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A possible link between World Trade Center dust and prostate cancer in first responders has been found by researchers.

Exposure to dust at the New York City site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks triggered chronic inflammation in the responders’ prostates, which may have contributed to their cancer, according to the Mount Sinai Health researchers.

They noted that inflammation has long been considered an important factor in prostate cancer.

“Several years ago, I saw a first responder in his 40s who began having symptoms of prostatitis, a painful condition that involves inflammation of the prostate, soon after exposure to the World Trade Center dust,” said researcher Dr. William Oh, chief of the division of hematology and medical oncology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.

“He ultimately developed a high-grade prostate cancer several years later. It suggested to me that there might be a link between his exposure and cancer, but I knew that I would need to examine it systematically,” Oh said in a Mount Sinai news release.

The study included data from first responders and rats exposed to WTC dust. The researchers said it’s the first study to examine men who were exposed to WTC dust and later developed prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer tissues from the first responders and the rats showed immune cell increases that indicate inflammation.

The findings suggest that chronic prostate inflammation in the first responders began after exposure to the World Trade Center dust, and that the inflammation may have contributed to prostate cancer. But the study did not prove that the dust caused prostate cancer.

This study and further research into the expression of genes and pathways in other patients with environmental exposure-caused prostate inflammation could lead to clinical trials of anti-inflammatory or immune-targeted therapies, according to the researchers.

“World Trade Center responders show an overall increase in cancer incidence, and specifically of certain cancer types such as prostate cancer,” said researcher Dr. Emanuela Taioli, director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Mount Sinai.

“It is important to address the reasons why this is happening in order to prevent new cases in this aging cohort. Our findings represent the first link between exposure to World Trade Center dust and prostate cancer,” Taioli explained.

The dust samples used in the study are unique because they are the only existing samples taken on Sept. 11, 2001. All other WTC dust samples were collected after a significant storm three days after the attack.

The study was published in the June issue of Molecular Cancer Research.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on prostate cancer.

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Many men need to do a better job of looking after their health, and it only takes a few simple steps, experts say.

“It’s common for men to avoid going to the doctor until there’s a serious health concern,” said Dr. James Heckman, a primary care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Staying healthy may just be a matter of changing habits.”

Those habits start with regular doctor visits.

“Seeing your doctor regularly means that you have a baseline for important screenings,” Heckman said in a medical center news release. “This includes everything from cholesterol to cancer screenings and osteoporosis.”

Then, make sure you’re eating right. A diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables can help lower the risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer.

“For good prostate health, eat your fruits and veggies,” Dr. Aria Olumi, chief of urologic surgery at Beth Israel, said in the news release.

Don’t smoke. Along with harming your heart and lungs, smoking is linked with roughly half of all bladder cancers.

“Bladder cancer risk factors like age, gender, race and family history can’t be controlled,” Olumi said. “But quitting smoking can definitely lower your risk.”

Get enough sleep. That means at least seven hours a night.

And remember that mental health is connected to physical health. Protect it. Mental illness affects both men and women, but men may be less likely to talk about their feelings and get help.

“Mental health symptoms often appear to be physical issues — like a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches or digestive issues,” Heckman said. “Talking to a professional or a loved one about stress or other challenges can be very helpful.”

More information

The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has more on men’s health.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave its approval to Vyleesi, the second medication so far approved to help women with low sexual desire.

In a news release, the FDA said that Vyleesi (bremelanotide) is a drug that would be administered by injection prior to having sex.

It’s been specifically approved for premenopausal women with a condition known as acquired, generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

“There are women who, for no known reason, have reduced sexual desire that causes marked distress, and who can benefit from safe and effective pharmacologic treatment,” said Dr. Hylton Joffe, who directs the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s Division of Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Products.

“Today’s approval provides women with another treatment option for this condition,” Hylton said in the news release.

According to the agency, HSDD is not caused by any medical or psychiatric condition, relationship issues or drug side effects.

Instead, women with HSDD have “previously experienced no problems with sexual desire,” the FDA said. “Generalized HSDD refers to HSDD that occurs regardless of the type of sexual activity, situation or partner.”

The exact way in which Vyleesi helps stimulate sexual desire remains unclear, but it works on melanocortin receptors on cells, the FDA said.

