Living large

As we’ve said what feels like a thousand times now, healthily high testosterone can help us in countless ways. If it has a major calling card though, one thing it’s famous for in the minds of most, that’s probably as the source of some serious muscle mass.

Even if you’re not fussed about gaining a shiny golden god bod, lean mass is about more than just visuals.

It means less excess fat and more chance of our body pulling its weight, literally and figuratively. Packing on right kind of mass will doubtless improve your life. Crucially though, new research suggests that should the worst happen, testosterone may also play a role in helping to save it too.

A team from the University of Texas report that testosterone supplementation proved an effective way of treating the severe loss of body mass many of those with cancer experience.

Waste of life

There are around 200 known types of cancer and current estimates are that 1 in 2 of us will develop some form of it in our lifetime.

That’s the bad news. The good news is in most cases survival rates are much better than they were even a short time ago. This because medical science is constantly evolving new, effective ways to fight the condition. The latest being T for cachexia.

Cachexia – as it’s other pull-no-punches name, Wasting Disease suggests – is a severe loss of weight, strength appetite and energy due to chronic illness. While it’s not specific to cancer, it is common among sufferers with serious types of the condition.

Around one fifth of cancer related deaths are as a result of cachexia.

In the past trying to improve patients’ outlook with specialist nutrition has only seen limited success. Essentially until now there’s no been workable treatment for cachexia so this potential breakthrough is vital.

Tipping the scales in our favour

The five year study was led by Dr. Melinda Sheffield-Moore, professor and head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas Uni.

In total 28 patients, all battling a kind of cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma were either given 100mg of T or a placebo for 7 weeks. This was alongside the usual treatment of chemo or radiotherapy.

Testosterone binds to receptors in muscle cells sending out a signal calling for protein synthesis. The more T we have the stronger that signal is, meaning a higher volume of protein synthesis and the greater our muscle mass.

At the end of the trial, subjects given extra T maintained their overall body mass and upped their lean mass by 3.2%.

Kind of remarkable given that cachexia sufferers can lose up to 20% of their bodyweight, depending on the form of cancer.

Dr Sheffield-Moore also says of the findings:

“The group receiving testosterone as an adjuvant to their standard of care chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment also demonstrated enhanced physical activity. They felt well enough to get up and take care of some of their basic activities of daily living, like cooking, cleaning and bathing themselves.”

So it’s about quality of life as much as anything. Which may sound like a small victory, but getting control back while coping with illness can dramatically improve mental wellbeing.

Plus, let’s face it, a little extra strength is a good thing in any fight.

Prevention is better than cure

Testosterone is no miracle cure, be very wary of anyone promising one of those. However it sure sounds like higher T has a place when it comes to boosting survival rates.

Unfortunately as yet there’s no way to completely eliminate your risk of cancer. But you can absolutely lower the chances significantly. Good old fashioned healthy living is still the best way to do this. All the classics; cutting down on the vices, eating a balanced diet and staying active.

A Cancer Research UK report states that obesity will have overtaken smoking as the biggest form of preventable cancer by 2043. That’s in women but average male weight is on the rise too.

We’ve long known there is a connection between being overweight and cancer rates, but it’s only lately we’ve been able to to pinpoint exactly why.

Researchers from Trinity College in Dublin have discovered that the body’s inbuilt anti-cancer response, led by so-called ‘Natural Killer’ cells, are clogged by too much fat. They still recognise the danger but are unable to act when body fat is too high.

Lead scientist Prof Lydia Lynch and her Trinity team are now looking at possible solutions:

“A compound that can block the fat uptake by natural killer cells might help. We tried it in the lab and found it allowed them to kill again. But arguably a better way would be to lose some weight, because that is healthier for you anyway.”

Which pretty much brings us full circle in highlighting the importance of maintaining healthy T to encourage the right kind of mass.

While understandably cancer patients from the earlier study got some help from lab T, there’s not excuse for the rest of us not to get high with our own supply completely naturally.

A fighting chance

It’s brilliant that more and more people are winning their cancer battle than ever before. But talk to any doctor or anyone touched by it and they’ll tell you one death is one too many. So we best make full use of every advantage we can possibly get.

Whether that’s by keeping fit to guard against cancer or using new research to kick back against¬†it, there’s plenty we can do.

‘We’re here for good time, not a long time’ so the old saying goes. Well as we’ve seen, look after yourself and your hormones, odds are you’ll manage both.

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