Finasteride, the not so secret hair loss prevention pill.
By Richard Emery
Merck got FDA approval to sell Finasteride in 1997. It was created to help with enlarged prostate glands.
However, it was shortly discovered that 1mg enlarges the hair follicles in men and can be up to 69% effective in hair regeneration making it one of the best answers for male pattern baldness.
There are many health blogs and sites that can confirm this. With over 20 years of knowledge and millions of men around the world taking the drug. Here’s what one Australian physician said in 2019.
Although in the West it is a ‘prescription only’ medication it can be bought over the counter in some countries e.g. Thailand.
It can also be bought online. And the price varies greatly between countries.
The pill can be bought in 1mg and 5mg forms. The most economic way to get it is to buy the 5mg and cut it into quarters.
There are some possible side effects and these should be taken into consideration e.g. 9.4% of Americans claim to have loss of libido. A full list of possible side effects should be researched before taking this (or for that matter any) new medication.
The long term effect of thickening of the hair follicles usually kicks in within a few months, at most, and lasts as long as the medication is taken and there are no apparent long term side effects to taking Finasteride.
However, from 2005 to 2009, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Finasteride because it was discovered that the drug could be used to mask steroid abuse. It was removed from the list effective January 1, 2009, after improvements in testing methods made the ban unnecessary.
Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that donation of blood or plasma be deferred for at least one month after taking the last dose of Finasteride. The UK also has a one-month deferral period.
Vitamin-D Deficiency: What You Should Know
by Julie Biegner
Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin for your skin and beauty, bones and strength, and overall health and immunity. However, an estimated one-billion people worldwide have a vitamin-D deficiency. It’s important to know what vitamin D is, how to discern if you’re are lacking this vital vitamin, and what you can do about it.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it can travel into your blood circulation and be stored in your body’s tissues. It’s the only vitamin that can be produced in the body on its own, making it more of a hormone than a vitamin. It does so when your skin has direct sun exposure. It can also be found in some food sources as well as vitamin-D supplementation.
Once your body takes in vitamin D, chemical processes in your liver allow it to absorb into your blood. Your blood then directs it through your tissues and in your kidney. There, it turns into activated vitamin D (also known as calcitriol). In this activated form, it now supports the calcium supply and absorption by your blood, bones, and gut. It helps the cells in your body to grow and function properly. Here’s how vitamin D works in the body from any of the three sources.
How To Know If You Are ‘D’eficient
As vitamin D plays a pivotal role in your body, it’s important to ensure your body gets enough of it. However, research has shown that a large percentage of people don’t.
Your geographic region plays a large role on your ability to get vitamin D from sunshine. The Harvard Health blog states unfortunate findings. Outside of summer, there’s little to no chance of getting vitamin D from the sun for those at latitudes above 37 degrees north (a high percentage of the US) or 37 degrees south of the equator.
But it’s not just those below the 37th degree that can be vitamin-D deficient. Even in sunshine locales like southern California, deficiency is prevalent due to the extensive use of—and need for—sunscreen. Also, anyone who doesn’t spend sufficient time in sunlight can have a vitamin-D deficiency. The recommended time varies due to a variety of factors. For instance, those with darker skin have a greater chance of being deficient because skin pigments act as natural sun protection. One study showed that a black man in Chicago needs at least 90 minutes in the sun three times a week to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a white man in Chicago can in 15 minutes three times a week. When sun exposure is simply not an option, natural food sources, vitamin D-fortified foods, and supplementation are options.
5 Signs you May Have a Vitamin-D Deficiency
Because of the prevalence of vitamin-D deficiency and the role it plays in your body, it’s important to know the signs. If you think you might be missing out on vitamin D, connect with your doctor about getting tested for the next steps. Here are five signs that your body might have a vitamin-D deficiency.