The drug is injected under the skin of the abdomen or thigh at least 45 minutes prior to a sexual encounter, although the best timeframe for dosing could vary from user to user.

Side effects can occur, the FDA added, and include nausea and vomiting, flushing, injection site reactions and headache. Nausea was especially common, affecting 40% of users in the clinical study that led to approval.

That study involved 1,247 premenopausal women with HSDD who received Vyleesi or a placebo in one of two 24-week trials.

“In these trials, about 25% of patients treated with Vyleesi had an increase of 1.2 or more in their sexual desire score (scored on a range of 1.2 to 6.0, with higher scores indicating greater sexual desire) compared to about 17% of those who took placebo,” the FDA noted.

Still, the overall benefit was not large. “There was no difference between treatment groups in the change from the start of the study to end of the study in the number of satisfying sexual events. Vyleesi does not enhance sexual performance,” the FDA said.

And there was one other caveat: Vyleesi can hike blood pressure, so people with heart disease or high blood pressure should not take it, the FDA said.

Vyleesi should also not be taken by anyone who is also taking the drug naltrexone, used to combat opioid dependency, because Vyleesi reduces naltrexone’s effectiveness.

Vyleesi is not the first drug approved to enhance flagging libido in women. In 2015 the FDA approved Addyi (flibanserin) for the purpose, but the drug did not become widely used because it cannot be taken with alcohol and only certain certified health care providers are allowed to prescribe it.

According to CNN, Vyleesi’s maker, AMAG Pharmaceuticals, said the new drug will not be available until September, and pricing and reimbursement have yet to be determined.

One expert in female sexual health said it remains to be seen how widely Vyleesi will be used.

“Female sexual dysfunction is more complicated in some ways than male sexual dysfunction, so it’s more difficult to treat,” Dr. Nicole Cirino, co-director of the Menopause and Sexual Therapy Clinic at Oregon Health and Science University’s Center for Women’s Health, told CNN. She had no role in Vyleesi’s development.

Cirini suspects Vyleesi probably will not be the first option women with HSDD turn to, but it might prove a useful adjunct to standard psychotherapy and Addyi.

Vyleesi, like Addyi, probably won’t be overprescribed, Cirino added. When Addyi was introduced, there were concerns “that doctors would just be prescribing this medication to anybody that came in saying that they were having an issue with their libido,” she said. “And I think we have to give physicians more credit than that. In fact, that didn’t happen at all.”

Still, Vyleesi could help some women, Cirino said.

“There’s so many chemical factors that influence our libido,” she told CNN. “So you can’t discount using a chemical treatment as part of the broad approach to low libido.”

More information

There’s more on HSDD at the American Sexual Health Association.

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A face-lift for Father’s Day, anyone?

It could happen: A new report finds many more men are taking advantage of the same plastic surgeries that have long been associated with women.

The midlife decision by men to try a face-lift or other procedure has been nicknamed the “Daddy-Do-Over” — referencing the “Mommy Makeover” for women.

Whatever it’s called, “men are embracing the idea of surgery more than before,” said Dr. Alan Matarasso, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

He stressed that the average man approaching or in middle age might have different reasons for wanting a nip or a tuck, compared to his female peers.

“Obviously, men don’t go through the same physical changes that women experience during pregnancy and post-pregnancy, but their lifestyle does change, which can impact their appearance,” Matarasso said in a society news release.

“Diet and exercise patterns fluctuate, and they don’t sleep as much,” he added. “Men notice their body changes due to aging and parenting, and it starts to look completely different in their 30s and 40s. That is the point of a Daddy-Do-Over.”

In fact, according to the ASPS, more than 1 million men had cosmetic surgery in 2018, a 29% increase since 2000.

Like women, men are typically getting body contouring and facial procedures to enhance their physique and keep the dreaded “dad bod” at bay. The most popular procedure for men was rhinoplasty — a “nose job” — with 52,000 of the procedures performed on men in 2018, the ASPS said. That was followed by eyelid surgery, liposuction, breast reductions (24,000 cases) and hair transplants.

Botox injections are also popular with men, with nearly half a million procedures performed last year. Another 100,000 “filler” procedures were performed on men in 2018, the ASPS said.

One case in point is 57-year-old Scott, a restaurateur in New York City who said he couldn’t get rid of his spare tire.

