testabol-depot-200Is testosterone the magic elixir of youth for aging men?  Judging by the number of ads on the Internet for supplements, or even from the number of scientific studies assessing the usefulness of testosterone supplements for everything from muscle development to helping improve symptoms of congestive heart failure, lots of guys think the answer is yes.  But what really constitutes ‘low testosterone’ and how is this related to aging in men?  In this issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a study attempts to provide some answers: Identification of Late-Onset Hypogonadism in Middle-Aged and Elderly Men.

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Is body checking absolutely fundamental to ice hockey? No doubt ice hockey fans would roar a resounding yes! but a study in this week's JAMA illustrates just how dangerous body checking is for neophyte hockey players in Canada.

Turns out Canada has some fascinating social experiments percolating, and this is one of them: in the province Alberta, body checking is allowed among PeeWee hockey players. Those are players 11-12 years old. In Quebec province, this practice is forbidden. Researchers crunched data from the top 60% of divisions of play for the 2007-2008 ice hockey season for both leagues, representing close to 2200 players.

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two_dentures_3_copy_182130031_stdAs I opine in this week's podcast, it seems curious to me that so many of our body parts are treated separately, as though feet, backs, and teeth were distinct entities. Indeed, I've often thought it would be great to simply drop my teeth off at the dentist and come back later to retrieve them but the fact is, they're attached to my jaw, and therefore to me and the rest of my body. Further evidence of their inextricable link emerges in a study in BMJ: Toothbrushing, inflammation, and risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Metformin_500mg_TabletsI'm a big fan of the tried and true when it comes to medications and procedures. After tens of thousands or even better, hundreds of thousands of people have run the gauntlet, I too, am much more willing to give things a try. Call me a coward, but I get a big lift from following the crowd in this regard. So if I had type 2 diabetes I would be okay with taking metformin (after trying weight loss and dietary changes, of course). But now a study in the current issue of the British Medical Journal raises a red flag about metformin use: it may cause vitamin B12 deficiency.
 
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babyandparents Maternal depression is a common condition following childbirth, and its negative consequences for all concerned have been studied extensively. Now it turns out that dads, too, suffer a high rate of depression following the birth of a child, a study in the current issue of JAMA reports.

Depression in both parents can develop prior to the birth of the child, but this study reports it most often happens afterward, when the baby is three to six months old. Makes a lot of sense to me! I remember those days without regret that they are over. I would add, especially after the birth of my first child, that it was so much more life-altering than I had any idea about. Add to that sleep deprivation, worry about parenting skills or their lack, mountains of laundry, frequent pediatrician visits, and it's no wonder depression ensues. And my children were healthy and my deliveries uncomplicated. How much worse for those who don't have such good fortune.

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stomach_upsetProton pump inhibitors are a very popular form of antacid medication usually abbreviated PPIs. They're available in both prescription and over the counter (OTC) strengths, and the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine states their prescription-only sales total almost $14 billion per year. Only the manufacturers know what the OTC sales are worth, but what's emerging in this issue of Archives is a rather concerning picture of the multitude of side effects related to use of PPIs.

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stomachacheBefore launching into this week's blog on celiac disease, Rick and I would like to invite you to view our YouTube. And now, on to the topic at hand:

Lots of people complain of gastrointestinal symptoms. In point of fact, this week's meta-analysis on diagnosing celiac disease in JAMA states that between 35 and 40 individuals out of every 1000 who visit their primary care doctor do so because of abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, or other chronic symptoms, and these can adversely impact quality of life.

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old-man-drivingOlder drivers can imperil all of us as their driving skills decline, often so incrementally it may be unapparent until a problem occurs, and this risk increases if cognitive impairment is present. The Journal of the American Medical Association took a look at this issue this week, in an article directed toward physicians entitled 'The Older Driver With Cognitive Impairment."

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liceIn our very open society, few topics remain unmentionable. But bring up head lice and watch the room clear. The mere thought of creepy crawlies invading one's hair is enough to make most people squirm, and head lice also enjoy an association with uncleanliness and sub par personal hygiene. To make matters worse, the little beasties can be very difficult to eradicate. Kudos then, to the New England Journal of Medicine, for wading into this distasteful morass to offer help. Oral ivermectin versus malathion lotion for difficult to treat head lice examines the most effective way to get rid of the buggers when they are loath to go.

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aaaThe aorta is the body's biggest blood vessel. It arises from the heart, curves upward, then descends through the chest cavity, crossing the diaphragm into the abdomen, where it is referred to as the 'abdominal aorta.' And it is here that this giant and vital pipeline is most likely to develop a weakening or ballooning in its wall called an aneurysm. This condition is known as 'abdominal aortic aneurysm' or 'AAA' for those in the know.

AAA is an increasing problem, especially for older men. We could think of it as a success story since the majority of people have to live long enough to develop the condition, but the big danger is that the aneurysm will rupture, most likely resulting in sudden death. The US Surgeon General has recently mounted a public education campaign to focus awareness on AAA since cases are increasing in that fastest-growing segment of our population: those aged 80 and older.

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