1. Weak Bones or Muscles
Vitamin D has been most heavily researched for its connection to bone and muscle strength. It’s been found that vitamin-D deficiencies increase the risk of fractures in older adults. Vitamin D ensures the body is able to absorb calcium and phosphorus, critical elements to building strong bones. In a review of 12 fracture prevention trials with 40,000 elderly individuals, researchers found that high intakes of vitamin D supplementation (800 IU per day) reduced hip and non-spinal fractures by 20%. Muscle strength to prevent falls and fractures was greater in those with sufficient vitamin D.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder characterized by depression that usually occurs during winter. It’s related to the decrease in sunlight your body gets. Lack of sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin, our body’s chemical contributor to well-being and happiness. Studies have found that serotonin levels rise with exposure to bright light and fall with reduced exposure to light. However, the drop in mood doesn’t only relate to the drop in serotonin; it can also be due to the vitamin D your body is missing during winter months. One longitudinal study from 2006 on 80 elderly participants found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression.
3. Poor Skin Health
Vitamin D plays an important role in protecting skin cell health, reducing wrinkles, improving skin softness, and maintaining a smooth, glowing complexion. At the same time, UV rays from extensive sun exposure can harm the health of your skin cells. In fact, they can be dangerous to your health. It’s important to be careful to find the right balance, and we’ll discuss more on this below.
Calcitriol, the activated form of vitamin D, is essential to skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism in the renewal process. As your skin cells are constantly dying, keratinocytes (which account for 95% of all the cells in your epidermis) are the center that keep your skin cells dividing and differentiating in order to constantly regenerate. This activity creates the structure of your skin that locks in moisture and keeps skin hydrated. Vitamin D is vital to keep this process running smoothly so your cells renew and your skin appears healthy and smooth.
4. Acne or Eczema
Part of this process extends to issues with acne or eczema when you have a vitamin-D deficiency. Because vitamin D is a hormone, a deficiency can likely have an affect on your other hormones. Thus, a hormone imbalance is possible. In addition, proper vitamin-D levels stimulate your T-cells to fight infection, including the acne bacteria. Vitamin D is also known to cool inflammation and control your insulin response. It’s helpful in reducing severe skin conditions such as acne or eczema.
One study on oral vitamin-D supplementation found the clinical improvement of patients with atopic dermatitis, aka eczema. Vitamin D may also impact sebocytes, cells in your body that that excrete oil, by producing proteins with antibacterial properties.
5. Weakened Immunity
A vitamin-D deficiency can play a role in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), type-1 diabetes, or IBS. Researchers have found MS rates to be higher far north or far south of the equator, where exposure to sunlight is more limited. One Finnish study found that children who regularly took vitamin-D supplements during infancy had a 90% lower risk of developing type-1 diabetes than those who didn’t.
Vitamin D can also play a role in your body’s response to infectious diseases like the flu, common cold, or tuberculosis. Calcitriol is known to boost the immune cell production of microbe-fighting proteins. Researchers found that adults with low D levels were more likely to report having a recent cold, cough, or upper-respiratory infection.
What to Do if you Have a Vitamin-D Deficiency
If you believe you may have a vitamin-D deficiency, it is recommended speaking with your doctor to get your vitamin-D levels tested. Here are a few preventative and restorative steps you can take naturally on your own.
Direct sun exposure makes the most sense for boosting your vitamin-D levels. However, there are a number of factors that can make this not a nonviable option. Winter months, cold climates, and busy workdays can make the daily recommended exposure to sun impossible. Even during summer, SPF greater than eight blocks the ability of your skin to absorb vitamin D3. Consequently, it can be difficult to get the sun nutrients without exposing yourself to the dangers of overexposure.
The best way to prevent a vitamin-D deficiency is by getting it from direct sunlight. You should spend an adequate amount of time exposed to UV rays without the need to tan or burn your skin. Here are a few factors to consider:
– Time of year and time of day: The closer it is to midday, the more exposure your body gets to vitamin D. Here’s a tip: Make sure your shadow is shorter than your actual height to get optimal D exposure.