“I realized I was never going to lose the weight on my own,” he said in the news release. “Plastic surgery is a personal decision, but I know guys my age who have done different cosmetic procedures. I think an open dialogue about plastic surgery is becoming more acceptable, especially for men.”

Men are increasingly getting plastic surgery to help them advance their careers and compete in the workplace, Matarasso said.

Dennis, 59, is a creative director working in the New York City fashion industry. He was lean and fit, but still struggled with fat accumulating in certain areas.

“I’ve been in fashion my entire career, and it makes me feel good when I walk in the room and I don’t feel as if I look 60 in a room of 25- to 30-year-olds,” Dennis said in the news release. “I always carried weight in my neck and chin, and my droopy eyelids made me look more tired than I actually was.”

He underwent an eye lift and chin surgery and says he’s “gained unexpected confidence from the small changes.”

Of course every surgery comes with risks, plastic surgery included, so Matarasso stressed that men consult at length with an accredited, experienced surgeon to maximize safety.

More information

For more about cosmetic surgery for men, visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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It’s not just Moms: Just ahead of Father’s Day, a new survey finds that about half of American dads say they’ve been criticized about their parenting styles.

The way they enforced discipline topped the list of things naysayers called them to task on, with two-thirds of critiques focused on that subject.

Forty-four percent of the time, the criticism came from a family member, often the other child-rearing partner, the findings showed.

“Addressing a child’s misbehavior is one of the greatest challenges of parenting, and parents aren’t always on the same page when it comes to expectations and consequences,” said survey co-director Sarah Clark, of the University of Michigan.

That could prove problematic for families, Clark said.

“Inconsistency between parents in responding to a child’s behavior can send mixed messages to the child, and result in conflict and criticism between parents,” she explained in a university news release.

The next big topic for dad shaming involved the kinds of food men gave their kids (40% of critiques).

Not paying enough attention to the children was also an issue of contention, as was the accusation that dad-child playtime could get too rough — about one-third of fathers said they’d felt judged for these two things.

Other issues raised had to do with how a dad’s parenting style impacted a child’s sleep habits, safety or overall appearance.

The new data comes from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. This analysis was drawn from data gleaned from 713 fathers of kids up to the age of 13.

There’s a fine line between well-meant parenting advice and destructive shaming, Clark said. In about half of cases, fathers said they had responded to criticism by making a change to their parenting style. But in other cases, criticisms backfired.

“While some fathers say criticism prompts them to seek more information about good parenting practices, too much disparagement may cause dads to feel demoralized about their parental role,” Clark explained.

In fact, more than one-quarter of dads surveyed said these negative judgments undermined their parental confidence, while 20% said that it discouraged them from getting more engaged with parenting. Roughly four in 10 said they thought many criticisms from partners or outsiders were largely unfair.

Clark’s advice: “Family members — especially the other parent — should be willing to acknowledge that different parenting styles are not necessarily incorrect or harmful.”

Fathers tended to rate themselves rather highly, with nine in every 10 saying that they thought dads typically did a good job at parenting. But about one in every 10 also felt that outsiders — teachers, doctors, nurses — automatically assumed dads weren’t knowledgeable about their child’s needs or behaviors.

“Some fathers say they feel that professionals who interact with their child are dismissive of their parental role,” Clark said.

That’s definitely counterproductive, she noted.

“Even subtle forms of disparagement can undercut fathers’ confidence or send the message that they are less important to their child’s well-being,” Clark said. “Professionals who work with children should avoid negative assumptions about fathers’ level of involvement or interest in parenting.”

Besides partners, grandparents were the next greatest dad critics (24%), followed by fathers’ own friends (9%).

Why do some people believe fathers need their “helpful” advice?

“In some instances, this may be a reflection of historical gender roles, where mothers are viewed as more natural caregivers, and fathers as having limited parenting capabilities that need supervision or correction. When this occurs, minor differences in parenting style can cause conflict over the ‘best’ way to parent,” Clark said.

“Cultural norms, family dynamics and prior experience with his own father can also shape a dad’s parenting style and influence the expectations of others,” she added.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more on the challenges of parenting.

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Brittle bones are often seen as a woman’s health issue, but low bone mass may be more common among middle-aged men than generally thought, a small study suggests.

The research, of 173 adults aged 35 to 50, found that men and women were equally likely to have low bone mass in the hip. It was found in 28% of men and 26% of women.

