This is the first article in our series on men’s hidden health conditions. Read today’s article on postnatal depression in men.
Men can expect to die approximately five years sooner than women, and men are more likely to die as a result of unintentional injury and suicide relative to women.
These differences are not well explained by physiological differences between men and women. One possible explanation is that men are more reluctant to go to the doctor – and less likely to be honest once they get there.
We have a cultural script about masculinity that tells men they need to be tough, brave, strong and self-reliant. It’s exemplified in phrases like “be a man” and “man up”. Men learn from an early age if they don’t act in this tough, masculine way they lose their status and respect as men.
There’s a lot of literature linking masculinity to health issues in men.
Our recent study found men who buy into the traditional cultural script about masculinity, and believe they must be brave and self-reliant in order to be respected, had...
This is part of our series on hidden or stigmatised health conditions in men. Read the other articles in the series here.
Klinefelter’s syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects approximately one in 450 males. Each cell in the human body has 23 pairs of chromosomes. The sex chromosomes in a female are XX, and XY in men. Typically, men have 46 chromosomes with an arrangement of 46XY, while those with Klinefelter’s syndrome have a 47XXY arrangement.
The chromosomal arrangement in someone with Klinefelter’s. from www.shutterstock.com
Klinefelter’s syndrome is not commonly diagnosed, with only four in 10 men diagnosed after birth and 10% diagnosed pre-puberty. Klinefelter’s syndrome is not typically diagnosed at birth, although physical characteristics may include a small penis and undescended testicles.
Klinefelter’s syndrome is the most common form of hypogonadism, where men are unable to produce sperm or sufficient levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone. The low levels of testosterone result in the underdevelopment of typical male...
The most common position of our spines throughout most of the day is a rounded or hunched one. Modern activities, such as using a smartphone, tablet or laptop, cause us to bend our neck and upper back.
If you don’t change your activity and move in a different way, the stiffness can build, making it harder to straighten your spine. This can contribute to developing a hunched back.
Hunchback Or Hunched Back?
A hunchback – medically termed kyphosis or hyperkyphosis in the extreme – is an abnormal forward curvature in the upper back.
There are many types, such as the severe form of an inherited bone disease called Scheuermann’s. This is likely what Quasimodo – or the Hunchback of Notre Dame – would have suffered from. Around 0.4% to 8% of the population are thought to suffer from Scheuermann’s disease.
The most common form, though, is a postural hunchback that commonly occurs in older age due to long-term effects of posture and gravity on the spine. It looks like a rounded curve of the upper back, near the...
I taught myself about orphanages 12 years ago, not actually because of my work as a human biologist but because of my daughter. She was born in 2004 and her first 14 months of life were spent in an orphanage in China.
I am well acquainted with the vast body of research that shows the physical and psychological harms of deprived environments. Orphanages can arguably be placed under this category along with other places such as refugee camps and some hospitals where children lack close contact and attention. Deprivation comes in many shapes and forms: lack of food, diseases, maltreatment, and child abuse are some of the harms that come to mind. However, I would argue that deprivation of love can be just as deadly.
When I started researching orphanages and child health I read the classic works of paediatrician Harry Bakwin, psychologist John Bowlby and psychiatrist Harry Edelston. At the beginning of the 20th century, in the US and the UK, the death rates among infants placed in orphanages, nurseries, and foundling hospitals...
Expert Committee Finds Genetically Engineered Crops Are As Safe To Eat As Conventionally Bred Plants
An expert committee of scientists has released its conclusion of a comprehensive analysis looking into the safety of genetically engineered (GE) foods. It found that there doesn’t seem to be any difference between them and conventionally bred crops, and that genetically modified organisms pose no greater threat to the environment, either.
The experts note that there are difficulties in establishing long term trends, but that the only immediate risk posed by the food stuffs related to major pests developing resistance to the genetically engineered crops. They also found that there was no significant increase in productivity from GE crops.
They found that modern advances in genetic engineering are blurring the once clear lines that distinguished between GE and conventionally bred organisms. With the development of new techniques, such as the precision gene editing procedure of CRISPR, there is expected to be an explosion over the coming years in terms of new genetically engineered crops entering the market, and as it differs to older,...
For up to 9,000 years, humans have been reaping the spiritual, psychological, and recreational benefits of psilocybin mushrooms. But for years, exploring its possibilities within the world of medicine has been hampered by tight legal regulations and – no doubt – its association with countercultures. However, a pioneering study in the U.K. has boasted promising results in using the psychedelic drug to treat depression.
The trial at Imperial College London gave 12 people psilocybin, the active component in “magic mushrooms.” These six men and six women had all been diagnosed with moderate or severe depression for a significant amount of time – an average of 17.8 years – and had previously undertaken unsuccessful attempts at other treatments.
The study, recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry, showed that all the patients experienced a notable improvement in their symptoms within three weeks of taking the psychedelic trip. Three months on, five patients were in complete remission, reporting no signs or symptoms of depression.
