Episode 11: Men's Health and Microplastics

Episode 11: Men's Health and Microplastics

June 14, 2019

Current health trend

A Study by the Environmental Science & Technology: Americans eat, drink and breathe in an estimated 74,000 and 121,000 microplastics each year depending on their age and gender. One of the sources of microplastics is bottled water and the shedding of particles from food and water containers during packaging.

Those who only drink bottled water vs tap water can ingest an additional 90,000 particles each year, the study found.

The health effects of ingesting these microplastics remain unclear, but some pieces are tiny enough to enter human tissues, where they could cause immune reactions or release toxic substances, according to researchers.

Microplastics have been studied in aquatic environments and their toxicity is clear. Toxicity in fish are as follows:

  • Endocrine system disruption estrogenic/antiandrogenic
  • Immune system stress
  • Gills: Obstruction adhesion
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Intestine obstruction adhesion damage
  • Liver toxicity from bioaccumulation
  • Muscle Toxicity from bioaccumulation

Scientists have found microplastics in 114 aquatic species, and more than half of those end up on our dinner plates. Now they are trying to determine what that means for human health.

What effects do microplastics have on our health?

Main issues for men

  1. Testosterone
  2. Prostate issues and skin
  3. Heart disease
  4. Liver disease
  5. Suicide
  6. Diabetes  

As men, we are the backbone of society. You hear a lot about cardiac disease and cancers and how they destroy people mentally and physically. We put a lot of stress on female health and breast cancer awareness month. I feel that men’s health isn't talked about very much. Its because men don't like to address issues of vulnerability and that's understandable. Most men are the providers in families and they don't want to be seen as weak or unable to provide. That is why many times illnesses and disease go undiagnosed and untreated until it is too late or until a life-altering situation happens, like a heart attack. We have seen a change in modern medicine, men are becoming more open about health issues and acknowledging them sooner. That is very important to longevity and increased mental and physical health. When you explain to a man that by being open and going to see a doctor they can live longer and healthier they are more open to getting checked out. Sometimes you just have to light a fire under our ass.

It's June and Men’s health week.

These are the common issues that men face today

Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that stimulates the development of male secondary sexual characteristics and is mainly produced in the testes. In men it regulates sex drive, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, strength, sperm, and the production of red blood cells. Testosterone is a big deal for every male!

Testosterone has been the issue for the aging male. After the age of 30 testosterone begins to decrease. About 40% of men aged 45 or older have low testosterone. Unfortunately, testosterone doesn’t always wait until your 30 to start to decrease, some men have been suffering from low testosterone most of their life.

Signs and symptoms:

Low sex drive: Everyone has their time and place. The issue is when there is never a time and a place. As men get older some may experience a natural small decline in libido. The issue is when its a drastic drop is the desire to have sex. Another sign that accompanies low testosterone is a decrease in the volume of semen. If you notice fewer sailors there might be an issue.

Alopecia: I don’t think any man ever wanted to go bald. Unfortunately balding has a lot more to do with genetics and the aging process, however, men with low testosterone also experience blading. Early onset balding also has to do with genetics and testosterone.

Fatigue, mood, and memory:  Men with low T often report feeling overly tired with a decrease in energy without and drastic increase in workload. If it’s hard for you to get motivated or you feel tired all the time you may want to get your T levels checked. Since physiological effects tend to be accompanied by mental ones, men with low T are more likely to face depression, irritability, or a lack of focus. Memory and cognitive function decline in adults in their older years, some scientists are trying to see if there is a link with testosterone.

Red Blood Cell¹: testosterone is used as an anabolic steroid for athletes. It is shown to increase erythropoietin which stimulates red blood cell production. Testosterone has been shown to help people with anemia.

Decrease muscle mass and bone density, increase body fat²: testosterone increases protein synthesis in skeletal muscle. As men age their serum testosterone concentrations decrease, as do their bone densities³. Not only is testosterone linked with muscle mass, but low testosterone is also associated with increased fat mass.