Those study participants, the researchers said, had osteopenia, or lower-than-normal bone density. In some cases, it progresses to osteoporosis — the brittle-bone disease that makes people vulnerable to fractures.

The fact that osteopenia was just as common in men came as a surprise, said researcher Allison Ford, a professor of health and exercise science at the University of Mississippi.

Full-blown osteoporosis is clearly more common in women. About one-quarter of U.S. women aged 65 and up have the condition in the hip or lower spine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That compares with about 5% of men the same age.

But, Ford said, the new findings suggest low bone density might be more common in middle-aged men than appreciated.

“Low bone mineral density and osteoporosis affect men,” she said. “They should not be overlooked.”

Ford suggested men take steps to help ensure their bones stay healthy — including eating a well-balanced diet with enough calcium, getting adequate vitamin D, and performing weight-bearing exercise.

Weight-bearing refers to activities that make the body move against gravity. Jogging, dancing, stair-climbing and walking all qualify, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

The findings were published May 28 in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The research was based on bone density scans of 173 men and women. All were recruited from the University of Mississippi or the surrounding community, and most were white.

That’s a limitation, Ford noted, because it’s not clear whether the prevalence of osteopenia would be the same in a larger, more diverse population.

Ford said the findings “shed light” on low bone density in men, but more research is needed.

According to Dr. Michael Lewiecki, a trustee with the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “There’s a general message from this study that’s useful. Men can have low bone density and develop osteoporosis, too.”

The condition typically manifests later for men. They generally have larger bones than women, and they don’t go through the rapid hormonal changes of menopause, noted Lewiecki, who also directs the New Mexico Clinical Research and Osteoporosis Center, in Albuquerque.

Men do, however, see a gradual waning in testosterone, and low testosterone is one contributor to osteoporosis in men, Lewiecki said. Heavy drinking is another risk factor for bone loss, he noted, particularly when it comes to men’s risk.

The osteoporosis foundation suggests that men aged 70 and older have their bone density screened, Lewiecki said. It’s also recommended for people who break a bone after age 50.

In addition, men should see their doctor if they’ve lost 1.5 inches or more in height, Lewiecki advised. That could be a sign of a vertebral fracture.

Lewiecki agreed that exercise is one of the keys to maintaining bone health — not only weight-bearing exercise, he said, but also muscle-strengthening and activities that challenge balance skills.

As for the “don’ts,” he said, it’s important to avoid smoking and heavy drinking.

More information

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has an overview on osteoporosis.

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For all of those men who view a mustache as a largely ornamental addition to their masculine appearance, a new study reveals it can also guard against lip cancer.

“Mustaches seem to protect the lip the same way that hair protects the scalp,” explained study author Dr. Daniel Aires. He is director of dermatology with the University of Kansas Health System. “While this makes intuitive sense, it had not been tested before.”

To do just that, Aires and his team examined 200 male patients who had already been diagnosed with a precancerous condition known as actinic keratosis on the head or face.

“Actinic keratosis is a scaly spot on the skin that can develop into a dangerous cancer called squamous cell carcinoma,” Aires explained. “Since lip skin is so thin, lip actinic keratoses can invade and become deadly faster than actinic keratoses elsewhere on the skin.”

Roughly 3 million Americans are diagnosed with actinic keratosis each year, he noted, accounting for one of every seven dermatology visits. But, “likely many more go undiagnosed and untreated, since studies estimate that more than 10% of adults have actinic keratosis,” he added.

Nearly 60 of the men in the study had a long history of sporting substantial “sheltering” mustaches, meaning mustaches that are at least 9 millimeters thick (about a third of an inch).

In the end, Aires and his colleagues determined that years of mustache-wearing ultimately translated into a 16 times lower risk for developing actinic keratosis on their lower lip, compared with their mustache-free peers. The finding held up even after accounting for other risk factors, such as family history of skin cancer, a personal history of sunburns, a smoking habit, and/or age.

The American Academy of Dermatology points out that once someone develops this cancer, their lifetime risk for recurrence goes up. And experts warn that, if left untreated, actinic keratosis can lead to squamous cell carcinoma.

This type of cancer often affects the outer layer of skin, around the lips, ears, bald scalp and shoulders. It can also affect the moist lining of the inner mouth, nose and throat. From there it can spread.

