X-rays in diagnosing a patient. Positive results do not rule out other infection or co-infection and the virus detected may not be the specific cause of the disease or patient symptoms.

Adults over 70 get updated Food Pyramid

Nutrition specialists at Tufts University have updated the Food Pyramid for older adults. The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults emphasizes nutrient and fiber-rich foods instead of supplements. Researchers say that while older people need fewer calories because of decreased physical and metabolic activity, they still require the same ~ or higher ~ levels of nutrients for good health. Its recommendations include eating a variety of whole grains, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, low-fat and non-fat dairy foods. The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults was published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Added to the new pyramid is a foundation depicting physical activities characteristic of older adults, such as walking, doing yard work, and swimming.

Emphasized in the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults are icons depicting packaged fruits and vegetables in addition to fresh examples, forms that for a number of reasons may be more appropriate for older adults. These include, for example, bags of frozen pre-cut vegetables that can be resealed or single-serve portions of canned fruit. The authors note food and beverages with high water content, such as lettuce, vegetable juice and soups, are important contributors of fluid in an older person’s diet.

Restless-leg syndrome increases stroke risk

People suffering from so-called “Restless Leg Syndrome” are twice as likely to have a stroke or develop heart disease as those who don’t, according to a report in Neurology. Harvard Medical School sleep researcher Dr. John Winkelman said the association was strongest in those who had at least 16 episodes of Restless Leg Syndrome per month. The observational study of 1,559 men and 1,874 women averaging 68 years of age found that 6.8 percent of the women and 3.3 percent of the men suffered from RLS.

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