Prostate cancer & men’s health


In this episode, I cover this week’s big research stories: The paleo meta-analysis, and the low fat Vs high fat meta-analysis research papers.  Here is a great review of the paleo meta-analysis.

Associate Professor Anthony Lowe, chief executive officer from Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, joins me on the show to talk to us about prostate cancer.  I cover more on men’s health, in particular testicular cancer and general health. I also play my latest Periscope segment, on why it’s important to have self-compassion, if you want to lose weight.

Check out this episode!


Whats in the news

00:02:15- Gabby

  • 2 studies came out recently that caused controversy.
  • First was a Paleo meta-analysis: a systematic review of four different Paleo research papers. Came up with the conclusion that the Paleo diet is better for you than any other diet. They have to match the research papers when undertaking a meta-analysis.
  • These studies weren’t matched well! They all had different time frames that people were following the diets for and the Paleo wasn’t well controlled i.e. there was no definition of how the Paleo diet was followed in the papers or what foods they were eating.
  • The health status of the people involved in the studies in the different papers was different and people were on medications that were not taken into account.
  • They were reporting weight changes over time and in blood work. Different calorie consumption in the studies and people on the Paleo diet were consuming fewer calories. Therefore it’s hard to compare the groups!
  • When you lose weight your blood markers will change regardless of the diet that you follow.
  • Using four studies (with one author being the Paleo founder; therefore conflict of interest) it’s not a good meta-analysis; most use 30 or 40 studies to pull out data.
  • It shows how health science can be fudged in the literature!
  • Another study came out looking at the effect of total fat intake on body weight. Meta-analysis that used randomised controlled trials- used 32 different studies and 54,000 participants.
  • Trials looked at people who ate low fat diets vs. people who ate higher fat diets. They were just trying to do weight maintenance and see if anything changed in their health
  • Found that people in the lower fat intake actually showed stable weight and some reduced body fatness and reduced weight than people on the higher fat diet.
  • Higher fat intake is probably not the best idea and a moderate intake of fat may be better for health.
  • Results show that the low fat traditional way of eating is not out-dated and it still works.
  • However we shouldn’t be talking about individual nutrients like this anyway. Nutrition has moved on from blaming single nutrients, as it doesn’t help to give a good overview of what someone actually eats. Someone can have a low fat diet and eat healthily but could also follow a low fat diet and be unhealthy e.g. just eating cereal and fruit juice. There’s a big difference!
  • Someone can have a healthy diet that’s higher in fat and still be healthy compared to someone eating a high fat diet from sources such as butter, processed food etc.
  • Key message: eat more vegetable, include some fruit in your diet, make sure you’re eating in line with your energy goals, choose leaner proteins and choose wholegrains. Don’t cut out food groups!

Prostate cancer awareness 

00:12:40- Prof Anthony Lowe

  • Role of prostate cancer foundation of Australia: peak national body for prostate cancer in Australia, support research program into prostate cancer, produce information leaflets and researchers for men recently diagnosed, they have a network of nurses who provide support and they also have a network of support groups providing support for men and their families with prostate cancer.
  • There are about 20,000 Australian men diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and 3300 men die of prostate cancer every year.
  • Estimated that 200,000 Australian men are living with prostate cancer.
  • More men diagnosed and dying of prostate cancer than women diagnosed with and dying of breast cancer.
  • What age should men be getting checked: disease of aging, men over 50 should talk to doctor about being checked or over 40 if you have a family history of prostate cancer.
  • Family history is a risk factor for prostate cancer, especially if a father or brother was diagnosed under age 65.
  • How can someone reduce their risk: there isn’t very much to reduce risk but do recommend balanced diet, moderate alcohol consumption and regular exercise.
  • The Big Aussie barbeque: asking Australian’s to encourage guests of their barbeque to make a donation to the prostate foundation of Australia and to raise awareness of men over 50 to get checked.

