Hemera/Thinkstock(DURHAM, N.C.) -- A gene mutation can increase your risk of heart attack and death as much as smoking does, new research suggests.
healtheo360 Wellness Blog
Apparent problems with an online risk calculator, released last week along with new cholesterol guidelines, prompted one expert Monday to suggest implementation of the guidelines be postponed.
Cholesterol has long been seen as a villain for heart health, but our understanding of this beast is changing. New recommendations suggest that risk factors should determine who should receive drugs called statins to lower cholesterol levels, and who should simply make lifestyle changes to combat the problem.
When it comes to size, bigger isn’t always better, and a new study on testicles of all things shows what the consequences of an enlarged package just might be: a connection was found between large testicles and heart disease risk.
Researchers in Italy measured testicle size of more than 2,800 men who sought medical help for sexual dysfunction, and conducted follow up examinations with half of them for seven years. Surprisingly, they found an association between testicle size and risk factors associated with heart disease and heart attacks – namely smoking, heavy drinking, obesity, and high blood pressure.
The findings caught the research team off guard, as larger testicles usually predict a certain level of healthiness. Indeed, Guilia Rasterelli, the lead researcher on the project, conceded, “Although it is generally assumed that testis size can predict reproductive fitness, our results indicate that this objective parameter can provide insights also on overall health and [cardiovascular disease] risk."
The reason behind it all: hormones. Testicle size is controlled by the amount of testosterone present in the body, and testosterone production is regulated in turn by another hormone. This chemical is called luteinizing hormone, or LH for short, and may be responsible for causing problems with the cardiovascular system. However, elevated LH levels would not explain why these men are predisposed to lifestyle risk factors like smoking and drinking.
The jury is still out on the results of the study, and many experts find the results conflicting. Consider the following: testicles in a way are responsible for their own size. If testosterone production is down, the testes will begin to shrink. In order to stop from getting too small, the testes will release some chemical that will signal the release of LH, which will facilitate the production of testosterone, which will bring them back up to size. Physiologically, elevated levels of LH should be seen in men with smaller testicles, those that are desperately trying to up-regulate testosterone production so that they can return to a normal size.
“I think there isn’t a relationship that makes sense here,” said Dr. Andrew Kramer, a urologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The researchers understand this apparent contradiction and admit that another factor, not considered in the study, may be responsible for both the high LH levels and the heart problems.
Finally, due to the unrepresentative population covered in the study – men who sought medical attention due to sexual dysfunction – additional studies must be conducted before results can be applied to the all men, at large.
Good & Bad Food Combinations
Certain foods are healthier when eaten together. For example, tomatoes and avocado - the lycopene in tomato is better absorbed when some fat is present. Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines use different forms of fat (e.g. olive oil or avocado) to enhance the flavor and nutrients in tomatoes. However, certain foods are not recommended to be eaten together. For example, beans and cheese. Mixing high gas food (beans) and high fat food (cheese) together will lead to gas and bloating.
Heart failure patients are surviving their conditions more often, but a worrisome study shows that they are increasingly likely to develop cancer. According to an online study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology , this disturbing trend could actually be due to side effects of treatments and simply the fact that their medical surveillance has increased.
An ongoing study labeled Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has published an interesting article in Stroke. The report shows that even minuscule improvements in lifestyle addressing cardiovascular risk factors significantly reduces the risk of an individual suffering a stroke.
Chronic illness doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, even those who seem to have it all. When celebrities talk about their chronic conditions publicly, it helps to raise awareness and understanding about various health issues. Here is a list of celebrities living with chronic illness who publicly discuss their health conditions and share their struggles with millions of others who also fight against their illnesses everyday.
A recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, highlighted that risk factors for developing heart disease are also linked to a decrease in brain function as well.