Posted by on April 30, 2015 - 9:49am

Interesting in learning about men's health issues?   Join Northwestern Medicine Physicians as they discuss men's health at a free seminar.  Spouses and partners are welcome.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
5:15 pm - 8 pm
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Feinberg Pavilion, 3rd Floor
251 E. Huron Street

Space limited.   Register on line at or call 312-926-7975

Date & Time: 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 5:15pm to 8:00pm
Posted by on September 26, 2011 - 10:21am

African-American men living in areas with low sunlight are up to 3 ½ times more likely to have Vitamin D deficiency than Caucasian men and should take high levels of Vitamin D supplements, according to a new study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“This study shows that the current one-size fits all recommendations for 600 International Units (IU) of Vitamin D don’t work,” said Adam Murphy, M.D., a clinical instructor in urology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School. “Skin color and sunlight exposure need to be considered for recommended daily allowances of Vitamin D.”

Vitamin D deficiency causes brittle bones and has been linked to such diseases as prostate cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

African-American men have lower levels of Vitamin D because the increased melanin in darker skin blocks the ultraviolet rays necessary for the body to produce the vitamin, Murphy said. Thus, African-American men require up to six times more sun exposure than Caucasian men to make adequate Vitamin D levels.

“It takes a dark-skinned male like myself 90 minutes three times a week to absorb enough sunlight to produce the recommended amount of Vitamin D compared to just 15 minutes three times a week for a Caucasian male,“ said the Chicago-based Murphy, who also is a physician at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

African-American men living in Chicago would need to take nearly 2,500 IU’s of Vitamin D daily to reach normal, healthy levels, Murphy said.

The Institute of Medicine recommends adults and children take 600 International IUs of Vitamin D daily, but Murphy says that’s way too low.

All men living in the northern third of the country “from Northern California all the way to Virginia” need to increase their Vitamin D supplementation, Murphy said. But the amount likely varies by region because Chicago residents, for example, aren’t outdoors as much as those who live in Washington or California.

For the study, blood samples were collected from 492 men ages 40 to 79 from three Chicago urology clinics along with demographic and medical information such as body mass index, skin melanin content, sunlight exposure and Vitamin D intake. In the study, 63 percent of African-American men were Vitamin D deficient compared to 18 percent of Caucasian men using the Institute of Medicine minimum recommendation of 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of Vitamin D. African-American heritage, a high body mass index and lack of Vitamin D supplementation all were associated with Vitamin D deficiency.

Using the commonly used 30 ng/ml deficiency cutoff, 93 percent of African-American men were deficient in Vitamin D compared to 69.7 percent of Caucasian men.

Researchers found African-American men had an average of 17.2 ng/ml of Vitamin D in their blood serum, which is below the Institute of Medicine minimum recommendation. “When Vitamin D levels in the bloodstream are less than 20 ng/ml the bone starts to become brittle in adults and in kids it causes rickets,” Murphy said.

Caucasian men had an average level of 24.2 units of Vitamin D in their blood.   A future study will look at Vitamin D levels in Hispanic and Asian men.

Marla Paul is the health sciences editor. Contact her at

Posted by on June 22, 2011 - 9:18am

Too often, teen pregnancy is thought of as an adolescent female's problem, but as they say, it takes two to tango. Of the approximately 10 million adolescent males aged 12 to 16 in 1996, a national study revealed that almost one in 10 became fathers before their 20th birthday(1). The Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) notes the special challenges that teen fathers and their children face.

Many teen fathers are eager to play an important role in their child's life. However, emotional attachment can be difficult as the majority of teen fathers do not live with their child. Also, adolescent fathers typically have poorer earnings potential than their peers who delay parenthood, in part because of lower educational attainment (although many males were already behind in school before they fathered a child).(2) Research shows that only 50 percent of teen fathers who have children before they are 18 finish high school or get their GED by age 22. Just under half of teenage fathers continue on to father more children by their early- to mid-20's.

Children of adolescent fathers often face challenges as well. Studies have found that children who live apart from their fathers are more likely to be reared in low-income homes and are at an increased risk for poor health.(3,4) Also, recent research shows that sons of adolescent fathers are nearly twice as likely to repeat the cycle of young parenthood and become teenage dads themselves.(5)

June is Men's Health Month, a time when adolescent males can recognize the importance of caring for their overall health. Adolescent males tend to be more physically active than females, yet they are also more likely to have behavioral problems, including conduct disorders and ADHD, and to be diagnosed with certain STDs, such as syphilis and HIV. Therefore, screening for these and other conditions is an important step in identifying health issues and getting treatment.

Parents and other caring adults in an adolescent male's life can encourage healthy behaviors and growth by setting good examples and establishing open lines of communication. Resources are available for adolescent males and those that care about them:

HHS' Men's Health Month page has tips on how to connect with your adolescent male on health issues; adolescent males can also learn how to make healthy and responsible choices at the Office on Women's Health's Men's Health Teen page.
, the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, has a resource page for teen dads, and expecting teen dads, to help them play an important role in their child's life from the very beginning.

1 Analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997.

2 Ibid.

3 The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Why it Matters: Teen Pregnancy and Responsible Fatherhood.

4 Nock, S.L., & Einolf, C.J. (2008). The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man: The Annual Public Costs of Father Absence. The National Fatherhood Initiative (

5 Fletcher, J.M. & Wolfe, B.L. (2011). The Effects of Teenage Fatherhood on Young Adult Outcomes. Economic Inquiry, 49: no. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-7295.2011.00372.x

Posted by on September 10, 2010 - 10:54am

Our recent blog on male menopause has generated a number of questions, especially on the side effects of hormone treatments.   I went back to Dr. Robert Brannigan, a Northwestern University urologist,  who was quoted in our previous blog on the topic for guidance and he shared an article that was jointly prepared by the Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology entitled, "Androgen deficiency in the aging male" (Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 90, Suppl 3, November 2008).   It should be noted that although there are recommendations (see below) for androgen replacement therapy for older men, the data to support treatment protocols are based on a limited number of clinical trials. Furthermore, the long term health risks and benefits of androgen therapy in the older man are not well defined so it is important that anyone undergoing androgen therapy be carefully monitored.

All commercial androgen formulation currently available in the US are preparations of testosterone, an androgen that can be converted to estradiol.  The potential risks of androgen therapy in older men include fluid retention, gynecomastia, excessively elevated red blood cell mass, exacerbation of sleep apnea,  benign or malignant prostate disease, and an increase in risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The Summary and Recommendations of the report state:

  • Androgen deficiency in the aging male may be associated with changes in mood, body composition, stamina, energy, and decreased sexual and cognitive function as well as loss of bone mineral density.   Such signs and symptoms may be relieved or eliminated with testosterone replacement therapy.
  • Serum testosterone should be evaluated only in men with signs or symptoms of androgen deficiency.
  • Androgen therapy should be considered for men who have symptoms of androgen deficiency and a low serum total testosterone concentration (<200 ng/dL).
  • Free or bioavailable testosterone levels or the free testosterone index should be evaluated in men who have symptoms of androgen deficiency and a borderline total serum testosterone concentration between 200 ng/dL and 400 ng/dL.
  • During androgen therapy, serum testosterone, PSA (prostate specific antigen), and hematocrit (level of red blood cells) should be monitored, and periodic digital rectal exam is recommended.
  • Limited data regarding the benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy do not permit specific treatment recommendations at this time and further research studies are needed to better define the effects of androgen replacement therapy in aging men.

Men considering androgen replacement therapy may want to consider participation in a clinical trial so that we can increase our knowledge in this area.