Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Testosterone For Anti-Aging In Men: A Medical Fraud?

On the car radio, I have several times happened upon “infomercial” programs touting the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy for men, broadcast by doctors who specialize in prescribing the drugs. They have lots of wonderful stories about men who feel younger, happier, and more vigorous because of their macho remedies. It’s a tribute to the power of the placebo.

I have been reviewing John Brinkley’s goat gland scam for a presentation on medical frauds. In an era before the isolation of the hormone testosterone, Brinkley transplanted goat testes into human scrotums in an attempt to treat impotence and aging. We are more sophisticated today — but not much. Longevity clinics and individual practitioners are offering testosterone to men as a general pick-me-up and anti-aging treatment. Their practice is not supported by the scientific evidence. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

An Important Tip For Men Who Use Viagra

The medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings recently contained some clinical pearls that I wanted to pass on to my men readers who take medication for erectile dysfunction (ED). They reported on a healthy 67-year-old male who took two 25mg doses of Viagra (sildenafil) but still did not get erections. He was frustrated and inquired about other treatments for ED.

The article reported that patients often take Viagra and other phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (Cialis, Levitra) incorrectly. To be effective, Viagra must be taken on an empty stomach at least one hour before intercourse. Research has shown that approximately half of patients who don’t respond to Viagra will have success when they take it properly. The dose can go up to 100mg, but there is no need to increase the medication until the patient learns how to take it.

So there you have it. Take it on an empty stomach at least one hour before sex.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Preventive Health In HD: A Video Just For Men

Check out this darkly humorous advertising campaign from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How do you convince men to go to the doctor and get the preventive healthcare that’s known to save lives?  You make it all about television. Men + HD TV = “Yes.” This video is funny on so many levels.

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

The Male Menopause Story: Journalists All Over The Map

An article on the Knight Science Journalism Tracker comments on German media coverage of the “Is there male menopause?” question. An excerpt:

One study, but very different types of headlines: “‘Male Menopause’ discovered” and “Men have no Menopause.” Both types of headlines are based on one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which analyzed 3219 European males between 40 and 79. Blood samples provided testosterone levels and questionnaires (!) asked about the “general, sexual, physical, and psychological health.”

What the scientists found was nothing more and nothing less than a correlation between a low testosterone level and three clinical symptoms (“decreased frequency of morning erection, decreased frequency of sexual thoughts, and erectile dysfunction”). So, one could call it an age-related testosterone deficiency, affecting only a minority (about 2%) of elderly men.

But one shouldn’t name it “andropause” or “male menopause” — and the scientists themselves did NOT use the term in the whole article — because this term immediately suggests a relation to menopause, which is a completely different and natural developmental phenomenon for every woman above the age of 50. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

PSA Screening Not Recommended: NY Daily News Still Doesn’t Care

Headlines every day in the New York Daily News are luring men in as part of a mass prostate cancer screening campaign that the American Cancer Society not only does not endorse, but its chief medical officer recommends against. Yet the paper brags that it’s beginning its second decade of this non-evidence-based campaign. Sample headlines:

• Doctors urge New York men to take advantage of free, city-wide PSA testing

• What you don’t know can kill you. Get a FREE prostate cancer test. It can save your life

• Bring dad in for FREE prostate cancer test across the city on Father’s Day

and

• Don’t skip the PSA test! My prostate cancer is treatable because simple test caught it early (written by a Daily News staffer). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »