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The World Cup And Testosterone

Women are often baffled by men’s reactions to sport.  Indeed some men are baffled too.  As the World Cup will soon be upon us, and the nations euphoria will build on mass before, no doubt, we have to console ourselves at the loss of yet another penalty shoot out, I thought it might be useful to reflect on what’s going on … in our brains.
football fans
The key to understanding men’s reactions to the World Cup, or any sport for that matter, is testosterone.  From as early as being an unborn child, testosterone shapes and dominates men’s brains.  It literally kills off ‘female’ parts of the brain, and builds the male brain that will seek out beautiful girls … and sport.  So how is testosterone implicated in sport?

Researchers have found that leading up to a competition; men’s brains become flooded with testosterone.  This is the same whether we are competing or simply watching.  The testosterone gives us our sense of excited anticipation, but it also gives us a belief that our team cannot lose.  Given that our brains evolved over millions of years, it’s easy to see why such excitement and confidence could give us an advantage.  Going to hunt or war is going to be more successful if fuelled by excitement and self confidence.

Researchers have also found that if we, or our team, should win, our testosterone levels fly through the roof.  This is a natural high, not dissimilar to cocaine, and it’s addictive.  The natural high these elevated levels of testosterone give us makes us behave with a cockiness and self assuredness that can drive women bonkers.  Women have a testosterone rush with sport too, but with only about 10% of the testosterone of what a man gets, even the keenest women isn’t going to view the World Cup in the same way as a man.  As a result, this part of being a man is permanently off limits to women … they just don’t get it.

You can see this male typical behaviour down the pub.  The excitement and confidence make us wear silly hats and face paint and we bond with our fellow supporters.  The modern equivalent of hunting the wild boar.  If we win … happy days … our testosterone soars and we party on the high.  As our team progresses through the World Cup with (hopefully) win after win, you can see the effects of this group narcosis everywhere, in the proud display of flags and national colours.

But what if we lose?  Well I guess we’ve all experienced that flat feeling when the final score comes in.  The game is over.  All hope has gone.  We have lost.  Men silently finish their drinks and mooch off home feeling despondent, often for days at a time.  It is as if your emotional world has just collapsed.  Why is this?  Well researchers have found that if our team should loose, our testosterone levels also collapse.  As a result, the fuel for the natural high dries up, making is sullen and unresponsive.  We experience a mild depression and self doubt. We even lose interest in sex.  This is a hormonal crisis for men.  A sort of male PMT.

Because women don’t experience the high, they can’t relate to the low either.  Any attempts to explain your feeling of despondency is bound to fail.  Women are biologically not equipped to ‘get’ what we are going through.  The best thing to do is disappear off to the shed for a few days, and wait for our hormones to get back to normal.  Space and time will heal; just let her know that’s what you need.

But what if we don’t lose, what if we actually win the World Cup?  Well we can expect a testosterone high that we will last for months.  The nations feel good factor will skyrocket.  It might even boost our economic output.  Eventually, of course, our bodies will return to normal.  But we will remember the testosterone fuelled euphoria for the rest of our lives.  I hope we win.

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Foods for Prostate Health

Approximately 50 percent of men in their forties experience prostate problems while one in 11 North American men over the age of 50 will develop prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.

Fortunately, medical research has demonstrated that BPH and other prostate conditions and diseases can be prevented, reduced and treated by a variety of procedures, medications, herbal supplements as well as nutritional and lifestyle changes.

The right nutrition can protect the prostate and reduce the risk of disease. Early detection also increases the chance of beating prostate cancer. Physicians estimate that almost 80 per cent of all cancers can be prevented by making healthier lifestyle choices.

Foods that Prevent Prostate Disease

To reduce the risk of prostate cancer avoid saturated and trans fats and add foods that protect against cancers, such as tomatoes, soy, and green tea. Ripe tomatoes contain lycopene, a nutrient that is especially important to men because of its protective effects against prostate cancer. Unlike other nutrients, there are actually higher amounts of lycopene in cooked and processed tomatoes such as tomato sauce.

Soy contains isoflavones with specific anti-cancer activity and green tea is rich in polyphenols which prevent the formation of cancer-causing compounds and block the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Add nuts and seeds to your daily diet to significantly prevent and reduce prostate enlargement. They contain essential fatty acids and zinc, nutrients which inhibit the hormonal processes that cause swelling of the prostate. Unrefined, cold-pressed nut and seed oils such as flax seed, walnut and sesame seed oil are excellent sources of essential fatty acids. Fish oil has a similar, healthy effect.