According the U.S. National Institutes of Health, actinic keratosis is the seventh most common cancer in the world with 50,000 cases in the United States each year, and often strikes men in their 50s and 60s.

So should smooth-lipped men trash their razors in favor of a hairier aesthetic?

“The patients in our study had mustaches since their teens or early 20s, so we don’t know if a later-life ‘stache will be as protective,” said Aires. “However, studies have shown that using sunscreen in later life can reduce actinic keratosis, so the same logic could apply to later-life mustaches. It may help, and it almost certainly won’t hurt,” he added.

“Of course, this assumes your significant other is OK with it,” Aires noted.

The findings will be published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

All of this “makes sense,” said Dr. Steven Wang, director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New Jersey.

“Obviously, there are a lot of variables, including the baseline skin type of the individual, how thick and big the mustache is, your genetic make-up and your family history of skin cancer,” Wang said.

“But, interestingly, I have previously looked at how good hair is in terms of protecting the scalp,” said Wang, who is also chair of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s photobiology committee. “And it turns out when someone has a lot of hair, it’s a perfect shield. It actually works very well. So when it comes to covering lip, this isn’t too much of a surprise.”

More information

To learn more about actinic keratosis, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.

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Just a few extra pounds during adolescence may translate into higher odds for heart disease in adulthood, a new study of young men suggests.

It included about 1.7 million Swedish men who began military service at ages 18 or 19 between 1969 and 2005. They were followed for up to 46 years.

During the follow-up, nearly 4,500 were diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, an uncommon heart muscle condition that can lead to heart failure. Average age at diagnosis was 45.5 years.

Men who were lean as teens (body mass index, or BMI, below 20) had a low risk of cardiomyopathy. But risk steadily rose with increased weight, even among men who were on the high end of normal BMI (22.5 to 25) as teens.

BMI is an estimate of body fat based on weight and height. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese: For example, a 5-foot-10-inch man who weighs 209 pounds has a BMI of 30.

There are several types of cardiomyopathy. In dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes weak and can’t pump blood efficiently. In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it becomes stiff and the heart can’t fill with blood properly.

Men who had a BMI of 35 and over in their teens (someone 5-foot-10 who weighs 245 or more) were eight times more likely to develop dilated cardiomyopathy than those who were lean in their teens. Researchers weren’t able to estimate the increased risk for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy because there were too few cases.

The study was published May 20 in the journal Circulation.

The findings likely apply to men worldwide, including those in the United States, study co-author Dr. Annika Rosengren said in a journal news release. She is a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

More study would be needed to learn if there are racial or ethnic differences in how weight affects cardiomyopathy risk, Rosengren said. The study only showed an association rather than a cause-and-effect link.

It’s also unclear if the findings apply to women, Rosengren said.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on cardiomyopathy.

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When men with prostate cancer have to take drugs that block the testosterone fueling their tumors, they can suffer a host of side effects that include impotence, bone loss, heart trouble and obesity.

But new research uncovers yet another possible downside to the treatment: These men may be at greater risk for dementia.

For any type of dementia, that risk increased 17%; for Alzheimer’s disease, it increased 23%, the researchers said.

Common side effects of so-called androgen-deprivation therapy include hot flashes, unstable mood, trouble sleeping, headaches, high blood sugar, allergic reactions and impotence.

“Androgen-deprivation therapy may not only cause physical changes — such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease or obesity — but may also cause changes in cognition,” said researcher Dr. Karl Tully, a research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

But Tully cautioned that this study cannot prove that such hormone therapy caused dementia, only that the two are associated.

The investigators also found that men on this type of therapy had a 10% greater risk of seeking psychiatric services.

The risk for dementia increased as the length of therapy increased, the researchers noted. Men on androgen-deprivation therapy for six months had a 25% increased risk for any kind of dementia and a 37% increased risk for Alzheimer’s, the findings showed.

Being on hormone therapy longer than six months increased the risk for dementia and using mental health services even more, Tully said.

For the study, Tully and his colleagues collected data on more than 100,400 men enrolled in Medicare. The men were diagnosed with prostate cancer between January 1992 and December 2009.

Given these findings, “physicians should be telling their patients about that risk and should probably perform regular screening,” Tully said.

One urologist, however, doesn’t think patients need to be told about this tenuous association.