– Color of your skin: As mentioned earlier, the fairer your skin is, the less time you’ll need to be in the sun to absorb UV rays. The darker your skin is, the more time you’ll need, scaling from 15 to 90 minutes.
– Amount of skin you expose: The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you can produce. Forearm, rather than facial, exposure is best for vitamin-D uptake.
– Factors that block UVB: Glass blocks UVB but not UVA, so it’s not safe to attempt to get your daily sunshine vitamin from through a window. In addition, sunscreens with SPF ratings above eight effectively block the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin.
– Note for tanning: Use low-pressure beds with a good amount of UVB light rather than high-intensity UVA light.
In cases when it is not possible to get vitamin D through sun exposure, take supplements. Vitamin-D supplements use two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The D3 is the same chemically as produced in the body and is thus the preferred form.
Vitamin D is measured in IU, the International Unit usually used to measure fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, and E. The recommended dose of vitamin D is up for debate among medical professionals. However, the upper limit notes the degree to which safety is assumed, and is at 4,000 IUs per day. Based on an analysis of the research and recommendations by top nutritionists on efficacy,
What does HIV Undetectable mean? (HIV+U | U=U)
By Richard Emery
April 20th 2021
Picture from the Gay Men’s Health Project (YouTube video)
The term “HIV Undetectable” is used to describe someone who is living with HIV but on effective and successful medication. Being HIV Undetectable means that the virus cannot be passed on through sex. HIV+U and U=U have become popular terms used to describe people who are HIV Undetectable.
These days when someone tests positive with HIV they are put on treatment very quickly After a short period of time the medicine starts to work and that person’s viral load (the amount of HIV in the body) begins to decline. Once under a certain level they become ‘undetectable’, meaning that the amount of HIV in their body is so low that it will not show up on test and cannot be passed on to someone else.
In a recent study (PARTNER2) gay couples were recruited and observed between 2010-18, one was HIV-undetectable and the other HIV-negative. Of the 782 couples eligible for the study, all of which had condomless anal sex for a total of 76,000 times, no HIV transmission between any of them was discovered.
Another study – the first PARTNER Study (2010-2014) also monitored condomless sex between over 1,000 straight and gay couples again where one was HIV-undetectable and the other HIV-negative. These couples also had condomless sex for over 58,000 times. This study also found no transmission of HIV between any of the couples.
Does being Undetectable mean sex is safe between consenting adults without using condoms?
These studies suggest that someone who is undetectable and on effective treatment is not infectious with HIV. However, it does not mean that either person is safe from other STD’s!
Researchers are obviously cautious about saying that any prevention method is 100% safe but the evidence does show that undetectable means uninfectious (U=U).
Studies have shown that it can take up to 6 months for someone to become fully undetectable and regular testing is required to make sure that the results are correct.
Can HIV Treatment Be Taken Just 4 Days a Week?
April 20 2021
Taking meds for four days followed by three days off maintained viral suppression for two years.
Taking antiretroviral treatment for four consecutive days each week followed by a three-day break maintains viral suppression as well as a daily regimen, according to a study presented at the recent virtual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic infection (CROI).
In the era of effective antiretroviral therapy, researchers are exploring treatment approaches that do not require taking pills each day. Some studies have involved new types of treatment, like the long-acting injectable regimen Cabenuva, while others are looking at less frequent dosing of approved oral medications.
More than a decade ago, researchers reported results from the FOTO study showing that people who took antiretrovirals for five days a week followed by weekend breaks were as likely to maintain viral suppression as those who took their meds every day. Another study found that weekend treatment breaks also worked well for adolescents and young adults with HIV.
The QUATOR trial, sponsored by the French Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis, explored whether people with an undetectable viral load could maintain viral suppression while taking medications just four days a week.
This open-label study included more than 600 adults who had a viral load below 50 for at least a year and no evidence of drug resistance. More than 80% were men, the median age was 49 and the median CD4 count was nearly 700. They had been on treatment for a median of about seven years with viral suppression for a median of about six years.
