Medical

Cancer-Causing HPV Found in 20 Percent of U.S. Teens and Adults

Human Papilloma Viruses (HPV) that cause cancers of the mouth and sexual organs are the most common sexually-transmitted diseases in the United States today, infecting 20 percent of people under age 60 (CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, April 6, 2017). The Communicable Disease Center estimates that these cancer-causing viruses infect 80 million Americans, with more than 14 million of the new infections occuring among teenagers. They found that almost 31,000 new cases of cancer each year from 2008 to 2012 were attributable to HPV and that most could be prevented with immunization.

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Power Napping Delivers Myriad Benefits

Power napping for an hour can help you to learn, remember and interpret more efficiently. Try to nap before having an important interview, writing a report or learning new concepts. Many employers such as Google, Uber, Zappos and PricewaterhouseCoopers provide facilities for their employees to nap during their workdays. Napping also helps athletes to recover faster after intense workouts. Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon, naps regularly.

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How Exercise Helps Prevent Heart Attacks

Two recent breakthrough studies give the best explanation yet of how exercise helps to prevent heart attacks. Competitive older endurance athletes may have more plaques in their arteries than non-exercisers, but they have the type of plaques that are far less likely to break off and cause heart attacks (Circulation, April 27, 2017;136:138-148; May 2, 2017;136:126-137). The studies showed that competitive master athletes have:

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No Amount of Overweight is Healthful

Earlier this month, researchers at Boston University and Harvard reviewed three studies following more than 225,000 adults over age 50, for eight to 20 years, and showed that being even slightly overweight can increase your risk of dying by 6 percent, and in those who are obese, by a whopping 73 percent (Annals of Internal Medicine, April 3, 2017). The main causes of death are heart and lung disease and cancers, and the more overweight you are, the greater your chance of dying prematurely.

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Competitive Athletes and Doping

An important article in the May 19, 2017 New York Times discusses the latest accusations that some of America's top athletes are using supplements, both legal and illegal, in the hope that they will improve athletic performance. I will present a brief review of some of the supplements that the accused U.S. athletes are taking and comment on their effectiveness or worthlessness, side effects and potential dangers to their health. 

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Blood Pressure During and After Exercise

Editor's Note:  Dr. Mirkin's article today began as a response to one of our Premium MembersGreg C. wrote us: "I ride about 4,500-5,500 miles a year. This is the first year I've been monitoring my blood pressure after riding and noticed the systolic drops significantly after my rides. I typically run 110-120 over 70-80, but after rides it's sometimes barely above 95 over 60-70. Is this normal, or something to be concerned about?" After the reassuring response to Greg, Dr. Mirkin continued to write his typically thorough, educational piece that we have come to expect and enjoy. 

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Latest on Testosterone for Older Men

Earlier this month, medical journals reported the largest trials ever to examine the benefits and harms of taking testosterone for men over 65 with low blood levels of testosterone (less than 275 ng/dL). At 12 study sites across the country, a total of 790 participants were given testosterone gel or a placebo applied daily to the skin. Most of these men had low testosterone due to aging, not due to damage to the testicles or brain where testosterone levels are controlled. Over a year, investigators measured the effects of testosterone on: 

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Don’t Get Baked In The Summer

I raced the Furnace Creek 508 through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley in 1989 and 1993. I set a course record and won both times. I raced for over 30 continuous hours in each of those two races. The 508-mile race, with 35,000 feet of climbing, is a qualifier for the Race Across AMerica. I wasn’t the fastest rider—many would have beaten me in a 40-km time trial. I wasn’t the lightest rider, nor was I the best climber. But I was the smartest about riding in the heat! Here’s what I learned about racing in the heat, which I’ve "road tested" as a coach working with ordinary roadies over the years since.

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What Causes Belly Cramps in Cyclists vs. Runners

When it comes to belly cramps, cyclists are different from runners. The most common cause of belly camps in a cyclist is stool in the colon. In runners, it is a stretching of the ligaments from the diaphragm that holds up the liver. Fit athletes rarely suffer discomfort from small amounts of food in the stomach. 

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Slowing Loss of Muscle and Bone Strength with Aging

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic compared high-intensity aerobic interval training, resistance training and combined training in a group of 72 men and women aged 65-80 (Cell Metabolism, Mar 10, 2017). All three training types reduced body fat, increased sensitivity to insulin to help control blood sugar levels and increased the amount of protein in muscles. However, they showed that only high-intensity aerobic training led to improvement in two of the most important markers of the aging processes: the maximum ability to take in and use oxygen (VO2 max), and mitochondrial function in muscles. 

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Irregular Heartbeats in Older Athletes and Exercisers

Most researchers believe that exercise helps to strengthen the heart and protect it from disease, but about twenty years ago, doctors noted that some men over 80 who competed in cross country ski races longer than 100 kilometers (60 miles) were at increased risk for an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (BMJ. 1998 Jun 13; 316(7147): 1784–1785). Extensive studies have since confirmed this increased incidence of atrial fibrillation in healthy older world-class endurance athletes (Scan J Med & Sci in Sports. Nov 21, 2013;24(4):). However, most of these men are healthy athletes and have no obvious problems with their hearts.

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NSAIDs May Increase Heart Attack Risk

Millions of people take over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) pain medicines when they have a headache, fever, chills, joint pain or various other aches and pains. A recent study shows that NSAIDs are associated with increased risk for heart attacks (British Medical Journal, May 9, 2017). The increased risk begins within the first week to month a person starts taking them. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Zipsor, Zorvolex), celecoxib (Celebrex), etodolac (Lodine-discontinued) and other drugs.

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