Posts Tagged ‘low testosterone’

WebMD (10/8, Boyles, http://tinyurl.com/lowt-alzheimers) reported that low testosterone levels in older men with memory problems may signal progression to Alzheimer’s disease or increase the risk for developing age-related dementia.  In a newly published study, older Chinese men with early memory declines who did not yet have Alzheimer’s were far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s over a year of follow-up if they had low testosterone.  The study was small, but the findings suggest low testosterone may be an independent risk factor for rapid cognitive decline in older men with early memory loss, according to Saint Louis University Medical Center professor of gerontology John Morley, MD .  All the men underwent testing to assess memory function at enrollment, and 47 were determined to have evidence of mild cognitive impairment.  Over the course of the next year, 10 men received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.   All were in the previously identified group with early memory declines and all had low levels of free testosterone in blood samples.  While the research suggests a role for testosterone in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, study researcher Scott Moffat, PhD, says it is too soon to recommend testosterone treatment for men at risk for cognitive decline. “It is not really clear if testosterone is protecting the men in these studies or if levels are reflective of some other factor, such as overall better health,” he tells WebMD.


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According to a recent New York Times article (12/8, D6 http://tinyurl.com/depressed-dads) up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression.  But it turns out that men can also have postpartum depression.  4 percent of fathers have clinically significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the birth of their children.  A 2006 study on marmoset monkeys, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reported that new fathers experienced a rapid increase in receptors for the hormone vasopressin in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Along with other hormones, vasopressin is involved in parental behavior in animals, and it is known that the same brain area in humans is activated when parents are shown pictures of their children.  There is also some evidence that testosterone levels tend to drop in men during their partner’s pregnancy, perhaps to make expectant fathers less aggressive and more likely to bond with their newborns.  Given the known association between depression and low testosterone in middle-aged men, it is possible that this might also put some men at risk of postpartum depression.  By far the strongest predictor of paternal postpartum depression is having a depressed partner.  In one study, fathers whose partners were also depressed were at nearly two and a half times the normal risk for depression.

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