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Testosterone Replacement Therapies and Prostate Cancer

Understanding hormone therapy options

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men, with skin cancer being the first. High-dose testosterone replacement therapies have been found to help in some cases of advanced prostate cancer. However, the most common type of treatment for prostate cancer continues to be hormone suppression treatments, which have been in use for a while. After successful prostate cancer treatments, you may want to receive testosterone replacement therapy. There are some concerns to this, with regards to whether or not testosterone replacement is helpful or harmful after prostate cancer treatment. The science on these issues is continuing to progress, attempting to find out just what type of impact testosterone replacement has on post-prostate cancer recipients.

High-Dosage Testosterone as a Treatment For Prostate Cancer

A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital found that there was a possibility that high dosages of testosterone could help treat certain forms of prostate cancer. Testosterone fuels prostate tumors, so the thought of treating this cancer with more testosterone was viewed very skeptically by the medical community. Johns Hopkins’ researchers, in a trial involving sixteen men with prostate cancer that was resistant to castration, found that high doses of testosterone could be linked to the disease waning. Fourteen out of the sixteen men in the trial finished their therapy, and the majority of their cancer seemed to be showing signs that the disease was retreating. Several became newly sensitized to castrating drugs, which were used to treat their prostate cancer but had become ineffectual. The castration drugs began to work again after these high doses of testosterone.

Although this was a small clinical trial, it held promising results for patients looking for other ways to treat their prostate cancer besides hormone suppression therapies, which reduce testosterone levels and can have unpleasant side effects as a result. The main takeaway from the Johns Hopkins study was that the prostate cancer, when exposed to high dosages of testosterone replacement, did not grow any worse and, in many of the cases, it even showed signs of improvement. That casts a hopeful light onto further attempts to find alternatives to hormone suppression.

Testosterone Replacement After a Successful Prostate Cancer Treatment

This issue—whether or not testosterone replacement after surviving prostate cancer is acceptable—is hotly debated. For a long time, there has been a strict “prohibition” on testosterone treatment after prostate cancer. Testosterone plays a role in the development of this cancer and, logically, it could be inferred that further doses of the hormone would only cause the cancer to worsen or, in the case of those who had beaten the cancer, return.

However, that perception has changed slightly. Some experts have pointed out that men experience declines in their testosterone levels as they age, but also develop prostate cancer as they get older. If they are developing this disease as their testosterone rate drops, some argue, then how can testosterone be responsible for it? Doctors such as Harvard Medical School’s Abraham Morgentaler, M.D. also have called on the medical community to look at the benefits that increasing testosterone has on men’s mood, libido, and energy level.

On the other side of the debate are cautious doctors who don’t want to take the risk of the testosterone replacement “reawakening” dormant cancer cells and potentially leading to a return of the disease. The FDA seems to agree with this, as it requires testosterone products to contain a label that says that testosterone therapy is “contraindicated” in men who have previously had prostate cancer.

Studies have shown that men that have had prostatectomies (prostate removals) did not show a reoccurrence of the cancer after they were given testosterone replacement. These studies, conducted by Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine, treated men with testosterone therapy and then followed them for a lengthy follow-up time (in one of the studies, the follow-up time was twelve years) to see if they redeveloped the cancer. The researchers found that there was no reoccurrence of the prostate cancer after the testosterone replacement therapies.

A middle-ground that the medical community seems to be coming towards is that of caution: if you’re going to give patients testosterone replacement therapies after successful prostate cancer treatments, it should be done slowly and gradually, so that there is a chance to stop the treatment immediately if a reoccurrence of cancer is shown. During this time, more studies are being conducted on patients who have not had their prostates removed to see if they, too, do not show signs of returning cancer when receiving testosterone treatments.

A successful prostate cancer treatment is excellent, but it will likely leave your testosterone levels depleted. Low testosterone can cause fatigue, erectile dysfunction, low libido, irritability, mood swings, and more. Because of these side effects, doctors and medical researchers are doing everything they can to make the science of post-prostate-cancer testosterone replacement therapy more definitive, clear, and accessible.

Sleep and Your Memory – How a Good Recollection Relies on a Good Night’s Sleep

From Your Mattress to Your Memory

We’ve all pulled an all-nighter at some point in our lifetimes, especially if we’ve been to college or work unusual hours. There comes a point where going to sleep just seems a little futile, so instead we grab a cold shower and a cup of coffee, and just plow on through. However, skipping sleep doesn’t really do you or your mental prowess a lot of favors. Whenever you feel tired and sleep deprived, you find it harder to focus, to react and, crucially, to remember things. You’re more likely to forget important information when you’ve not slept very well or slept at all, and this is because there are essential links between your mental prowess and your sleeping behaviors.

For instance, we already know that when you go to sleep, your brain uses it as an opportunity to reorder and codify new information acquired during your waking hours. We see it every night as we dream.

While the mechanics behind dreams and the purposes they serve are still poorly understood, scientists and doctors have strong reasons to believe that they’re essential for the acquisition and retention of experiences and information. Put crudely, dreams may simply be the result of the brain reorganizing your neural pathways and strengthening connections to process what it’s learned. During this process, it retains important information while discarding unimportant information. Mundane details such as your commute to work will be less likely to be kept than the learning of a new skill or an especially noteworthy experience. Functionally, you could think of it like defragging an old hard drive. So when you deny your brain this opportunity, it should come as no surprise to find that your thoughts are cluttered.

“I’d Better Sleep On It”

Before undertaking any learning, it’s a good idea to get a good night’s sleep so you can come into it fresh, and refreshed. While forcing yourself to stay up late the day before an exam is the time-honored college tradition, the truth is there’s a reason we only burn candles at the one end. Taking the time to sleep allows the brain to prepare itself to receive and catalog new information, and studies show that being well-rested correlates positively with memory retention and learning, while conversely being tired makes learning slower.

Skill retention can be held back by as much as 40% if you haven’t slept properly.

There are ultimately three processes behind your memories:

Acquisition – the act of experiencing or learning something new, which forms the initial memory.

Consolidation – in which the memory is codified and retained within the brain, allowing it survive on a longer basis.

Recall – the capacity to bring up that memory in future while retaining its clarity.

The acquisition and recollection of memory is a conscious effort but consolidation, on the other hand, only occurs during rest. No matter the type of memory, it will be harder to retain if you do not get enough sleep as your brain will have little opportunity to cement it, resulting in half-remembered or lost information. However, the process is still very puzzling. Despite being associated with a specific period of sleep – the rapid eye movement (REM) stage – there does not seem to be any detrimental effect if the patient is under an effect in which REM is suppressed. In these cases, memory retention goes on as normal. Scientists are still trying to work out why this is, and unlocking the mystery may help us further understand the mechanics behind sleep and how the brain operates.

Not only does sleeping benefit memory retention, but it’s also useful for retaining motor-skills and coordination for physical tasks as well. During one test, subjects were made to sleep or nap after performing a task such as playing the piano or playing football. In the majority of cases, sleeping was found to have benefitted the subjects in retaining what they had learned on the topic.

Practical Applications

It’s clearly advisable to students then that they get a good night’s sleep before undertaking any academic tasks. Whenever studying, always try to do it while still awake and refreshed, and always try to ensure that you get a good seven-and-a-half to eight hours sleep the night before. This should help you retain more and more of what you learn beforehand. Further getting plenty of rest before an exam will make it easier to recall important information during the process.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the periods of sleep in which memory retention is undertaken gets gradually shorter. By the mid-30s people will already start finding it harder to retain memories. Furthermore, as we get older it frequently seems harder and harder to get the sleep we need. But there are a number of ways you can improve not just the quantity, but the quality of your sleep.

Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is a lifestyle habit, and you need to treat it that way. Sleep and wake at the same time each day, and avoid too much activity or bright screens directly before bedtime. While it might seem like a good idea to wear yourself out, more often than not, you’re only keeping yourself awake longer. Make sure you’re not drinking caffeine after lunch — you’d be surprised how long the effects can linger.

Ask yourself if your sleep environment is really conducive to sleep. Try to keep it free of electronics or other distractions. If you find yourself getting up to check the thermostat, consider also using more or less bedding. You can use curtains and white-noise machines to counter any outside interference, as well.

