STUDY: Perspiration also reduces stress, alters menstrual cycle
JOURNAL: Biology of Reproduction
ABSTRACT: Biologists at the University of Pennsylvania said they found male perspiration had a surprisingly beneficial effect on women’s moods. It helps reduce stress, induces relaxation and even affects the menstrual cycle.
COMMENTARY: In a study to be published in the journal Biology of Reproduction, researchers collected samples from the underarms of men who refrained from using deodorant for four weeks. The extracts were then blended and applied to the upper lips of 18 women, aged 25 to 45.
The women rated their moods on a fixed scale for a period of six hours. The findings suggested something in the perspiration brightened their moods and helped them feel less tense.
Blood analyses also showed a rise in levels of the reproductive luteinizing hormone that typically surge before ovulation.
Wysocki, a study co-author, said the research could point to a “chemical communication” subtext between the sexes that enables men and women to coordinate their reproductive efforts subliminally.
There was no sign women were sexually aroused by male perspiration. In fact, the women never suspected they had men’s sweat under their noses and believed they were helping to test alcohol, perfume or lemon floor wax.
“The study was done in quite a sterile environment. It’s not strange that they were not thinking sexual thoughts,” said Wysocki. “In a more sensual setting, exposure to these odors might facilitate the emergence of sexual mood or feelings.”
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers said the study could lead to new fertility therapies and treatments for premenstrual syndrome if the active agent in male perspiration could be isolated.
STUDY: Study finds more reasons for women not to take hormones
JOURNAL: Baylor College of Medicine
AUTHORS: Jennifer Hays
ABSTRACT: Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy, already shown to be bad for older women’s physical health, is found to be no panacea for their memory or mental outlook either.
In a challenge to popular belief, a large study finds that estrogen and progestin pills fail to make older women feel better by improving their memory, sleep or sex lives.
COMMENTARY: The results suggest this is nothing more than a placebo effect. The researchers conclude the pills are still an effective treatment for short-term relief from hot flashes and night sweats, but nothing else.
“The average woman will not experience an improvement in her quality of life by taking this pill,” said Jennifer Hays of Baylor College of Medicine, a psychologist who directed the analysis.
While hormone replacement decreases hip fractures and colon cancer, it slightly increases the chance of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer.
Despite those findings, many women vowed to stick with hormone replacement because they felt it helps their memory and mood and generally made them think and feel better. The new report rejects that contention, too.
“There is a myth that hormone therapy improves quality of life, even in women without menopausal symptoms. This study dispels the myth,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Experts now say the hormones’ only acceptable use is for the short-term relief of severe menopausal symptoms.
JOURNAL: American Journal of Epidemiology 2003;157:345-354
AUTHORS: Dr. James Cerhan
ABSTRACT: Zinc and an antioxidant found in citrus fruit may lower the risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
COMMENTARY: The researchers looked at nearly 30,000 women from the Iowa Women's Health Study. All had answered a food questionnaire in 1986 that assessed how much and how often they ate certain foods as well as their vitamin and supplement intake.
Years later, there were 158 cases of rheumatoid arthritis among the women. The diets of those women were compared with those of study participants who remained free of the illness.
The doctors found that women getting less than 40 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin, which is found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, were at a slightly higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than women who consumed more than that amount.
When they looked at the amount of zinc in each woman's diet, they found that those who took zinc supplements had a lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis. But getting an equivalent amount of zinc from food was not associated with decreased risk.
The message to the general consumer, is here's another reason to eat your fruits and vegetables.
Not only can they protect you from chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, but now they may also prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
JOURNAL: American College of Preventive Medicine
AUTHORS: Dr. John Gaziano
ABSTRACT: After age 50, tall men have a moderately higher risk of developing prostate cancer than their shorter peers.
COMMENTARY: Using data from an ongoing health study of more than 22,000 US physicians, researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital measured the relationship between body size and age to the risk of prostate cancer in 1,634 men who developed the cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second-biggest cancer killer of men in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 220,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2003 and nearly 30,000 men will die from it.
But the disease's mortality rate is relatively low because it is a slow-growing cancer, easily cured if caught early.
The average age at which a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer is 70, but African Americans and men with a family history of the disease are at higher risk.
The study population of US physicians included about 7% to 8% minorities, a number too small to draw conclusions.
The Harvard researchers looked at three categories of height: under 5 ft. 10 inches, between 5 ft. 10 and 5 ft. 11 and taller than 5 ft. 11. Age was stratified to younger than 50 years, 50 years to 59 years, and over 60 years.
The results, announced at a meeting in San Diego of American College of Preventive Medicine, show that tallness appeared to raise the risk of prostate cancer by 23% to 43%, but only over age 50.
The relative risk is fairly modest compared to other high risk groups--men with a family history of prostate cancer have an increased risk of 200% to 300%, Gaziano noted.
The study detected no relationship between either body mass index or weight and the risk of prostate cancer.
STUDY: Blood screening can identify genetic predisposition
JOURNAL: Johns Hopkins University
AUTHORS: Feinberg, Hengmi Cui, Marcia Cruz-Correa
ABSTRACT: A simple blood test may be able to predict who is at risk of colon cancer offering a way to avoid the embarrassing ordeal of a colonoscopy.
COMMENTARY: They found a single genetic change that was much more common in people with a family history of colon cancer and extremely common in people diagnosed with colon cancer.
Feinberg, Hengmi Cui, Marcia Cruz-Correa and others tested 172 patients at a colonoscopy clinic. They were looking for a specific genetic change called loss of imprinting.
This is not a genetic mutation, but a mistake in how the genes work. People get two copies of each gene — one from each parent — but some are imprinted so that only one copy works.
Feinberg’s lab had previously found that a gene called IGF2, which controls production of insulin-like growth factor 2, had “loss of imprinting” in some forms of cancer.
“In this case both copies are working. This is a gene for cell growth and it makes sense that getting a double dose might lead to cancer,” he said. They looked for this change both in the blood and in samples taken from the patients’ colons.
Those who had colon cancer or who had it in the past were nearly 22 times as likely to have the change, they found — and they could detect it in the blood in most cases.
Now they will have to see if other patients who had the change go on to develop cancer, Feinberg said.
And if the tests hold true in larger groups of people, it may be possible to develop a quick blood test to look for colon cancer risk.