Androstenedione is one of those supplements that was peddled to athletes for years as a quick path to bulging muscles and high testosterone levels, but it comes with some serious side effects. Also known as “andro,” the dietary supplement was once touted to enhance athletic performance by stimulating muscle growth and boosting testosterone levels. But once it enters the body, it acts like a steroid and can pose similar health risks. In October 2004, President George Bush signed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, which reclassified androstenedione from a supplement to an anabolic steroid, making it and other steroid-based drugs a controlled substance. They are currently banned in sports. This was because a small number of studies of androstenedione led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to believe that its use may increase the risk of serious health problems because of its conversion in the body to the hormones testosterone and a particular form of estrogen. While over-the-counter androstenedione supplements are now banned, doctors can still prescribe it for medical purposes. According to a study published online recently in the journal Molecules, doctors can offer androstenedione shots for preventing or treating certain chronic diseases. Side effects of andro According to the Mayo Clinic, long-term use of androstenedione supplements by men can result in testicular atrophy, impotence and the development of female characteristics such as breast enlargement.…  read on >  read on >

Chronic tendon issues are a frequent source of pain and can limit activity. They become more common with age, weight and certain activities, and early and appropriate diagnosis by a doctor is critical to get the best outcomes. The Achilles tendon is the biggest tendon in the human body. It connects the calf to the foot, and it is responsible for push-off power. The tendon is critical for stability during standing, walking, running and other activities. During muscle contraction, the tendon functions as a rope. It has elasticity to generate the tension required to handle the force of six times a person’s body weight. What is Achilles tendinitis? Over time, the tendon can become strained, injured or inflamed. On a day-to-day basis, people put stress on their Achilles tendon. A healthy tendon will handle this stress, repair any “microtears,” and a patient will have no symptoms. But over time, for various reasons, the Achilles tendon will develop inflammation and microtearing that will outpace the body’s ability to repair and heal the damage, and the patient will develop symptoms including pain, discomfort, soreness and swelling. This is Achilles tendinitis, and I often treat such cases here at Yale Medicine Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation. In reality, Achilles tendinitis is not just inflammation of the tendon, as the name implies. Achilles tendinitis is the accumulation of degenerative changes in…  read on >  read on >

Cancer patients have a lot to think about, but adding one more thing — lacing up their sneakers — may pay off. Two new studies suggest engaging in light or moderate exercise increases the number of cancer-destroying immune cells. At the same time, exercise reduces the side effects of cancer treatments, improves quality of life, improves prognosis and decreases cancer risk, said the Scandinavian researchers. “It was previously thought that cancer patients should just rest after a cancer diagnosis. Today, we have more and more researched information that exercise can even improve the prognosis of cancer. However, it is not yet fully known how exercise controls cancer,” explained co-author Tiia Koivula, from the University of Turku in Finland. Past preclinical studies found exercise affected the functioning of the immune system, leading to more immune cells going to the tumor site and becoming more active in destroying cancer cells. This new research looked at the impact of a short bout of exercise. Researchers found that only 10 minutes of exercise was enough to have an impact. Exercising harder was even better, with more immune cells transferred to the bloodstream. “Although our results indicate that the higher the exercise intensity is, the more immune cells are transferred from their storage organs into the bloodstream, it is notable that also light or moderate intensity exercise lasting for only…  read on >  read on >

Hundreds of thousands of people are jumping on the Ozempic bandwagon and taking prescription medications to slim down, while others swear by intermittent fasting and other diet fads, but new research shows that they’re all likely barking up the wrong trees. There isn’t any shortcut or magic bullet to losing weight, keeping it off, and improving your health, a new study of more than 20,000 people affirms. “Most adults slowly gain weight over decades of their life but turn to drastic, often dangerous, means to decrease body weight,” said study author Colleen Spees, an associate professor of medical dietetics at Ohio State University in Columbus. “Indeed, non-evidence-based diet practices are on the rise in large part due to social media influencers and popular actors.” Take the craze surrounding the injectable type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic, she said. “Although it is not U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved for weight loss, individuals without diabetes are now taking Ozempic in hopes of rapid weight loss,” Spees said. Does it work? Yes, at least in the short term, she said. “Once individuals discontinue the use of this medication, their appetite returns along with the weight they lost while using it,” Spees added. For the study, researchers compared behaviors of more than 20,300 U.S. adults who were part of a national health and nutrition survey from 2007 to 2016. They…  read on >  read on >

Physical activity after a stroke may be crucial to a more successful recovery, according to a study by Swedish researchers. They found that patients who increased and sustained their exercise in the six months after their stroke were functioning better than those who didn’t. “People who have experienced a stroke can gain functional benefits by increasing physical activity, regardless of stroke severity,” said lead researcher Dr. Dongni Buvarp of the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Gothenburg. Men and patients with normal mental abilities were more likely to maintain a steady exercise regimen, regardless of the severity of their stroke, the study found. These findings may spur ways to target people whose physical activity drops in the wake of a stroke, Buvarp said. “This would allow an improvement of functional outcome after stroke,” she said. At least four hours a week of light exercise is the ideal to shoot for after a stroke, Buvarp said. Activities can include riding a bike or walking, gardening, fishing, table tennis or bowling, she suggested. “Engaging in physical activity can enhance both brain and body capacity to aid in stroke recovery,” Buvarp said. “Physical activity promotes brain plasticity and also improves recovery at the cellular level.” She noted that an active lifestyle can boost stroke patients’ mobility and reduce their risk of falls, depression and heart…  read on >  read on >