Lastly, don’t forget the bed you sleep on. If you don’t know when the mattress was last replaced, it’s probably been too long. If you wake up feeling sore every morning, a lumpy old spring mattress could be the culprit. A new premium foam mattress might be all you need to get your sleep back in hand.

How to Have Braces as an Adult

Adulthood and BracesWhen you think about having braces, it may seem like something only a preteen or teenager would wear. A common misconception is that braces are only for kids. Many adults who need braces might be reluctant to get them because they feel that they are unattractive or childish. This is a misperception, as there are many different types of braces that have reduced visibility and aren’t very obvious. Also, the need for braces doesn’t dissipate just because you would rather not wear them. The health of your teeth comes first, and neglecting to straighten and correct misalignments for the sake of aesthetic appearance does far more harm than good. In this article, we will discuss the importance of having braces if you need them, regardless of age, as well as the options available that will make it very easy and unobtrusive for adults to wear them.

If You Need Them, You Need Them

There’s no way around it. Braces are corrective, and they are used to adjust misaligned teeth and get them straightened and realigned so that you don’t have problems later on. Neglecting to wear braces if you need them can have serious side effects that harm your health. This goes beyond simple appearance problems (crooked teeth are unsightly and can throw your whole face off); hygiene is also a problem. While dental hygiene with braces is slightly more time-consuming than dental hygiene without them, if you have an underbite, overbite, misalignment, and/or another problem, it can be difficult to clean out food particles in the teeth. If your teeth have areas that are hard to reach due to crookedness or bunching together, it can be difficult to floss and brush them thoroughly. Teeth also may break or chip easier because of these problems. And, as we all know, shabbily-cleaned teeth develop plaque and, subsequently, cavities.

Options for Adults that Will Make You Okay With Having Braces

There are multiple options for braces that are minimally-visible and unobtrusive, while at the same time easy to clean and wear.

1. Invisalign

Invisalign braces are clear. These transparent braces are very subtle. They treat a wide variety of cases and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA). In terms of clear aligners, there are few that can compete with Invisalign. Invisalign has multiple benefits over traditional braces. They are made of plastic, which is smoother and more comfortable, you can eat the food you want, and you are able to remove them when you desire. They are also easier to clean, and you can brush and floss your teeth without the hassle of regular braces. For more information on the benefits of Invisalign, click here.

2. Braces on the Back of Your Teeth

Don’t mistake praise for Invisalign as a disavowal of how well other forms of braces work. You can have braces on the backs of your teeth, making them invisible when you smile. These are known as “nano braces” or “lingual braces” and they are made of nickel-titanium wire to hold the shape of your teeth and aid realigning them. Nano braces are most appropriate for people with regular-sized teeth and no deep, vertical overbite, as that can make it difficult to fit the braces. These braces are custom-fitted to patients, potentially making the treatment time reduced. Nano braces are also a popular choice because, like the Invisalign braces, they are invisible to other people.

3. Braces and Invisalign Combined

A combination used by dentists is braces on your bottom teeth and Invisalign on the top. Your bottom teeth are not as visible as your top teeth unless you have a pronounced underbite. For patients who do not have that problem, combining braces and Invisalign may be a match that works for them. Your teeth will be straightened in a timely fashion and you will be able to remove the Invisalign up top when you need to brush and floss there. This minimizes visibility and, although it is more noticeable than the first two options, it is still very viable and will work well.

4. Ceramic Braces

The idea of ceramic may bring to mind dishes and vases, but it is actually a strong substance that can work wonders for your teeth. Ceramic is non-metallic, hard, and tightly-compressed. It is a crystal oxide, nitride, or carbide. As stated, one of the most common insecurities that adults have about braces is that they are too visible. Ceramic braces are the same color as your teeth, and all that is visible is the wire that holds them there. Ceramic braces are a popular choice because the material is strong and does the job of straightening your teeth effectively while also being minimally-visible.

 If you are an adult who needs braces, you should absolutely get them. The art of braces has come a long way, and there are methods and options out there for people who don’t want to have obtrusive, easy-to-see braces. Talk to your dentist for different options that could meet your needs best.  Having straight and healthy teeth is important for people of all ages, and you should not hesitate to take corrective action to improve your dental health.