Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dad May Be Hazardous to Your Health

The Fifty Foot Blogger: Caution: Dad may be hazardous to your health


Monday, August 25, 2008

Mental illness linked to genes, says expert

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 Mental illness linked to genes, says expert
expert who was in Cork yesterday to address a major international conference.

"There is a strong genetic component to most psychiatric disorders, with evidence coming from studies of twins and families," said Prof Peter McGuffin from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London, who yesterday spoke about genes, behaviour and mental illness at a European Behavioural Pharmacology Society conference in University College Cork.

Speaking to The Irish Times in advance of his talk, he described the complexities of the interactions between genes and the environment in mental illness, and said that genetic studies were starting to unpick those relationships and highlight the need for an individualised approach to drug treatment.

Prof McGuffin was recently involved in a study - published online last week in the journal Nature Genetics - that newly links two genes to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). The study, to which researchers at Trinity College Dublin also contributed, looked at more than 4,000 people with bipolar disorder and found variations in two "ion channel" genes that function in the transmission of messages in brain cells.

"A lot of inherited forms of epilepsy seem to be to do with defects in ion channels and various anti-convulsants are good mood stabilisers, but we have never known why. It's all coming together now," he said.

His group has also found that an individual's response to antidepressants is affected by their genetic profile: if their genes mean they transport the brain chemical serotonin less effectively, they will have a poorer response to a commonly prescribed type of antidepressant known as an SSRI.

It argues the case for a more personalised approach to treating mental illness, said Prof McGuffin: "The hope is that we will be able to take existing compounds and predict who will actually respond to what."

Behaviour can also be in part down to genes, he added. "There's a lot of evidence from good old-fashioned twin and adoption studies that criminal behaviour is influenced by genes," he said. "It's a touchy topic to talk about but the evidence is consistent."

And the environment also plays a key role, said Prof McGuffin. "In addition to genes and the environment adding up together there's something called gene-environment interaction, which means that some people are more susceptible to stresses than others.

"There's also a strange phenomenon which is less intuitive called gene-environment covariation, which means that to some extent people create or evoke their own environments."

He cited alcoholism as an example: "Suppose you have an inherited predisposition to alcoholism - your parents might also have alcohol problems and you grew up in an environment where you were exposed to alcohol.

"And maybe because you like alcohol you might go out and seek it, so you are creating an environment where you get more exposure to alcohol."

The conference, which runs until tomorrow, will include discussions of the genetic basis of schizophrenia, depression, drug dependence and autism.

© 2008 The Irish Times

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

21 August 2008 Human Reproductive Clock

When parents are over 35 years old, man and woman alike,
the following cases become prevalent:

Up to a third of all cases of schizophrenia are linked to increasing paternal age.
Men 40 and older are nearly six times more likely to have offspring with autism than men under age 30.
Other research shows that the risk of breast and prostate cancer in offspring increases with paternal age.
The chances of parents of babies with achondroplasia is higher
Older fathers can cause genetic conditions in their offspring, such as birth defects, autism and schizophrenia.
Increased chances of an older woman having a baby with Down's syndrome has been well documented.

Posted by Neriz at Thursday, August 21, 2008
Labels: pasalubong, science


The male biological clock is ticking: a review of the literature.

1: Sao Paulo Med J. 2008 May;126(3):197-201.
The male biological clock is ticking: a review of the literature.Pasqualotto FF, Borges Júnior E, Pasqualotto EB.
Association Institute Sapientiae, Universidade de Caxias do Sul, São Paulo, Brazil.

