Coffee could literally be a lifesaver

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November 18th, 2015

Throughout the ages, coffee has been called a virtue and a vice for our health. The latest study comes down in favor of virtue: It says that drinking coffee, whether regular or decaf, could reduce the risk of death.

Researchers started with data from surveys of adults in the United States that asked how much coffee they consumed, as well as other foods and drinks, and then they looked at their rates of death and disease over the following two decades.

The study was large, including more than 200,000 women and 50,000 men.

At first, researchers did not see an obvious relationship between coffee consumption and death rates. Study participants who drank between less than a cup of coffee and three cups a day had 5% to 9% lower risk of dying than those who drank no coffee. Those who drank more than three cups a day did not see any benefit. The finding was murky, like previous studies, some of which suggested a benefit and some did not.

But when the researchers looked at coffee consumption only among people who said they never smoked, the relationship became clearer: Those who drank between less than a cup of coffee and three cups a day had 6% to 8% lower risk of dying than noncoffee drinkers. Those who drank three to five cups and more than five cups had 15% and 12% lower death rates.

“The lower risk of mortality is consistent with our hypothesis that coffee consumption could be good for you (because) we have published papers showing that coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes and (heart) disease,” said Ming Ding, a doctoral student in the Harvard School of Public Health department of nutrition. Ding is the lead author of the study, which was published on Monday in the journal Circulation.

It might have been hard to see the link between coffee consumption and lower death rates because coffee and smoking often go hand-in-hand, and any benefits associated with the first could have been canceled out by the second. Although the study participants were asked about smoking, there might have been a tendency, especially among heavy smokers, to underestimate the average number of cigarettes they smoked per day, Ding said.

 What’s behind the lower death rate?

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 It’s possible that people who drink a lot of java have healthier diets overall and drink less soda, which has been linked to higher rates of death and heart disease, or that they have healthier diets overall.

But that’s probably not what links coffee to lower death rates — researchers took into account the health benefits of drinking less soda and eating well. They also took into account the fact that coffee drinkers were more likely to have vices such as drinking alcohol and eating red meat.

At least some of the health benefits associated with coffee consumption are probably a direct result of the ingredients in coffee, Ding said. It contains chemicals such as lignans and chlorogenic acid that could reduce inflammation and help control blood sugar, both of which could help reduce the risk of heart disease.

In keeping with this possibility, Ding and her colleagues found that coffee drinkers were about 10% less likely to die of heart disease. They were also between 9% and 37% less likely to die of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia.

The researchers also found that study participants who drank at least a cup of coffee a day had between 20% and 36% lower rates of suicide, although those who drank less than a cup had 36% higher rates.

Several other studies have hinted at an association between coffee consumption and lower suicide rates, but it was a bit unexpected to see, Ding said. It is not clear whether chemicals in coffee have a direct effect on mental health or whether people who drink a lot of coffee have higher rates of employment or certain lifestyles that are associated with lower suicide rates, she added.

Although previous studies have suggested that drinking coffee could protect against cancers such as prostate and liver, the current study did not find lower rates of cancer deaths among java drinkers.

However, there may not have been a large enough number of deaths because of specific cancers, such as liver cancer, to be able to see a difference between coffee drinkers and nondrinkers, Ding said.

By Carina Storrs, Special to CNN

If You Have ED You May Have Diabetes

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November 18th, 2015

Lots of men with erectile dysfunction ignore the issue. Being a blow to their ego, they cannot accept their predicament and so operate in denial for some time. The problem is ED is often a symptom of a more serious condition. A new analysis published in the Annals of Family Medicine, finds that those with ED are at twice the risk of having undiagnosed diabetes. Previous studies have found that ED is an early indicator of heart disease. Cardiologists call it the “canary in the coal mine.” But no one has until now considered it an early indicator of diabetes. Canadian researchers from several universities worked together to complete the analysis. They scoured the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and looked at the years 2001–2004. This is a health survey of the noninstitutionalized U.S. population, taken every two years. 4,519 men age 20 and older answered the survey. Researchers examined their data noting the relationship between erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