This stands in comparison to the 20 percent remission rate of people...
It is not news that light is usually painful to migraine sufferers. According to new research, however, a narrow range of wavelengths can actually ease the pain.
Light-induced pain, dubbed photophobia, is associated with 80 percent of migraine attacks. The need to lock oneself away in a dark room prevents people with migraines from participating fully in life, sometimes for days on end. “It is their inability to endure light that most often disables them," said Harvard Professor Rami Burstein in a statement.
Previous research found that blind migraine patients are sensitive to blue light, but immune to the effects of other colors, inspiring Burstein to study how different colors affect sighted migraine sufferers. He tested this by exposing 69 brave patients to different colored light and asking them to rate the intensity of their headache.
Burstein found that light at both ends of the spectrum was problematic, with 80 percent of people in the trial reporting increased pain when exposed to either red or blue light. The brighter the...
If you’re baking fish, roasting vegetables or preparing a piece of meat for dinner tonight, chances are that you’ll wrap your food in aluminium foil. What you may not realise is that some of the foil will leach into your meal – and this could be bad for your health.
Research that I conducted with a group of colleagues has explored the use of aluminium for cooking and preparing food. Aluminium doesn’t just appear in foil: it is the most popular cookware material used by people in developing countries. Pots and pans are lined with it and it is found in some kitchen utensils like large serving spoons. Copper used to fulfil this role, but over time it’s been replaced by aluminium because it is cheaper to mass produce and easier to clean.
But while cooking your food in aluminium pots or pans isn’t a bad thing, placing it in foil and putting it in the oven is problematic. This is especially true with acidic or spicy food that’s prepared at high temperatures.
Aluminium and health
Human bodies can excrete small amounts of aluminium very efficiently. This means that minimal...
Tuberculosis ranks alongside HIV/AIDS as a leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million people died from TB in 2014. The challenges in tackling the disease include the facts that people are tested too late and that the turnaround for most tests is long. To remedy this a point-of-care rapid diagnostic test for TB has been developed by a multinational team of scientists led by researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. One of its co-inventors, Professor Gerhard Walzl, spoke to The Conversation Africa’s health and medicine editor Candice Bailey.
How have TB tests been done up until now and what are the challenges?
There are three main tests that are currently in use.
A culture test – the most sensitive – requires people to produce a sputum sample that is sent to a centralised laboratory where a culture test is done. A positive result shows up after ten days. A confirmed negative result takes up to 42 days.
The problem with this test is that it is only available in centralised laboratories, which means patients must make several trips to a hospital or health...
The results of a clinical trial into the effectiveness of a new immunotherapy drug for a deadly form of skin cancer are set to be presented at an upcoming conference, with researchers hailing the study as “a step forward” in the quest to overcome the affliction.
Melanoma is a condition whereby the skin’s pigment-producing cells – called melanocytes – become cancerous. Often spreading to other parts of the body, the disease typically has a very low survival rate. According to Caroline Robert, who led the study, prior to 2011 the average melanoma sufferer lived for less than one year.
The difficulty in treating the disease owes to the fact that cancer is simply a mass of malfunctioning body cells, rather than an external pathogen. Because the body’s immune system contains a number of mechanisms that prevent it from destroying its own cells – ensuring it only targets alien invaders – it does not attack these cancerous cells.
For example, a protein called programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) is found on the surface of white blood...
A tool to support public health decisions on Zika virus predicts most planned interventions to be cost-effective
“I’m vegetarian.” “I’m vegan.” These statements typically will be met with a range of reactions, varying from bafflement to praise. But what makes people adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet? How are vegetarians and vegans viewed by the rest of society? And why don’t more people become vegetarian?
The ethics of eating
About 12% of the UK’s population is vegetarian or vegan. Many people adopt a vegetarian diet for health reasons, yet those that do appear to be less committed to their diet than those who reject meat for ethical reasons. So what is it about being ethically motivated that supports stronger commitments?
You often hear that people who shun meat for ethical reasons possess a greater capacity for empathy than those who don’t. Indeed, there is some evidence that ethically-motivated vegetarians and vegans score higher than omnivores on standard measures of empathy (for example, the empathy quotient).
Ethically-minded vegetarians and vegans also seem to have an expansive “circle of moral concern”, meaning that they think that many animals, including farm animals, deserve...
Drinking cherry concentrate can lower systolic blood pressure for up to three hours, our latest study found. If tart Montmorency cherry concentrate was a drug, it would probably get FDA approval.
Tart Montmorency cherries are rich in a number of plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In cell and animal models, cherry extracts have been shown to have a range of cardiovascular health effects.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the biggest killer, globally. In Europe, CVD is the leading cause of death in adults and is responsible for nearly half (48%) of all deaths. And in the US, 25% of deaths are attributed to CVD – that’s about 610,000 premature deaths each year. Raised blood pressure is the greatest risk factor for cardiovascular disease and even small reductions in blood pressure can have a big impact on mortality rates.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. Systolic blood pressure (the top number) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts, and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats...
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