Men’s health

00:17:47- Gabby 

  • Men’s health is often overlooked. Men find it difficult to talk about these things so we need to give men the space to talk about health issues and raise awareness around these issues.
  • Average life expectancy of Australian men is almost five years less than women. Certain health conditions affect men earlier than women.
  • 1 in 8 (1.3 million) Australian men experience depression at any given time. Society has a stigma about men who show emotions or are seen as weaker if they have mental health issues- not helpful to anyone! We need to let men talk about these things and listen to them.
  • 1 in 2 Australian men will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.
  • Nearly two thirds of Australian population is overweight with men likely to be more overweight or obese than women.
  • Women always think they’re heavier than what they are, men never believe they’re overweight or obese; in denial!
  • Every hour more than four men die of potentially preventable conditions in Australia. There are a lot of things we can change with our health including preventing hospitalisation and death from early intervention.
  • Give men an opportunity to talk to you about their health and ask them what their call of action will be.
  • Men are less likely than women to seek help for health concerns and health care services.
  • 72% of participants on Get Healthy service were female, or female talking on behalf of their partners. Even though services are provided to men they don’t necessarily utilise them.
  • Testicular cancer: second most common cancer after skin cancer in young men (between 18-39 years old).
  • In 2010: 706 new cases of testicular cancer diagnosed in Australia.
  • Rare in non-Caucasian populations worldwide.
  • Condition has grown 50% over past few years.
  • 5-year survival rate of 97% for testicular cancer.
  • Starts at abnormal growth or tumour on one side of the testes (part of male reproduction and responsible for testosterone and sperm production).
  • Testicular cancer: may experience dull ache in testes, small hard lump with swelling or change in consistency in testicle.
  • Majority of cases, only one testes is affected.
  • Men, regardless of age, should see doctor immediately if they find any abnormality in their testes.
  • Highly treatable form of cancer, 95% success rate if found and treated early.
  • There needs to be a lot more done in improving the lives of men post-treatment.
  • Often the forgotten cancer, not that much advocacy for it.
  • More needs to be done to improve lives of men who need second line treatment, when the first treatment was unsuccessful. It’s a burden on the male and they need support.
  • More than 90% of testicular cancers develop in the germ cells, which are responsible for the production of sperm.
  • Men between 18-40 years have highest risk. Causes are unknown but some factors that may be a risk are: family history, undescended testes at birth and Down syndrome.
  • Not related to injury of testes or tight clothing.
  • Treatment: chemotherapy, radiotherapy or removal of testes.
  • Early detection is key!
  • What you can do: maintain a good diet, take early action when you think something isn’t right and have a blood test (especially overweight or obese- have one every 6months-1 year). Watch cholesterol, blood sugar levels, weight (most adults above the age of 30 gain 1 kilo/year), waistline (men have apple shape: hold more weight around the trunk. Men should be below 100cm around the waist), know about your family history as genes affect health, don’t smoke and reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Manage your stress; now looked at in relation to inflammatory conditions and heart disease risk. Do things such as take a break, hypnotherapy, mediation, and exercise, eat right or re-evaluate your lifestyle so it’s easier to manage.

How self-compassion can help you lose weight

00:35:47- Gabby

  • Self-compassion= art of being kind to yourself. During times of perceived inadequacy, failure or suffering.
  • Self-kindness, mindfulness and common humanity.
  • When we’re mean to ourselves it’s hard to make good decisions about the food we eat.
  • If you had a friend who talked badly to you, you wouldn’t be friends with them anymore! It works the same as when you’re mean to yourself- it leads to poor eating, binging and not exercising because you feel poorly.
  • Don’t judge yourself for the choices of food that you make. Everyone eats bad food every now and again and that’s fine! Eating doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to get weight loss results or for good health.
  • Get rid of the scales! You can weigh in once per month but don’t weigh in daily!
  • For emotional eaters or people who have low self-esteem, weighing in does the reverse and if they see the number on the scale go up it causes them to eat more and if the number goes down they celebrate and eat more anyway. Just concentrate on what’s happening internally.
  • Forgive yourself when you don’t make the best food choices. Keep it in context- birthday cake isn’t a bad choice it’s birthday cake! Say “It’s ok, eating cake/chocolate/biscuits etc. wasn’t the healthiest choice but next time I’ll try again.”
  • Identify why you made that choice in the first place and then decide what you will do next time.
  • Weight loss is a journey- it’s not something that will happen quickly. It should be about weight maintenance and working towards this lifestyle for our whole life- there is no quick fix that will work in the long-term!
  • Come up with positive affirmations or listen to music that will snap you back to a better train of thought e.g. I am healthy and fit and life is good. Say something like this when you’ve eaten something that you’re feeling guilty or bad about.
  • For weight loss you need to be self-compassionate; you don’t need to yell at yourself or feel guilty because it will make you want to do the not so great behaviours (e.g. eating chocolate) more because they make you feel better.
  • Being self-compassionate will also help with weight maintenance for the rest of your life!

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