A new study has suggested that following a Western diet – high in red and processed meats, refined grains and high-fat dairy products – could increase the risk of death for people with prostate cancer from both prostate cancer and all causes.

The Western diet is characterized by higher intake of processed and red meats, high-fat dairy and refined grains.

The study, published in Cancer Prevention Research, was conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and investigated the diets of 926 men diagnosed with prostate cancer for an average of 14 years after their diagnosis.

“There is currently very little evidence to counsel men living with prostate cancer on how they can modify their lifestyle to improve survival. Our results suggest that a heart-healthy diet may benefit these men by specifically reducing their chances of dying of prostate cancer,” says senior author Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School.

According to the authors of the study, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed and second most lethal cancer for men in the US. The American Cancer Society (ACS) state that around 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.

The researchers write that, to date, only one study has evaluated the potential role of dietary patterns after prostate cancer diagnosis, concluding that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was not associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality.

For the study, data were obtained from the Physicians’ Health Study I and II, trials of male physicians aged 40-84 in the US. Participants were sent food-frequency questionnaires to collect information on their diets.

Participants were grouped into quartiles based on whether they followed a Western dietary pattern or a “prudent” dietary pattern, involving a higher consumption of fruit, vegetables, fish, legumes and whole grains.

During the follow-up period, 333 participants died, with 56 of these deaths (17%) attributed to prostate cancer.

How might diet improve survivorship of prostate cancer?

The researchers found that those who ate a predominantly Western diet (those in the highest quartile) were two-and-a-half times more likely to die from prostate cancer and had a 67% increased risk of all-cause mortality compared with participants in the lowest quartile. In comparison, the men who follow a “prudent” diet closely had a 36% lower risk of all-cause mortality.

The researchers noted a number of other characteristics concerning the followers of the two particular diets. Those who scored highest for the “prudent” diet consumed less animal fat and alcohol and were more likely to have never smoked. Men scoring highest for the Western diet tended to be older at prostate cancer diagnosis and had lower intakes of calcium and vitamin D.

Lead author Meng Yang, a research fellow at the Harvard Chan School, states that their results are encouraging though it is important to keep in mind the limitations of the study. All the participants of the study were physicians and the majority of them were white.

“Therefore it is very important that our results are replicated in other studies with more diverse socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds,” says Yang. Additionally, the study does not measure any potential confounders such as the physical activity of the participants and the forms of treatment they were receiving.

Despite these limitations, the authors believe their findings suggest that modifications to diet after prostate cancer diagnosis may influence survival and have a direct clinical impact for patients.

Men are ‘more likely to cheat’ if their wife is the main breadwinner

The more economically dependent one spouse is on the other, the more likely they are to cheat. That is the somewhat unromantic finding of a new study by a researcher at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

Men are three times more likely to cheat if they are not the main breadwinners in a marriage, compared with women.

Published in the American Sociological Review, study author Christin L. Munsch, a University of Connecticut assistant professor of sociology, analyzed 2001-11 data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, taking into account more than 2,750 married people between the ages of 18 and 32.

“You would think that people would not want to ‘bite the hand that feeds them’ so to speak, but that is not what my research shows,” says Munsch.

“Instead,” she says, “the findings indicate that people like feeling relatively equal in their relationships. People don’t like to feel dependent on another person.”

The study reports that there is approximately a 5% chance that women who are entirely financially dependent on their husbands will have an affair, compared with a 15% chance for financially dependent men.

Pondering why men are three times more likely to cheat if they are not the main breadwinners in a marriage, Munsch considers that extramarital sex “allows men undergoing a masculinity threat – that is, not being primary breadwinners, as is culturally expected – to engage in behavior culturally associated with masculinity.”

She continues:

“For men, especially young men, the dominant definition of masculinity is scripted in terms of sexual virility and conquest, particularly with respect to multiple sex partners. Thus, engaging in infidelity may be a way of reestablishing threatened masculinity. Simultaneously, infidelity allows threatened men to distance themselves from, and perhaps punish, their higher-earning spouses.”

Men who earn significantly more than wives ‘also more likely to cheat’

In the study, as the percentage of money that men bring home relative to their spouse increases, the less likely they are to cheat – up to a certain point. That point is identified in the study as being 70% of the combined marital income – men who make more than 70% of the pooled income become increasingly more likely to have affairs

“A husband who earns significantly more than his wife and has an affair – think celebrities, athletes, and politicians – is the type of infidelity that regularly makes front-page news,” argues Munsch, “so I wasn’t surprised to find that men who make a lot more than their wives are more likely to cheat than men in equal-earning relationships or relationships where they make a little bit more than their wives.”

Looking more closely at the differences between how men and women relate to being the main breadwinner, Munsch found another interesting finding – the larger the percentage of the combined marital income women provide, the less likely they are to cheat.

Munsch adds that previous research has found that women who earn more than their husbands are “acutely aware” of how their relationship deviates from cultural expectations. These female breadwinners then suffer from increased anxiety and insomnia, researchers have found, engaging in what sociologists call “deviance neutralization behaviors.”

These behaviors include the higher-earning women actively downplaying their achievements, deferring to their spouses and even increasing their housework in an effort to decrease interpersonal conflict “and shore up their husband’s masculinity.” Munsch believes these tactics are aimed at keeping potentially strained relationships intact.

Study confirms link between sleep apnea and depression in men

New research presented at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference in Denver, CO, reports a link between sleep disorders and depression in men.

The study found that excessive daytime sleepiness and severe obstructive sleep apnea were individually associated with the prevalence and onset of depression – with the combination of both associated with even greater risk.

Previous research has observed an association between sleep apnea and depression. For instance, a 2012 study published in the journal Sleep claimed to be the first nationally representative survey – taking in 9,714 American adults – to examine this relationship. That study found sleep apnea symptoms were associated with probable major depression, regardless of weight, age, sex or race.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia studied 1,875 male participants between the ages of 35 and 83 over a period of 5 years.

The study found that excessive daytime sleepiness and severe obstructive sleep apnea were individually associated with the prevalence and onset of depression – with the combination of both associated with even greater risk.

Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect 1 in 2 men and 1 in 5 women, but up to 82% of cases are undiagnosed, according to the researchers.

Men with an undiagnosed sleep disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness – which is a primary symptom of sleep apnea – were found to be four times more likely to have depression than peers who did not have a sleep disorder. Men with a diagnosed sleep condition, meanwhile, were found to be twice as likely as peers without a sleep disorder to have depression.

“Depression is a serious public health concern and a lot remains unknown about how to effectively treat it in men,” says Dr. Carol Lang, postdoctoral research fellow in the University of Adelaide’s Department of Medicine. “Men are less likely to seek, and more likely to drop out of, treatment for their depression and are four times more likely to die from suicide attempts than females.”

Dr. Lang says that the link between sleep disorders and depression is very strong. She encourages clinicians to examine male patients reporting symptoms of depression for symptoms of sleep disorder and vice versa

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