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“How would you describe your ability to get and keep an erection adequate for satisfactory intercourse?” was the question the survey asked. For those men who answered “never able” or “sometimes able” researchers examined their fasting glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure measurements. Scientists then analyzed this data along with the men’s ages to determine the likelihood of the respondents having cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Researchers found a strong correlation between ED and undiagnosed diabetes. Around 45% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. But 15% of cases go undiagnosed. According to the aforementioned study, for men between the ages of 40 and 59, those without ED have a one in 50 chance of developing diabetes. But for those with ED, the risk is one in 10. If you are experiencing ED, it is likely your body is trying to tell you something. Listen to it. The quicker one gets treatment the better off you are in the long run. Any man experiencing ED should talk to a doctor or urologist right away.

New Prostate Cancer Procedure to be Approved by the FDA

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November 18th, 2015

Imagine a surgeon using the power of sound as a scalpel, cutting away cancer-ridden tissue with precision while leaving healthy tissue alone. That may soon be a reality as a new treatment for this male-oriented cancer is weeks away be approved by the FDA. The technique is called high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). Nicknamed the “ultrasound scalpel,” the technique lots of advantages over other procedures. It is non-surgical, outpatient, and has a low-risk of side effects. Prostate cancer is usually caught early today. When it is localized, meaning just a tumor inside the gland, clinicians often suggest active surveillance or watching it closely to see if it gets bigger. That is because radiation or surgery—the most common techniques, can damage other tissue such as the nerves that cause erections or urinary or bowel continence. Since the side effects seriously hamper a man’s quality of life, these options are held off until the cancer turns aggressive, meaning it grows beyond the gland itself and threatens other tissues.

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The HIFU technique is meant to be able to take out prostate tumors in their early stages. Due to the pinpoint accuracy of this technology, clinicians can take out the cancer while localized, leaving healthy tissue alone safeguarding nerves and with them, the patient’s quality of life. HIFU preserves these nerves with 80% accuracy, as opposed to 40-50% with surgery or radiation. There are other advantages. Rather than a six to eight week recovery time required with other therapies, after HIFU men can return to normal activities in just a few days. All men over 40 years of age should talk to their doctor or an urologist about being screened for prostate cancer. Men over 50 and those at high risk such as African-Americans, or those who have a family history of the disease should be periodically screened. Be sure and discuss it with your physician or specialist should you fall within these guidelines. They may even suggest HIFU.

Do You Have What it Takes to Satisfy Your Partner?

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November 18th, 2015

What is the ideal penis size? That is a difficult question to answer. It all depends on who your partner is. Most men assume seven inches to be ideal in terms of penile dimensions. Perhaps the viewing of pornography has given them this impression. But these films are completely staged and those actors are selected for their mammoth size. We have a cultural expectation that bigger is better. So the directors of those films select men who are enormous, which solidifies our belief that a larger penis is actually of higher value. This is a life-reflects-art-reflects-life scenario. But according to a study published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity, in real life women prefer a penis within the average range. A six inch penis was considered ideal by female participants in that study. According to their findings, women prefer average over large. Los Angeles sex therapist Brandy Engler, Psy.D said that it is men who prefer a larger penis, not women. According to her, it is more about status than sex. Penis size is how men size each other up.

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For women, an enormous penis is often painful. Penetration at certain depths can cause the tip to slam into the cervix, which can be quite painful. But for men, preoccupation with size often makes them oblivious to these concerns. Penile inadequacy is a common psychological condition among men in our society. But it does not have to be. The vast majority are average in size. There is such a thing as a small penis, but it is very rare. Rarer still is the micropenis. If one believes that he does not have sufficient length or girth, avoid supplements or devices that make big promises. Chances are they will fail to deliver. These are not regulated by any controlling agency, and have been found to be at best ineffective and at worst dangerous. Men feeling inadequate should see a doctor or urologist, and get checked out. Discuss the matter at length with a medical professional. But sex experts agree that the vast majority of men have the equipment it takes to please their partner. What is really important is approach and technique.