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The effects of sex on pharmacodynamics…
Ask almost anyone and they will readily affirm that vast differences between men and women exist. While these differences are well known and readily visible in the social sphere, they are less visible, but still at play, in the world of medicine.
For some time the medical profession has been aware that men and women respond differently to drug therapies. Often what proves efficacious in the male population proves ineffective in the female population. The question has always been: WHY? While the factors responsible have not been fully identified, scientists have arrived at a partial answer.
A recent summary of the existing research has examined the contributing factors, and has determined that body mass, plasma volume, gastric emptying time, plasma protein levels, cytochrome P450 activity, drug transporter function, hormone profile and excretion activity all contribute to the differences between men and women when it comes to drug therapies.
What this means for bodybuilders is clear: A supplements efficacy will be partially determined by sex, so, when purchasing a supplement, the athlete should be cognizant of their sex, and adjust their expectations accordingly. What works great for men may not work so well for women. The reverse can also be true.
Source: Annu. Rev. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 2004. 44:499-523.
Prostate cancer: good news…
For some time prostate cancer has been the leading fatal cancer in men. Because of its prevalence, prostate cancer has gained national attention. Thankfully so too have the options to treat it. After years of hit-and-miss medical care, men are finally receiving proper treatment as more doctors become educated on this vital health issue.
While some still doubt the importance of prostate cancer treatment, recent studies are beginning to show that doctors education, combined with effective prevention and treatment, are succeeding in lowering rates in industrialized nations.
This does not mean, however, that men in general, and bodybuilders in particular, can relax their vigilance. For bodybuilders, prostate health is crucially important. The prostate, along with the testes, is part of the endocrine system, and is an anabolic hormone manufacturing site.
Maintaining high levels of anabolic hormones is essential for building muscle tissue, and increasing muscle mass and muscular density. Thus prostate health should be of concern to every serious athlete.
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Cancer and the environment…
It's a common belief that everything will cause cancer. While it is not statistically true that everything causes cancer, and while there are problems with claiming causation, it is pretty sound to claim that many things, through oxidative stress, have the capacity to contribute to the disease process. Increased pollution levels are certainly known to impact physical health.
A recent study examined the contribution of environmental factors on cancer rates and found that exposure to environmental toxins, specifically toxins like radon, bromine, asbestos and benzene were positively correlated with an increase in cancer rates.
Bodybuilders and athletes should pay careful attention to their surroundings, drinking water and the quality of air they breathe. If possible, avoid sources of these contaminants. If impossible, supplement with a quality multivitamin and glutamine, to minimize the damage of free radicals.
Source: British Medical Bulletin 2003; 68:71-94.
Folate intake and breast cancer…
Breast cancer is a terrible disease that claims many lives. At particular risk for this ravaging condition are women, and an estimated 30,000 die each year.
Not surprisingly, in addition to early detection methods and aggressive drug therapies, scientists are now examining the role of diet in the management and prevention of this disease.
A study by researchers in Minnesota had 33,552 women complete a questionnaire on nutritional habits and alcohol intake. Over the 14 year time frame of the study, 1823 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed.
The researchers found that in women with a family history of breast cancer, high folate intake and no alcohol consumption was correlated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer. These results were contrasted by women with a family history of breast cancer, high folate intake, but who also consumed alcohol. In these women, no noticeable reduction in breast cancer risk was noticed in the presence of alcohol consumption.
For women athletes with a family history of breast cancer, high folate intake should be a priority and alcohol consumption should be minimized.
Plastic surgery and body image…
Million of North Americans every year choose to undergo elective plastic surgery. From liposuction to breast augmentation, to facelifts to botox injections, the cosmetic surgery profession is a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
Turkish psychiatrists conducted a study on self esteem, body image and eating attitudes as they relate to plastic surgery habits. They interviewed 98 patients, and discovered that plastic surgery did, in fact, increase the self-esteem of the individuals, but that even in patients who did not have body image disorders prior to the surgery, after the surgery these individuals reflected body disorders in their eating habits.
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This suggests that cosmetic surgery may induce eating and body disorders in individuals who are susceptible to them. More research is needed to reach this conclusion.
Source: Aesth. Plast. Surg. 27:345-348, 2003.
Tryptophan and weight loss…
Tryptophan is an amino acid, and a precursor to 5-HT, or serotonin. Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter, responsible for mood and cognition functioning. But aside from being a serotonin precursor, tryptophan may have another use: weight loss.
A study by researchers in the Netherlands examined the effects of tryptophan on gastric emptying. They found that a depletion in this amino acid led to a decrease in the gastric emptying rates of the studies 22 female participants.
A decrease in the gastric emptying rate can make food hang around in the stomach for longer periods of time. When this happens food has a greater chance of being stored as fat.
For athletes it is important to ensure that no deficiencies exist. Consuming high-quality, complete, proteins will minimize the chances of deficiency. For persons looking to lose body fat, eating foods high in fiber and supplementing with tryptophan may prove efficacious.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition (2004), 91, 351-355.
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