Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Belly Fat" More Than "Unsightly"

Caught this story on CBS News tonite, "Slowing Down Men's Biological Clocks."

"A lot of people think as they get older that there is erectile dysfunction. But there's more than just that," [Dr. Harry] Fisch says. "There's excessive weight gain, tiredness."

One of the factors determining the pace of the ticking is testosterone.

"Testosterone is the major male hormone," says Dr. Peter Schlegel of Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York.

That hormone helps regulate mood, sex drive, fertility and muscle mass. And over time, it drops — at the rate of about one percent per year after age 40.

After age 60, roughly 20 percent of men are testosterone-deficient.

"One of the problems that occurs as men get older is they convert more testosterone to female hormones or estrogens," Schlegel says.

That's right. The structure of testosterone is remarkably similar to the structure of estrogen. With just one enzyme, the body can convert this male hormone into a female hormone — and body fat speeds up the process. So a bigger belly may mean lower testosterone.

* * *

"The obvious answer [to how to keep testosterone levels normal, naturally] is that size really does matter — that is, the size of the belly," Fisch said. "The easiest thing you can do to keep your biological clock from ticking too fast is losing the weight around the belly."

Note to me: Watch belly!

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