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Men’s Health

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An obese grandfather could heighten the risk of unhealthy weight gain in both his children and grandchildren in a disturbing insight into the long-lasting affects of poor nutrition and lifestyle.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute have found that molecular signals in sperm of obese fathers can lead to obesity and diabetes-like symptoms in two generations of offspring, even if the offspring eat a healthy diet.

The researchers examined two groups of mice, one fed a high fat diet for ten weeks and the other kept on a control diet. Both groups were mated with mice on a control diet.

Researchers found the offspring of the mice whose fathers were on the high fat diet were 21 per cent more likely to become obese.

Lead researcher Dr Tod Fullston said the father’s diet changed the molecular makeup of their sperm, which in turn may have programmed the embryo for obesity or metabolic disease later in life.

“For female offspring, there is [also] an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. What we’ve also found is that there is an increased chance of both male and female offspring [of an obese father] developing metabolic diseases similar to type 2 diabetes.

“This is the first report of both male and female offspring inheriting a metabolic disease due to their father’s obesity.

“It’s been known for some time that the health of a mother before, during and after pregnancy can impact on her child’s health, but the father’s health during this period is often overlooked.

“If our laboratory studies are translatable to humans, this could be a new and as yet unexplored intervention window into the epidemic of childhood obesity.”

The research was published in the FASEB journal.

University of Adelaide researchers have also found that men who get up more than once a night to pee could be suffering from a range of health conditions.

Professor Gary Wittert, Director of the Freemasons Foundation for Men’s Health, said the need to urinate at night is a problem with urine storage, and this disrupts sleep. He said it is an indication of, and can also exacerbate, other health conditions.

“Nocturia, combined with the sensation of not being able to hold on (urgency), or frequent urination, suggest the presence of overactive bladder syndrome,” Professor Wittert said. “We are now beginning to understand the broader relevance of this in relation to other health problems.”

One on five Australian men aged 40 years or older, and a third of men aged 70 years and older, have overactive bladder syndrome.

Researchers examined lifestyle, metabolic and physical factors associated with the progression or improvement of lower urinary tract symptoms.

Researchers found that men with a higher level of physical activity were found to reduce or eradicate lower urinary tract symptoms more quickly than men who were less active.

Men who were widowed, had higher plasma estradiol and had depression were more likely to suffer an increase in the severity of their condition, but the symptoms reduced dramatically when these issues were addressed.

Lead researcher Dr Sean Marin said the presence of lower urinary tract symptoms, although commonly thought to relate to the prostate, may have more to do with factors outside the bladder and prostate.

“These urinary problems are associated with other conditions, such as sleep apnoea, depression or anxiety and obesity, and many of these problems are treatable or modifiable,” Dr Martin said.

“As we’ve seen in our study, men can overcome their urinary problems if the underlying issues are correctly managed.”

Professor Wittert said nocturia and overactive bladder syndrome are also risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“Often when a man presents to his GP about urinary problems, the first assumption is that it’s all because of the prostate. However, our message is: men who are suffering from any of these water-works problems are also likely to be suffering from a range of other health problems that should be looked for and managed.

“In this way, men have a greater chance of reversing their bladder problems and potentially preventing more serious disease.”

The research was published in The Journal of Urology.

Kirsty Waterford