Tips to boost your testosterone

  • Exercise and Lift Weights- Resistance training, such as weight lifting, is the best type of exercise to boost testosterone in both the short- and long-term.
  • Well balanced diet - A diet based mainly on whole foods is best, with a healthy balance of fat, protein, and carbs. This can optimize both hormone levels and long-term health.
  • Minimize Stress and Cortisol Levels- Unnatural elevations in cortisol can quickly reduce testosterone. These hormones work in a seesaw-like manner: as one goes up, the other comes down.
  • High-Quality sleep- The ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person, but one study found that sleeping only 5 hours per night was linked to a 15% reduction in testosterone levels, over the week-long study.
  • Get out in the sun or Vitamin D- Vitamin D3 supplements may boost testosterone levels, especially in the elderly and people who have low blood levels of vitamin D.
  • Avoid Estrogen products- High exposure to estrogen-like chemicals may also affect your levels, so try to minimize daily exposure to BPA, parabens and other chemicals found in some types of plastic.

Prostate/skin

  • Prostate size naturally increases with age. For most men, this doesn’t become a problem, but all men are at risk for prostate problems. Benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH is an unhealthy growth of the prostate where it puts pressure on the urethra leading to trouble with urinating. This does not lead to prostate cancer
    • 1 in 12 men ages 31-40
    • 1 in 2 men ages 51-60
    • 8 in 10 men ages 80+
  • Prostate CA: One of the most common cancers in men. About one in six men get prostate cancer, the good news is that it is slow growing and about 1 in 35 men will die from it. It can also be caught sooner by testing for antigens in the blood. There is no exact cause of prostate cancer.
  • Melanoma: the most serious skin cancer hits men harder than women. Men are almost twice as likely to get melanoma and die from melanoma. It is related to our skin directly, it’s different from a woman’s skin. We have thicker skin with less fat beneath. Our skin also has more collagen and elastin that give it more firmness and keep it tight. Our skin gets damaged more by the sun’s UV rays.

 Heart Disease

  • Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in American men. The most common being coronary artery disease. Coronary Artery disease occurs when there is an occlusion to an artery that delivers blood to the actual heart muscle.  
    • One out of every four deaths will be a result of cardiac disease.
    • Half of men who die suddenly from a heart attack have no previous symptoms
    • About 80% of sudden cardiac events occur in men
  • Risk Factors:
    • Diabetes
    • overweight
    • poor diet
    • physical inactivity
    • smoking
    • excessive alcohol use
  • Prevention:
    • Many times a heart attack happens spontaneously because we cannot physically see how occluded our vessels are without some kind of procedure from your doctor. Just because you can’t predict when a heart attack will occur you can change your lifestyle and decrease the likelihood of one happening. It’s never too late until it’s too late. Even though you can’t control your age, race, ethnicity, gender, or history there are many factors you can control.
      • Stop smoking and limit alcohol: increases blood pressure and builds plague
      • Maintain a healthy weight
      • Eat a healthy diet: limit saturated fats, high sodium foods, and sugars.
      • Regular exercise: strengthens your heart and improves circulation.
      • Get screened for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes
      • Manage stress: poor coping techniques promote a poor diet, drinking, smoking, and inactivity.
    • An electrocardiogram records electrical signals that travel through your heart. Echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of the heart used to visualize how the heart is pumping. Stress test looks at the signs and symptoms that occur with exercise. Angiogram allows the doctor to view your blood flow by injecting dye into the arteries and is visualized on an x-ray or ct. A heart scan is a ct scan that allows the doctor to see calcium deposits that can narrow your arteries.