“I don’t think it’s a fair discussion to have,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

In this population, the increase in dementia may not be from hormone therapy at all, Kavaler said. As people live longer, the odds of developing dementia naturally increase.

Moreover, many of these patients probably had other medical conditions that might increase their risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s, Kavaler added.

“Earlier generations were all worried about cancer — we’re worried about dementia,” she said.

In addition, patients with prostate cancer may not have a good option whether to start hormone therapy or not, she noted.

“We really don’t have a choice. Androgen-deprivation therapy is what can be offered to men with recurring or advanced prostate cancer. It’s a matter of treating a deadly disease versus the risk of developing a non-life-threatening condition,” Kavaler said.

“How do you ask somebody to choose between losing your mind or not treating their high-risk disease,” she said. “It’s a hard position to put a patient in. I wouldn’t even bring it up.”

The findings were scheduled to be presented Sunday at the American Urological Association annual meeting, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Visit the American Cancer Society for more on prostate cancer.

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(HealthDay News) — Buyer beware: When it comes to testosterone supplements, men should know a new study finds there is precious little evidence to support claims they will boost testosterone levels, sex drive, strength and overall energy.

To come to this conclusion, the researchers first broke down 50 testosterone supplements into their component parts.

The investigators then searched through a comprehensive scientific publication database for any solid proof that the supplements can do what the companies who make them say they can do.

But only 12% of the products contained any ingredient shown to provide some testosterone-related benefit in human trials. And nearly half (48%) contained ingredients that studies found could have negative impacts.

“In general, I’m not anti-supplements,” noted study author Dr. Mary Samplaski. “I have a lot of patients who take them. But the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] says very clearly that these products should not claim to treat medical conditions. And 90% of these testosterone supplements do make such claims. So I was just really curious what the scientific support was for the claims being made.”

Samplaski said, “What we found is that in the vast majority of cases there was no evidence to show that any of the ingredients in these testosterone supplements were effective in any way.”

The upshot, she said, is that “people should understand that just because there’s a sexy website with a pic of Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t mean it’s the result they should expect.”

Samplaski is director of male infertility with the Keck School of Medicine’s department of urology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

To begin their work, her team googled “testosterone booster,” and compiled a list of the first 50 supplements that came up.

About 90% claimed they would boost testosterone levels. Half claimed to improve libido, and nearly as many claimed to make men stronger. About 60% promoted building body mass, while 30% claimed to increase energy, and almost as many were touted as fat burners.

Supplements were then broken down by their ingredients, which included vitamins, minerals, folic acid, mushrooms and a variety of herbals. Ingredient amounts were also tallied, with an eye towards the FDA’s stated daily allowance and tolerable upper intake levels for each.

On average, each supplement contained seven ingredients.

Just four ingredients — fenugreek, shilajit, D-aspartic acid and vitamin D — were found to have been the subject of rigorous studies designed to track patients over time to assess their impact on testosterone levels. Of those, only the first two ingredients were shown to have a beneficial impact.

Another 10 ingredients were also linked to positive impacts on testosterone levels in a variety of animal investigations and human trials that retroactively analyzed previously collected data.

But 60% of the ingredients in question had no scientific data of any kind exploring their impact on testosterone. What’s more, many of the supplements were found to contain doses of vitamins and minerals that far exceeded recommended levels. In some cases, even tolerable upper intake levels were exceeded, including zinc levels found in two supplements.

The findings were scheduled to be presented Saturday at the American Urological Association annual meeting, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

According to Cambridge Health Alliance general internist Dr. Pieter Cohen, the problem is that “supplements are regulated in a very different way than over-the-counter medications and prescription medications, which need to have strong clinical evidence before they can be advertised for use in humans.”

And that means “there is great leeway in advertising supplements, which leads to many unsupported claims appearing on supplement labels,” he said.

“Even worse, when clinical trials have demonstrated that a supplement does not work, the companies can still continue to make the same unsupported claims. This has led to brisk sales of supplements even after they were proven to be ineffective,” Cohen added.

“What’s also concerning is that sometimes supplements — such as those promoted for men’s health — might be formulated to include prescription-strength drugs,” which can pose a risk for patients struggling with conditions such as high blood pressure or anxiety, he explained.

Cohen’s advice: Avoid taking any supplement that purports to have “immediate effects on the human body.”

More information

To learn more about testosterone supplements and risks, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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