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Testosterone is the hormone that gives men their manliness. Produced by the testicles, it is responsible for male characteristics like a deep voice, muscular build, and facial hair. Testosterone also fosters the production of red blood cells, boosts mood, keeps bones strong, and aids thinking ability.
Testosterone levels peak by early adulthood and drop as you age—about 1% to 2% a year beginning in the 40s. As men reach their 50s and beyond, this may lead to signs and symptoms, such as impotence or changes in sexual desire, depression or anxiety, reduced muscle mass, less energy, weight gain, anemia, and hot flashes. While falling testosterone levels are a normal part of aging, certain conditions can hasten the decline. These include:
injury or infection
chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer
medications, especially hormones used to treat prostate cancer and corticosteroid drugs
Millions of men use testosterone therapy to restore low levels and feel more alert, energetic, mentally sharp, and sexually functional. But it's not that simple. A man's general health also affects his testosterone levels. For instance, being overweight, having diabetes or thyroid problems, and taking certain medications, such as glucocorticoids and other steroids, can affect levels. Therefore, simply having low levels does not always call for taking extra testosterone.
Diagnosing low testosterone
Doctors diagnose low testosterone based on a physical exam, a review of symptoms, and the results of multiple blood tests since levels can fluctuate daily.
If your doctor diagnoses low testosterone, other tests may be considered before therapy. For example, low testosterone can speed bone loss, so your doctor may recommend a bone density test to see whether you also need treatment for osteoporosis.
Prostate cancer is another concern, as testosterone can fuel its growth. The Endocrine Society recommends against testosterone supplementation in men who have prostate cancer, have a prostate nodule that can be felt during a digital rectal exam, or have an abnormal PSA level (higher than 4 ng/ml for men at average risk for prostate cancer, and higher than 3 ng/ml for those at high risk).
Because testosterone therapy may also worsen other conditions, it is not recommended for men with heart failure, untreated sleep apnea, or severe urinary difficulties.
Testosterone therapy for low levels
In most cases, men need to have both low levels of testosterone in their blood (less than 300 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter) and several symptoms of low testosterone to go on therapy.
It is possible to have low levels and not experience symptoms. But if you do not have any key symptoms, especially fatigue and sexual dysfunction, which are the most common, it is not recommended you go on the therapy given the uncertainty about long-term safety.
Even if your levels are low and you have symptoms, therapy is not always the first course of action. If your doctor can identify the source for declining levels—for instance, weight gain or certain medication—he or she may first address that problem.
If you and your doctor think testosterone therapy is right for you, there are a variety of delivery methods to consider, as found in the Harvard Special Health Report Men's Health: Fifty and Forward.
Skin patch. A patch is applied once every 24 hours, in the evening, and releases small amounts of the hormone into the skin.
Gels. Topical gels are spread daily onto the skin over both upper arms, shoulders, or thighs. It is important to wash your hands after applying and to cover the treated area with clothing to prevent exposing others to testosterone.
Mouth tablet. Tablets are attached to your gum or inner cheek twice a day. Testosterone is then absorbed into the bloodstream.
Pellets. These are implanted under the skin, usually around the hips or buttocks, and slowly release testosterone. They are replaced every three to six months.
Injections. Various formulations are injected every seven to 14 days. Testosterone levels can rise to high levels for a few days after the injection and then slowly come down, which can cause a roller-coaster effect, where mood and energy levels spike before trailing off.
Butea superba, a Thai herbal
Most men feel improvement in symptoms within four to six weeks of taking testosterone therapy, although changes like increases in muscle mass may take from three to six months.
LSD is to be given to treat people with depression in a trial that anti-drug campaigners warn is a dangerous experiment that will ‘play with their minds’.
Leading the research into the benefits of what she calls a ‘wonder drug’ is Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and March – nicknamed the ‘Cannabis Countess’ for her advocacy of legalisation.
The £300,000 experiment is being conducted by the organisation she founded, the Beckley Foundation, under the supervision of Professor David Nutt, who was sacked from his post as a government adviser in 2009 after claims that he was trivialising the dangers of drugs.
LSD is a hallucinogen that has been linked to suicide and mental health problems and possession of the class-A substance is an imprisonable offence.
However, researchers plan to obtain a medical licence allowing them to administer the drug to 20 volunteers in the study, for which the foundation is raising money through crowdfunding.
It will be the first time in the UK that researchers have investigated whether taking small amounts of LSD regularly – so-called ‘microdosing’ – can alleviate depression.
But David Raynes, spokesman for the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: ‘Both Prof Nutt and the countess are extreme pro-drug campaigners and we should be suspicious of their motives.
‘They have both admitted to taking drugs and seek to normalise use. A lot of people have had severe side effects from LSD and it is playing with people’s minds.’
The volunteers will be given doses on four occasions and fill in surveys recording whether the drug lifts their mood. They will also play Japanese strategy board game Go to see if the drug improves their performance and MRI scans of their brains will be taken.
The results will be compared with how well the volunteers perform after a placebo dose.
The countess, 74, said: ‘There are studies that show LSD is a wonder drug for curing all sorts of things.
‘We will not be giving people such large doses that they hallucinate but enough to give them a lift. I took it in the 1960s when it was legal and it improved my wellbeing.
‘If this small trial is successful, then we will consider applying to the Government for more funding to run a larger experiment.’
Last year, the Beckley Foundation and Imperial College published the results of a Government-funded study on volunteers using the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, to explore whether it could cure depression. Researchers said two thirds of volunteers were cured of depression for a week after the tests.
The foundation hopes to start the LSD research next year.
95 percent of the victims of work accidents are men. Because women are cowards, and just want to rule from behind.
British police have said they believe they have evidence linking Britain’s last unmarried prime minister to alleged victims of pedophilia.
Sir Edward Heath, a Conservative, led the UK between 1970 and 1974. He died aged 89 in 2005.
Since 2015 Wiltshire Police has been investigating claims linking him to sexual abuse. This weekend in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Wiltshire’s chief constable, Mike Veale, said he believed the allegations against Heath (pictured with Richard Nixon) were “120 per cent genuine”.
A report by Wiltshire Police, scheduled for publication later this year, will apparently highlight photographs of Heath driving a car as key evidence against him. The photograph conflicts with Heath’s supporters’ claims that Heath was driven everywhere by police protection officers and never took the wheel himself.
More than 30 alleged victims have apparently contacted Wiltshire Police with claims of abuse involving Heath said to have been carried out between the 1960s and 1990s. A source close to the investigation said that “strikingly similar” allegations made against Heath include the names used for the former politician, the type of abuse and the locations.
Officers have obtained copies of photographs showing Heath behind the wheel of a Rover 2000 car which he bought in the mid-1970s after leaving office. They were reported to have been doubtful about the allegations at first but apparently “now believe them”.
One alleged victim claims he was abused by Heath after being picked up while hitch-hiking.
The investigation into Heath involves a team of seven officers and eleven police staff. It has so far cost £700,000 ($875,000).
In a statement released last night Chief Constable Mike Veale said: “It is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our criminal justice system. Our role is to objectively and proportionately go where the evidence takes us.”
The investigation is also considering claims that the abuse allegations against Heath were reported to the police years ago but covered up by the British Establishment.
The allegations against Heath have been dismissed by a former aide to another ex-prime minister, Harold Wilson, who urged the police to end their “witch-hunt”. Joe Haines, who was press secretary to Wilson from 1969 to 1976, said he was better placed than most to know if Heath was a “sexual deviant”.
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