Patients who’ve had surgery should ease back into movement and exercise. These efforts may be small, but they’re better than nothing, according to one surgeon who emphasized the importance of listening to your body. “The most important thing is patient comfort. After surgery, there is often this apprehension of, ‘If I move or do something, I will hurt or damage the area where I had surgery,’” said Dr. Adil Ahmed, an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “We must counsel patients pre-op and post-op, telling them what is safe to do in terms of physical activity because they should be mobile.” Start by doing small tasks after surgery. For shoulder replacement patients in a sling and with limited mobility for four weeks, move your fingers, open and close your hands, squeeze a stress ball and flex and extend the wrist and elbow, Ahmed suggested. This can keep the joints from getting stiff and prevent swelling. “In those first four weeks, you’re doing very gentle, rotational motions because you want everything to heal, and then you progress in therapy and remove those restrictions,” he said in a Baylor news release. “Once your motion begins to improve, you begin strengthening.” If your arm is in a sling, just focus on getting out of bed on your own, going…  read on >  read on >

Exercise might help people who are battling addiction stay on the straight and narrow, a new research review finds. Investigators who analyzed 43 studies from around the world found a link between physical activity and reduced substance use among people in treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. The idea for the study review “came to me when I was working as a kinesiologist in a therapy house for people with substance use disorders, and realized that physical health was not considered at all in these treatments, although the need was enormous,” explained study lead author Florence Piché. She is a doctoral candidate in sciences and physical activity at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières and the University of Montreal, in Canada. “We can assume that the mechanisms are multiple and multifactorial,” Piché said of the findings. The amount of exercise involved wasn’t overwhelming. Most of the studies focused on the potential benefit of “moderately intense” activity, conducted for about an hour three times a week over the course of approximately three months. Would more exercise confer greater benefits? Piché noted that none of the studies assessed that. Collectively, the studies included just over 3,100 participants. They looked at the relationship between exercise and the risk of using heroin, opioids, cocaine and crack cocaine, methadone, marijuana, alcohol or methamphetamines. None involved cigarette smoking. Half of the…  read on >  read on >

Walking your dog gets you moving and out in the fresh air, but head injuries and fractures are very real possibilities, especially for older dog owners, researchers say. The most common injury from walking a leashed dog that sends folks to the ER is fractured fingers, a new study from Johns Hopkins University found. But traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the second-most common injury adults suffer while walking a leashed dog. The third most common injury is shoulder sprain or strain. “According to a 2021-2022 national pet ownership survey, nearly 53% of U.S. households own at least one dog,” said study co-author Ridge Maxson, a third-year medical student. “Dog ownership also increased significantly in recent years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although dog walking is a common daily activity for many adults, few studies have characterized its injury burden. We saw a need for more comprehensive information about these kinds of incidents,” Maxson said in a university news release. Women and all adults age 65 and older are more likely than others to sustain serious injuries, the research team found. Researchers hope doctors will discuss these potential threats with their dog-loving patients. “Clinicians should be aware of these risks and convey them to patients, especially women and older adults,” said co-author Dr. Edward McFarland, director of the division of shoulder and elbow surgery at Johns Hopkins…  read on >  read on >

Could golfing be good medicine for arthritis? Yes, according to researchers who found that for people with osteoarthritis, golfing lowered psychological distress and improved general health when compared with the general population. “Golf is a health-enhancing source of physical activity, particularly for older adults,” said lead researcher Brad Stenner, an occupational therapist at the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity at the University of South Australia, in Adelaide. “Golf is fun, affordable and a sport for life, with clear physical and mental health benefits.” For people with osteoarthritis (often called the “wear and tear” form of arthritis), golf helps maintain joint range of motion, strength and endurance, and contributes to mental health and well-being. Playing golf is also associated with lower levels of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, Stenner said. “We found that golfers both with and without osteoarthritis had higher quality of life and, significantly, lower levels of psychological distress, which is an indicator of anxiety and depression,” he noted. “Golf appears to help improve well-being via a number of factors, including exercise, community, friendship and a sense of belonging.” Many people with arthritis stop playing sports altogether, but the impact of arthritis on playing golf is unknown, Stenner said. “Our study looked at benefits for those with arthritis, not factors that may be barriers. It would appear…  read on >  read on >

When exercise studies are led by men, female participants are often in short supply. While this underrepresentation of female research subjects has been documented in everything from clinical trials to cell cultures, a new study links researchers’ gender and women’s participation. “Our findings provide direct evidence of the link between gender of authors and gender of research participants,” said lead study author Jessica Linde, a doctoral candidate at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Having too few women participating results in gaps in understanding how certain interventions work in females. For this study, researchers analyzed 971 original research articles in three major journals that focus on exercise physiology, zeroing in on studies published in 1991 and in 2021. They found that in 1991, 51% of the papers were written by all-male teams. That was also true of about 18% of papers in 2021. All female-research teams also declined over the period, from 1.8% in 1991 to 1.1% in 2021. While the number of women participating in exercise studies rose over the years, they represented just one-third of study participants in 2021. The number of female participants was lower in both years when the study leader (or last author) was a man. In 2021, Linde said, when studies were led by a woman, they included equal numbers of men and women as participants. More women in other leadership…  read on >  read on >