The participants were using a variety of different antiretroviral regimens, mostly including an integrase inhibitor (48%) or a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, or NNRTI (46%). About 70% were also taking tenofovir disoproxil fumarate or tenofovir alafenamide (components of the Truvada and Descovy combination pills, respectively), while the rest were taking abacavir and lamivudine (the drugs in the Epzicom combination).
For the first 48 weeks, they were randomly assigned to either stay on their existing regimen every day or take their meds Monday through Thursday followed by three days off. After that, all participants in both groups followed the four-day schedule for another 48 weeks.
At the 2019 International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science, Roland Landman, MD, of Hôpital Bichat in Paris, reported that 95.6% of people on the four-day schedule and 97.2% of those taking pills every day maintained an undetectable viral load at 48 weeks, showing that the intermittent regimen was non-inferior to continuous treatment. Virological failure rates were low in both groups (1.9% and 1.3%, respectively) and did not differ based on which antiretroviral drug class participants were using.
Despite these promising findings, there has been some concern about the durability of the intermittent approach, given that drug resistance can emerge over time. But follow-up findings a year later are reassuring.
At CROI, Landman presented results after participants had been followed for 96 weeks. At that point, 92.7% of the participants who had initially been randomized to the four-day schedule and 96.1% of those who switched from daily to intermittent treatment at week 48 still maintained viral suppression. Virological failure rates rose to 4.2% and 2.0%, respectively. However, in the four-day group, this differed according to the drugs used: 2.4% for those taking an integrase inhibitor versus 5.3% for those taking an NNRTI.
New drug resistance mutations were detected in three of the six people who experienced virological failure through week 48 and in four of the 13 who did so between weeks 48 and 96. All but one developed a mutation (M184) that confers resistance to lamivudine and emtricitabine. Four people developed NNRTI resistance mutations, and one developed an integrase resistance mutation.
Both treatment strategies were generally safe and well tolerated, with few differences in the frequency or type of adverse events. However, people in the four-day group saw a small but significant improvement in kidney function. (Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate can cause kidney problems, and taking it less often may be beneficial.)
What’s more, Landman noted that a related analysis showed that people on the four-day schedule were no more likely to have detectable virus in their semen, which has important implications for HIV transmission. And the four-day regimen could reduce the cost of treatment by about 40%.
Landman and colleagues concluded that the intermittent treatment approach, especially using an integrase inhibitor, “represents a real, workable alternative” to taking pills every day.
Colon Cancer – Should I Be Worried?
By Richard Emery
April 29 2021
If you are a young (under 45) healthy person who exercises a lot and eats healthily, then probably not.
However, in the United States this year around 150,000 adults will be diagnosed with some form of colorectal cancer and in the UK there will be around 43,000 new bowel cancer cases (117 per day). In the US it’s the second most common cancer and in the UK the third. And the number of deaths, annually, will be around 53,000 and 16,600 respectively with rates in both countries being roughly 60% male to 40% female.
In both countries most cases are in the elderly (over 80) and have been steadily declining in the past decade by around 1%. However, since the mid 90’s there has been a steady growth in numbers of younger people (50+). In the US the recommended screening age has been lowered to 45. This can be highlighted by the early death last year of Chadwick Boseman at the age of just 43.
In both countries the higher numbers are found in deprived areas. In the UK most cases are in caucasans but in the US the numbers are disproportionately higher in the black community.
What is the cause?
Colon cancer symptoms tend to be somewhat generic. Asymptomatic colon cancer is very common and as with any cancer a person’s risk of developing it depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
A high processed meat diet and lack of ‘roughage’ (this causing around 28% of the cancers in the UK) appear to be the main cause but contributing factors appear to be mainly obesity, smoking, alcohol and a lack of exercise.
What are the symptoms?