The term biological clock is usually used by physicians and psychologists to refer to the declining fertility, increasing risk of fetal birth defects and alterations to hormone levels experienced by women as they age. Female fecundity declines slowly after the age of 30 years and more rapidly after 40 and is considered the main limiting factor in treating infertility. However, there are several scientific reports, chapters in books and review articles suggesting that men may also have a biological clock. The aim of our study was to conduct a review of the literature, based on the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (Medline), to evaluate the male biological clock. After adjustments for other factors, the data demonstrate that the likelihood that a fertile couple will take more than 12 months to conceive nearly doubles from 8% when the man is < 25 years old to 15% when he is > 35 years old. Thus, paternal age is a further factor to be taken into account when deciding on the prognosis for infertile couples. Also, increasing male age is associated with a significant decline in fertility (five times longer to achieve pregnancy at the age of 45 years). Patients and their physicians therefore need to understand the effects of the male biological clock on sexual and reproductive health, in that it leads to erectile dysfunction and male infertility, as well as its potential implications for important medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

PMID: 18711662 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


Though more research is needed, Malaspina says it’s possible that — just like women — the prime time for becoming a dad is one's 20s and early 30s.

His biological clock is ticking, too
Research links advancing age with declining fertility, genetic defects

By Joe Mullich
Special to
updated 4:27 a.m. PT, Wed., June. 27, 2007
Men have long been fathering children well into old age. Tony Randall entered daddyhood at age 77. Charlie Chaplin became a proud pop for the last time at age 73. Rod Stewart had his seventh child at 60 — and may still be on a roll.

But while it seems that older men and fatherhood are no odd couple, scientists have begun questioning the assumption that the biological clock is only a concern for women.

Unlike women, who have a marked decline in fertility in their 30s, men’s biological clocks appear to wind down gradually and progressively over the course of their lives. One study, for instance, found that sperm motility — their ability to be strong swimmers capable of reaching and fertilizing an egg — decreased by a steady 0.7 percent per year for men between the ages of 22 and 80.

Story continues below ↓


Sperm counts appear to decline with age, too. But even men with reduced counts still may be able to father children since it takes just one sperm.

Sperm from older men also may be more likely to contribute to health problems in children. Recent studies have linked older fatherhood with increased risks of schizophrenia, autism, Down syndrome and other disorders in children. And in this case, “older” means as young as 40.

“Young people who want to have a family may want to start considering the age of the father as much as the mother,” says Dr. Dolores Malaspina, a fertility researcher and chair of the psychiatry department at New York University School of Medicine.

In 2001, Malaspina published a study showing that the chance of a child developing schizophrenia rose in concert with the father’s age. The risk was one in 141 for children of fathers under 25, and one in 47 for those with fathers 50 and older. Other studies have replicated those results. Researchers estimate as many as one in four cases of schizophrenia may be linked with a father’s age.

In another study, Malaspina linked paternal age with a greater chance of autism-related disorders — more than a fivefold increased risk for kids born to fathers 40 or older, compared with those born to dads younger than 30.

Since 1980, birth rates have increased 40 percent for fathers ages 35 to 49, while births involving men under 30 have declined. And Malaspina theorizes the rise in fathers’ ages may explain some of the upswing in autism diagnoses, though this hasn’t been proven.

DNA defects
The culprit behind a man’s ticking biological clock may be the so-called “copy error theory.” Imagine that you copied a document on a Xerox machine. And then you made a copy of the copy. And then a copy of the copy of the copy. With each new generation, the risk of blurs and imperfections increases. The same sort of thing happens with sperm. While women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, men constantly produce new sperm by replicating the previous generations of sperm, thus increasing the chance of mutation with each duplication.

Last year, Dr. Andrew Wyrobek, a medical biophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories in Berkeley, Calif., published a study that examined the sperm of 97 healthy men. Breaks in sperm DNA strands, called DNA fragmentation, rose steadily from ages 20 to 80. These breaks can cause fertility problems, pregnancy failures and an increase in some genetic diseases. For instance, genetic mutations in the sperm that can cause dwarfism, a disorder that affects bone growth, increase about 2 percent each year.

“Sperm cells, with the DNA tightly compacted in the sperm head, are one of the few cells in the body that don’t have the ability to repair themselves,” Wyrobek points out. Interactive

Learn more about the techniques used to help couples conceive a child.