Take a daily nutritional supplement that contains high doses of the antioxidant selenium (200 micrograms) and vitamin E (800 IU). Both these supplements have been shown to dramatically lower the risk of prostate cancer.

It is no surprise that prostate cancer is more common in western, developed countries, or that its incidence rose in the turn of the century when processed food containing hydrogenated and heat-damaging fats became more available.

Herbal Supplements for Prostate Health

Extracts of two herbs, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and pygeum (Pygeum africanum) have been shown to reduce enlargement of the prostate without adverse side effects. Suggested doses are 320 milligrams of saw palmetto and 40 to 80 mg of pygeum daily. Saw palmetto extract has also been combined with an extract from the herb nettle root, to successfully treat prostate problems other than prostate cancer. Consult a physician before using natural supplements.

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Gynaecomastia

As the name ‘man boobs’ suggests, enlarged breasts in a male are often dismissed lightly, or even treated as a joke. This article provides information for men who might be embarrassed about seeking help and reassurance for their problem.

What is Gynaecomastia?

The mammary glands in males are normally so small that they are barely noticeable. True gynaecomastia occurs when the gland becomes enlarged, leading to protrusion of the breast. The enlargement is usually seen on both sides, though sometimes only one breast is affected.

The most common form of gynaecomastia is thought to be caused by an imbalance between the male and female sex hormones, testosterone and oestrogen. Both are present in both men and women, with testosterone dominant in men and oestrogen dominant in women. A relative increase in oestrogen levels in a male can lead to breast development.

Certain medications can cause gynaecomastia as a side-effect. These include cimitedine, which is used to treat stomach ulcers, the diuretic spironolactone, and some tricyclic antidepressants and chemotherapy agents. Body-builders who take anabolic steroids may also develop enlarged breast tissue.

Man boobs often occur in men who are overweight or obese. Unlike true gynaecomastia, which is caused by growth of the mammary glands, these breasts are simply fat beneath the skin. This is often called ‘pseudo-gynaecomastia’ or ‘lipomastia’ to distinguish it from true gynaecomastia.

The chest muscles may become greatly enlarged through weight-lifting or other exercise, giving the appearance of breasts, but this is not gynaecomastia.

In some cases, the cause of gynaecomastia is never identified.

Who Gets Gynaecomastia?

  • Newborn boys (and girls) may have transiently enlarged breast tissue caused by oestrogens acquired from the mother.
  • Gynaecomastia is most common in adolescent boys. Imbalances in the sex hormones are normal during puberty, but breast development can be extremely distressing for a young man who is already concerned about appearance, sexuality and peer relationships.
  • Gynaecomastia is also common in older men, as production of testosterone wanes with age.

Can Gynaecomastia Indicate a Serious Health Problem?

In most cases, gynaecomastia is harmless. However, it can occasionally have a more serious cause, including:

  • Klinefelter’s syndrome (a genetic disorder in which males have an extra X-chromosome)
  • tumours of the adrenal or pituitary gland
  • testicular tumours
  • chronic liver disease.

Never hesitate to consult your doctor if you are in any way concerned about enlarged breast tissue.

How is Gynaecomastia Treated?

Adolescent gynaecomastia usually disappears by itself as the young man grows up and his hormones ‘settle down’.

Treatment is mainly reserved for men who have gynaecomastia of no known cause, or who continue to have prominent breasts after treatment of an underlying condition.

  • Drugs for gynaecomastia combat the action of oestrogen or reduce its production.
  • Plastic surgery may be considered for cosmetic or psychological regions. An incision is made in the skin and the breast tissue is removed surgically.
  • Liposuction may help in men with lipomastia.

If you are overweight and have man boobs, it might be time to consider shedding a few pounds. Your doctor can advise you on a healthy eating and exercise plan, and organizations such as Weight Watchers now run men-only classes. As well as losing your boobs, you will gain many other health benefits.

Gynaecomastia: No Cause For Embarrassment

Enlarged breasts in males are so common, there is no need to feel embarrassed about them. Gynaecomastia is usually harmless, but never hesitate to see your doctor if you are worried about the problem or have any other concerns.

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