Liver Disease

  • Men are more likely than women to drink excessively and twice as likely to binge. About 4.5% of men meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence. Alcoholic liver disease is a result of over consuming alcohol that damages the liver. It leads to a buildup of fat, inflammation, and scarring. This then leads to cirrhosis.
  • The liver breaks down and filters substances in our body. It also cleans the blood, produces bile, and stores glycogen
  • The liver process about one alcoholic beverage an hour and increases with each drink. When there is too much alcohol the liver cannot clear it all and it ends up circulating in your blood leading to intoxication. When alcohol is broken down it creates byproducts called acetaldehyde, too much of this damages liver cells and causes scarring and permanent damage. Fatty liver disease can also be caused by drinking, this is a build up of too much fat around the liver. Fatty liver also does to a byproduct of the breakdown of alcohol which promotes the synthesis of fatty acids.
  • Complications:
    • Excess fluid in your body: A low-sodium diet and medication to prevent fluid buildup in the body may help control ascites and swelling. More-severe fluid buildup may require procedures to drain the fluid or surgery to relieve pressure.
    • Portal hypertension: Certain blood pressure medications may control increased pressure in the veins that supply the liver (portal hypertension) and prevent severe bleeding. Your doctor will perform an upper endoscopy at regular intervals to look for enlarged veins in the esophagus or stomach that may bleed. If you develop varices, you likely will need medication to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you have signs that the varices are bleeding or are likely to bleed, you may need a procedure (band ligation) to stop the bleeding or reduce the risk of further bleeding. In severe cases, you may need a small tube — a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt — placed in your vein to reduce blood pressure in your liver.
    • Infections: You may receive antibiotics or other treatments for infections. Your doctor also is likely to recommend vaccinations for influenza, pneumonia, and hepatitis.
    • Increased liver cancer risk:  Your doctor will likely recommend periodic blood tests and ultrasound exams to look for signs of liver cancer.
    • Hepatic encephalopathy. You may be prescribed medications to help reduce the buildup of toxins in your blood due to poor liver function.
  • Prevention:
    • Stop drinking: liver disease is preventable to a certain extent
    • Diet and exercise

Suicide/loneliness

  • Suicide is on the rise for both sexes. Among men, there was an increase in suicide from 19 to 22.4 per 100,000. Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death in males. Men are almost 3 times as more likely to commit suicide than women. This is due to the underdiagnosis of depression in men. Men are a lot less likely to seek help.
  • A UK study published in the Telegraph stated that 2.5 million men have no close friends and that married men have significantly fewer friends outside of the home compared to their single counterparts. 4 out of 10 men in the survey have thought about taking their lives at some point. 51% of men said they had 2 or fewer people to talk to outside of the home about their worries and 1 in 8 had no one. 11% of single men said they have no one to turn to in a serious situation and 15% among married men.

Diabetes: Type 1/Type 2

  • According to the national Diabetes Statistic report from 2017, nearly 30.3 million people have diabetes (9.4% of the US population). Of that 30.3 million 15.3 million of them are men.
  • Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose), is too high (hyperglycemia). Glucose is what the body uses for energy, and the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that helps convert the glucose from the food you eat into energy. When the body either does not produce enough insulin, does not produce any at all, or your body becomes resistant to the insulin, the glucose does not reach your cells to be used for energy. This results in the health condition termed diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:
  • being overweight or obese
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates and low in fiber and whole grains
  • a history of type 2 diabetes in your immediate family (mother, father, sister, or brother)

Warning signs of diabetes:

  • Excessive thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet

Signs and symptoms of diabetes unique to men include:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence)
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Low testosterone (low-T)
  • Decreased sex drive (decreased libido) and sexual dysfunction

What are the long-term health complications of diabetes?

Long-term diabetes-related complications include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Nerve damage and neuropathy (nerve pain)
  • Kidney disease
  • Retinopathy (nerve damage in the eye and/or blindness)
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral vascular disease

A simple way to check with your doctor to see if you're diabetic

HbA1c level is a form of hemoglobin (a blood pigment that carries oxygen) that is bound to glucose.

HbA1c levels are reflective of blood glucose levels over the past six to eight weeks and do not reflect daily ups and downs of blood glucose.

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