Here is a list from one medical site:
A change in bowel habits
Diarrhoea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
Bright red or very dark blood in the stool
Stools that look narrower or thinner than normal
Discomfort in the abdomen, including frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, and cramps
Weight loss with no known explanation
Constant tiredness or fatigue
Unexplained iron-deficiency anaemia, which is a low number of red blood cells
Of course, if you are worried the first thing to do is see your GP and take it from there.
In the US screening is covered by most medical insurance companies as part of the policy.
Is there a cure?
As with a lot of ailments prevention is better than a cure and with colon cancers 54% of these types of cancer are probably preventable by a change in lifestyle.
However, if caught early survival rates over 10 years appear to be around 53% but the problem with these forms of cancer is that they go unnoticed until it’s too late and its in an advanced stage.
There are currently over 1.5 million colorectal cancer survivors living in the US alone.
Disclaimer: Richard Emery is not a medical expert and this article was put together from a range of medical and other articles and is in no way meant to be taken as medical advice.
By Richard Emery
July 28th, 2021
It is commonly known that losing weight is generally good for you. This group is only available in the UK.
Everyone knows that Harvard University is the best, most smartest (yes, most smartest) university in the whole entire galaxy — it’s filled with egg-headed super geniuses who eat, breathe and dream science 27 hours a day. So when Harvard researchers say that masturbating 21 times a month can help us avoid prostate cancer, we better listen.
A Harvard study of 31,925 men published in the journal European Urology found that men can reduce their risk of contracting prostate cancer by 33% just by ejaculating 21 times per month.
That may sound weirdly specific, but researchers looked at the number of prostate cancer screenings and prostate biopsies (when pathologists examine tissue removed from the prostate) and found a correlation between men who frequently ejaculated and those who had lower levels of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA), bodily toxins that indicate a higher risk for prostate cancer.
When researchers averaged the frequency of ejaculations by men with the lowest levels of PSA, they found that 21 ejaculations a month corresponded with the lowest PSA levels.
But before you start thinking that lube and porn tube sites alone will protect you from prostate cancer, you should know that overall weight, physical activity and diet are the most important risk indicators for prostate cancer. That is, a low-fat and low-dairy diet with fish, fruits and vegetables help men successfully avoid prostate cancer more so than masturbation. Regular exercise also helps, too.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of male cancer (one in eight men get it at some point in their lives) and it’s the second most lethal cancer among men. However, the Prostate Cancer Center says that the cure rate for prostate cancer detected in its early stages is very high: “Nearly 100% of men diagnosed and treated at this stage will be disease-free after five years.”
We should probably all start ejaculating 21 times a month just to be sure though. Harvard commands us!
Are you ejaculating enough to avoid prostate cancer? Ready to step up your game?
This article was originally published on July 5, 2017. It has since been updated.
Gay men have long known that the prostate, that walnut-sized gland located between the rectum and penis, doubles as a “male g-spot,” a sensitive spot rich in nerve endings that, when stimulated, can enhance sensual pleasure and create strong orgasms. But American researchers have only recently begun to examine the medical benefits of prostate massage. So we did a little research and found five potential benefits.
First, what is prostate massage?
There are three standard ways to massage your prostate. The first two involve your hands, and the third involves an inserted device.
If you’re using your hands, you can stimulate your prostate externally with a firm but gentle rub on the perineum, the spot between a man’s testicles and anus. A circular motion will help you feel a bit of sensitive pressure in that spot. You can also insert a lubed-up finger (or two) completely into your anus and gently arch them towards the front of the body, as if making a “come here” beckoning motion. You should feel a little mound of sensitive pressure within.
You can also use a male prostate massager like the Aneros or any number of vibrating prostate massagers available for purchase. Both generally work by inserting them and having them gently rub against the prostate while the user flexes his pelvic floor muscles, the same muscles men use to stop urination or tighten the anus.
Here are 5 benefits of prostate massage:
1. Better orgasms
As we mentioned, gently massaging the prostate adds extra stimulation that enhances orgasmic pleasure, especially while masturbating. If you’re not used to massaging your prostate, the initial feeling may be a little uncomfortable, but experimenting with hands or toys during masturbation can help you find what sensations work best for you.
