Testosterone and CVD, smoking and fat, BMI, alcohol heart benefits, weight training with caffeine

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

…low testosterone levels were a major risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)? It's common knowledge that a man's testosterone levels decrease as he ages. It also is common knowledge that CVD risk increases with age. However, most people, including most doctors, do not know the relationship between low testosterone levels and CVD. Researchers have shown that men with CVD have significantly lower levels of androgenic hormones; however the relationship between the two. Still is unclear.

Researchers used 206 males from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Their androgenic hormone levels were measured for 33 years. The study hypothesized that androgenic hormones prevent CVD by reducing arterial stiffness. An increase in arterial stiffness is recognized as an early risk factor for CVD. An increase in the stiffness of larger arteries leads to a rise in systolic blood pressure, which causes left ventricular hypertrophy. Researchers found as testosterone declined with age, arterial stiffness increased. (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab., Sept. 2005.)

Eggs…smokers have lower BMI (body mass index) than nonsmokers? Researchers from the University of Cambridge in Great Britain analyzed data from 21,828 men and women between the ages of 45 and 79. They found waist-hip ratios to be the highest among current smokers and the least among never smokers. Current smokers had higher waist circumference but lower hip circumference compared with nonsmokers. Although smokers have a lower BMI (less overall fat), they have a more metabolically adverse fat distribution around their abdomen. Increased abdominal fat is linked to increased risk of heart disease, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. This cluster of symptoms tends to occur together and is known as the Metabolic Syndrome. (Canoy, Dexter., et al. "Cigarette Smoking and Fat Distribution in 21828 British Men and Women: A Population-Based Study." Obesity Research, 2005; 13:1466-1475)

…alcohol may protect seniors from heart failure? The Cardiovascular Health Study documented the medical history and alcohol consumption of almost 5600 senior citizens for seven to 10 years. Compared to those who drank no alcohol at all, seniors who drank 7 – 13 drinks per week had a 30% lower risk of heart failure or dying from cardiovascular disease. Those who drank 1 – 6 drinks per week lowered their risk by 16%. Before you start thinking the more the better, the seniors who drank 14 or more drinks per week did not lower their risk. A drink was defined by researchers as, "a 12-ounce beer, a 6-ounce glass of wine, or an ounce of hard liquor." Scientists hypothesize alcohol is beneficial to the heart because of its vasodialating properties. ("Alcohol may protect seniors from heart failure." Newsmax.com Health Alerts)

Eggs…Americans are fatter than ever? Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer. Type 2 diabetes is an out of control epidemic. And your odds of boarding a plane and sitting next to a really fat person who has to stuff themselves in the seat are increasing exponentially. For more than four decades, we have been told to cut back on the amount of fat, mainly saturated fat, we consume. As a country we have cut our overall fat intake by 21% since 1910. However, vegetable oil consumption has increased 437%. If reducing our fat intake was the correct thing to do, why have we progressively gotten fatter and unhealthier as a nation? Could it be it's not the amount of fat but the type of fat? (Fat, Cholesterol and the Lipid Hypothesis)

…caffeine is a good training aid because it allows you to train longer without getting fatigued? Researchers at York University in Toronto found in a double-blind study of 10 subjects that caffeine increased the time to fatigue during sub maximal contractions. The increase in time to fatigue can be partially explained by caffeine's ability to sustain calcium release in the muscle cells. Calcium plays an integral role in the quality of muscular contractions. (J Appl Physiol, 2005; 99: 1056-1063)

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