Page 5

HEALTH

The Healthy Geezer with Fred Cietti

Q

To Your

From The Geezer’s Mailbag... . My doctor ordered a TSH test. What is

A

that?

. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-

shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism, which are the chemical processes cells in the body perform to keep us alive. It should come as no surprise that the thyroid gland often peters out as we get older. The thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test checks to see if your thyroid is producing the right amount of hormone for your system. If the gland is making too much hormone, you get hyperthyroidism; if it makes too little, you get hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is very common in people over 60 years of age; the incidence of it steadily increases with age. About 25 percent of people in nursing homes may have undiagnosed hypothyroidism because the symptoms of this condition can be misinterpreted as signs of aging. The American Thyroid Association recommends that all adults, both men and women, begin their screening at age 35 and every five years thereafter. Experts in this organization argue that such early screening is inexpensive and would prevent progression to hypothyroidism. The symptoms of hypothyroidism include: fatigue, intolerance to cold, constipation, forgetfulness, muscle cramps, hair loss, depression, weight gain, dry skin, hoarseness and mood swings. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: weight loss (not always in seniors), heat intolerance, hyperactivity, muscle weakness, palpitations, tremors, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, enlarged thyroid gland, frequent bowel movements, vision problems or eye irritation.

Q

. I recall an episode of Seinfeld that got a lot of

A

laughs about man breasts. I have them and it’s not funny. Is there a cure?

. Breast enlargement in males is common. About

30 percent of older men have this condition, which can be caused by hormonal changes or simple weight gain. When the usual balance of the female hormone estrogen and the male hormone testosterone in a man shifts, he can get “gynecomastia,” which is derived from two Greek words that mean “woman” and “breast.” Males normally produce small quantities of estrogen to regulate bone density, sperm production and mood. Natural hormonal changes that lead to gynecomastia occur not only in old age but also during infancy and adolescence. Gynecomastia can be caused by a health problem such as liver, kidney or thyroid diseases. And, this condition can also result from drinking alcohol or taking drugs such as steroids, marijuana, amphetamines and heroin. There are medications that can cause gynecomastia, too. If you have enlarged breasts, see your doctor for a check-up. Enlarged breasts can be a symptom of breast cancer or a testicular tumor. Gynecomastia usually will go away without treatment. This condition is often treated with drugs. Sometimes, enlarged breasts are reduced surgically.

QA

. Can copper bracelets treat arthritis?

.

There is no scientific evidence that copper bracelets do anything more than make a fashion statement. However, there is no proof that the bracelets don’t provide relief to arthritis sufferers. Copper bracelets for arthritis have been around for a century or more. Many people swear that they work. Some doctors suspect that the positive reports are based upon symptoms going away by themselves. Folk remedies like copper bracelets seem to be harmless. However, they often delay effective medical treatment, so these so-called “cures” are not completely benign. Ask The Healthy Geezer a question at: fred@healthygeezer.com

PAGE FIVE • MARCH 16-22, 2017

Living with MS with Dee Dean

Fungal Compound triggering Axon Regeneration Offers Hope for MS Treatments

T

he idea of repairing damaged axons — a key component of advancing disability in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) — just got closer to reality, with the discovery that a compound found in fungi triggered axon regeneration, making damaged axons grow “like weeds.” Scientists have long struggled to find compounds that stimulate the repair of axons, the long, thread-like neuron appendages that send signals to other cells. The study, “Small-Molecule Stabilization of 14-3-3 Protein-Protein Interactions Stimulates Axon Regeneration,” appeared in the journal Neuron. The discovery was made with the help of PhD candidate Andrew Kaplan, working in the laboratory of Dr. Alyson Fournier, a neurology and neurosurgery professor at Canada’s McGill University. Fournier’s team had been focused on axon regeneration for some time, particularly a group of proteins with known

neuroprotective properties called 14-3-3. Previous studies had shown that when plants are hit by certain fungal infections, they react by shedding their leaves and growing roots. The fungal molecule responsible for this, fusicoccin-A, is known to affect 14-3-3. So while plant roots and human nerve cells are indeed very different natural phenomena, Kaplan figured that these insights may prove valuable. “While 14-3-3 is the common denominator in this phenomenon, the identity of the other proteins involved and the resulting biological activities differ between plants and animals,” said Kaplan in a news release. The team decided to use fusicoccin-A to treat labgrown neurons with damaged axons. “When I looked under the microscope the following day, the axons were growing like weeds, an exciting result that led us to determine that fusicoccin-A can stimulate axon repair in the injured nervous system,” said Kaplan. Besides brain and spinal

ddean@echerald.com

cord injury, axonal damage is a factor in many other disorders and diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis and neurodegenerative conditions. The team’s discovery means that fusicoccin-A and similar molecules could be the starting point to develop drugs that treat axonal damage. Kaplan says future work should focus on better understanding the mechanisms by which fusicoccin-A improves axon repair. The team now seeks a deeper understanding of how fusicoccin-A makes the neurons grow. Researchers have already learned that a protein called GCN1 is involved in the process. GCN1 and 14-3-3 need to physically bond for fusicoccin-A to boost axon growth. They are now examining if GCN1 could be a suitable drug target for more specific treatments to trigger regeneration. “We have identified a novel strategy to promote axon regeneration with a family of small molecules that may be excellent candidates for future drug development,” concluded Fournier. “This is an exciting advance because the field has struggled to find treatments and identify targets for drugs that stimulate axon repair.”

Source: Neuron, McGill University Dean has been fighting Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years. She continually studies and researches the disease to educate herself. She writes this column as a community service to share her findings and to raise public awareness about MS. The opinions and experiences shared are her own. Dean is NOT a medical doctor. ALWAYS check with your doctor first before trying a new therapy. This column is intended for informational purposes only. Dean can be reached at ddean@echerald.com. NOTE: Dean is the recipient of the 2004 STAR Community Outreach Award by the MS Society Dec. 2, 2004, the American Red Cross Real Hero Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Award, Oct. 13, 2006 , the Stoney Community Service Award, February 29, 2008, Women in Leadership Award for Art/Media/ Culture Oct. 29, 2010, El Cajon Citizen of The Year Nominee Feb. 2013 and 2017 and Recipient of the National MS Society’s 2014 Media Partner of The Year, Feb. 10, 2015.

031617 the herald  

Enjoy the March 16-22 digital version of The Herald! Get Your Community Fix! Don't forget to hit Hooleys Public House for St. Paddy's Day!

031617 the herald  

Enjoy the March 16-22 digital version of The Herald! Get Your Community Fix! Don't forget to hit Hooleys Public House for St. Paddy's Day!