And while better orgasms aren’t a medical benefit, per se, sex researcher Dr. Howard Friedman has said (and many others believe as well) there’s some correlation between sexual satisfaction and healthy lives.
2. Increased sexual function
In a study of 154 men who used prostate massagers, researchers from the Department of Urology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City found that 10% reported “increased sexual function and ejaculate,” meaning they found their bodies more responsive to sexual stimulation.
Sex therapist Matty Silver also says that prostate massage improves blood flow to the prostate, which increases circulation and can help with impotence.
3. Increased amount of ejaculate
The Columbia researchers found that 10% of men also reported experiencing better ejaculations as a result of prostate massage. This isn’t entirely surprising, seeing as 30% of semen comes from fluid provided by the prostate. Researchers think stimulating the prostate could encourage the production of more fluid, but they say they need more clinical research to determine whether this is actually the case.
4. Decreased prostate pain
In the same study, researchers found that prostate massage reduced the pain symptoms in 80% of men with prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate that can cause frequent urination), chronic prostatitis or pelvic pain (two other non-bacterial conditions that can cause pain). Silver adds that prostate massage “helps eliminate the build-up of prostatic fluid in the prostate gland ducts, which can lead to prostatitis.”
While this is good news, researchers admit they didn’t track how often each man used his prostate massager, nor did they know whether the men were taking other medications that might’ve helped alleviate their symptoms.
Furthermore, they say a wider study would have to use a larger sample size with men of different races. (Their study was mostly white men, with a few black and Asian men.) They’d also like to see the effects when men use prostate massagers of different sizes.
5. Less shame about anal play
A final observation of the Columbia researchers was that encouraging men to use prostate massagers in their own homes can help patients reduce stigma and the “mental burden” associated with anal insertion and pleasure. Considering how often bottoms are shamed in the gay community for being “passive” or “feminine,” increasing awareness about the male G-spot can help encourage men of all sorts to explore their bodies and improve their sexual enjoyment.
Are you going to add regular prostate massage to your sexual arsenal?
This article was originally published on Nov. 20, 2017. It has since been updated.
Viagra linked to unexpected and beneficial long-term side effect
Posed by model (Shutterstock)
A major study has suggested a link between taking Viagra (also known under its generic name of sildenafil) and a significant reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Undertaken by the Cleveland Clinic, researchers looked at the health insurance claims of over 7million people. It found that people who took Viagra were almost 70% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the next six years of follow-up, compared to those who didn’t take it. The results were published in Nature Ageing.
That’s a massive and unexpected potential benefit to the drug. However, before you all start popping the pills – normally used to help treat erectile dysfunction – the researchers say they need to do more work to prove that it’s all down to the Viagra. It’s possible those people taking the drug are doing something else that has led to the reduction in Alzheimer’s.
The study’s senior author, Feixiong Cheng, said, “Notably, we found that sildenafil use reduced the likelihood of Alzheimer’s in individuals with coronary artery disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are co-morbidities significantly associated with risk of the disease, as well as in those without.”
Alzheimer’s is caused by abnormal protein deposits building up in the brains of those affected, causing dementia. The researchers found that taking larger doses of sildenafil (larger than normally taken) boosted brain cell growth and reduced protein accumulation in lab studies of human tissue.
Cheng went on to say that the clinic would now be conducting a trial to fully confirm whether sildenafil truly does reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s.
“Because our findings only establish an association between sildenafil use and reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, we are now planning a mechanistic trial and a phase II randomized clinical trial to test causality and confirm sildenafil’s clinical benefits for Alzheimer’s patients.”
Dr. Jack Auty, lecturer in the Medical Sciences at the University of Tasmania, told the BBC he gave a cautious welcome to the news: “In the field of Alzheimer’s disease research, we have been excited by many drugs over the years, only to have our hopes dashed in clinical trials. I will be following this research group and the research around sildenafil closely.”