The week of June 14 th is National Men's Health week. With Father's day around the corner, this is a fitting time to focus on natural approaches to men's health and wellness.
According to current literature reports, on average, men die almost six years earlier than women. In 1920, the life expectancy gap between men and women was just one year. An alarming trend in recent years is that men develop chronic diseases earlier in life, and have a higher death rate for each of the top ten leading causes of death viz. heart disease, cancer, stroke and cerebrovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, accidents and adverse effects, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes and its complications, suicide, kidney disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, in that order. 1
In the past, there has been a lot of focus in the media, and by government agencies on women's health issues,. Only recently has the need for attention to men's health issues been realized. The US Department of Health and Human Services established the Office of Women's Health in 1999. However, a similar initiative for men's health was proposed only in 2003, by way of the Men's Health Act.
Judicious lifestyle and diet management supported by nutritional approaches such as supplemental vitamins, essential minerals and antioxidants, offer preventive measures against heart disease, stroke and cerebrovascular diseases. Several natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents are reported to be beneficial in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular events and stroke, as evidenced by published clinical studies. Recent studies on animal models suggest that natural antioxidants such as curcumin, have potentially neuroprotective effects in cerebral ischemia.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among men in the US , most commonly in men age 65 and older. Natural approaches, such as the carotenoid lycopene (found in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit), green tea catechins, vitamin E and the trace mineral nutrient selenium are reported to have protective effects against prostate cancer. Selenium SeLECT™ , Sabinsa's branded L-Selenomethionine, is being used in SELECT (The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial) This trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, is the largest ever prostate cancer prevention clinical trial, with 32,000 subjects. and seeks to study the health benefits of Selenium (as Selenomethionine) and vitamin E, in preventing prostate cancer.
Prostate enlargement is called "benign prostatic hypertrophy" (BPH) and is not cancer. Its incidence increases with age. 90% of men age 80 and over have an enlarged prostate. 3 Natural approaches to maintaining prostate health include herbal extracts such as saw palmetto and vitamin and mineral supplements. Adjunct herbal supplements such as Cratavin® ( Crataeva nurvula (Varuna) extract) support healthy kidney functions and alleviate discomfort arising from incomplete emptying of the bladder.
Maintaining optimal body weight /composition, adequate vitamin and mineral intake and antioxidant /immune support are effective approaches to preventing age-related chronic diseases. For example, obese individuals tend to be insulin resistant and are at increased risk for the development of cardiovascular diseases. By age 65 or 70, men and women lose bone mass at similar rates, calcium absorption decreases, and currently, more than 2 million men in the US have osteoporosis and another 3 million are at risk for the disease. 1 With regard to mental/psychological health, selenium supplementation is reported to improve mood and depressive states in subjects showing sub-optimal serum levels of the trace element. Selenium, zinc and adaptogenic herbs are known to enhance immune functions.
Contact Sabinsa Corporation for information on nutraceutical and cosmeceutical ingredients that can be added to formulations that support men's health and wellness.
1. Food Technology, 2003 Nov.; 57(11):63-66.
2. Life Sci. 2004 Jan 9;74(8):969-85.
3. Nutrition Notes, American Institute of Cancer Research. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5077569/ accessed 6/15/04 .