Exactly what this all means is hazy, as even Wyrobek readily acknowledges. Even if sperm levels decline with age, some men can father children into advanced years — an Australian mine worker made headlines in 1992 by becoming a father at 93 years, 10 months. And though the risk of genetic defects might increase with the father’s age, those risks remain relatively small and can vary from person to person.

What’s more, Dr. Rebecca Z. Sokol, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology and a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California, says the studies linking a father’s age to abnormalities in sperm DNA and genetic defects are based on “very soft, preliminary data.” Some of the studies, she notes, didn’t control for factors such as alcohol use, which may influence the results.

A sperm shape-up plan
Given all this, making recommendations is dicey. Dr. Harry Fisch, director of the Male Reproductive Center at Columbia University Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the author of “The Male Biological Clock,” suggests middle-aged men who plan to become fathers should try to get their sperm in top form.

“If you want to run a marathon, you have to get in shape for it,” Fisch says. “In the same way, you have to train to have a baby.”

Mostly, the recommendations involve sound health practices that are beneficial at any age: quit smoking, avoid excess booze and empty calories, and shed extra pounds since obesity is related to male infertility.

Another tip: avoid hot tubs. Men’s testicles are outside the body in the scrotum to keep the sperm cooler than the core body temperature, and daily exposure to high levels of heat can cause a reversible decrease in sperm quality.

Fisch also advises older, aspiring fathers go in for a physical examination. Doctors can check for conditions such as varicoceles, dilated veins in the scrotum similar to varicose veins in the legs, which can obstruct sperm. Varicoceles, present in about 40 percent of infertile men, can be corrected with outpatient surgery.

Though more research is needed, Malaspina says it’s possible that — just like women — the prime time for becoming a dad is one's 20s and early 30s.

“Men," she says, "your biological clocks are ticking, too.”

Joe Mullich is a freelance writer in Sherman Oaks, Calif., who has written for Health, Men's Health and Salon.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Study on Achondroplasia and Thanatophoric Dysplasia and Increasing Paternal Age

Am J Med Genet A. 2008 Aug 12. [Epub ahead of print]
The population-based prevalence of achondroplasia and thanatophoric dysplasia in selected regions of the US.Waller DK, Correa A, Vo TM, Wang Y, Hobbs C, Langlois PH, Pearson K, Romitti PA, Shaw GM, Hecht JT.
Houston Health Science Center, The University of Texas, Houston, Texas.

There have been no large population-based studies of the prevalence of achondroplasia and thanatophroic dysplasia in the United States. This study compared data from seven population-based birth defects monitoring programs in the United States. We also present data on the association between older paternal age and these birth defects, which has been described in earlier studies. The prevalence of achondroplasia ranged from 0.36 to 0.60 per 10,000 livebirths (1/27,780-1/16,670 livebirths). The prevalence of thanatophoric dysplasia ranged from 0.21 to 0.30 per 10,000 livebirths (1/33,330-1/47,620 livebirths). In Texas, fathers that were 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, and >/=40 years of age had significantly increased rates of de novo achondroplasia among their offspring compared with younger fathers. The adjusted prevalence odds ratios were 2.8 (95% CI; 1.2, 6.7), 2.8 (95% CI; 1.0, 7.6), 4.9 (95% CI; 1.7, 14.3), and 5.0 (95% CI; 1.5, 16.1), respectively. Using the same age categories, the crude prevalence odds ratios for de novo cases of thanatophoric dysplasia in Texas were 5.8 (95% CI; 1.7, 9.8), 3.9 (95% CI; 1.1, 6.7), 6.1 (95% CI; 1.6, 10.6), and 10.2 (95% CI; 2.6, 17.8), respectively. These data suggest that thanatophoric dysplasia is one-third to one-half as frequent as achondroplasia. The differences in the prevalence of these conditions across monitoring programs were consistent with random fluctuation. Birth defects monitoring programs may be a good source of ascertainment for population-based studies of achondroplasia and thanatophoric dysplasia, provided that diagnoses are confirmed by review of medical records. (c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tom Steele Writes About His Unfortunate Cousin Who Had a Father Over 40

Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated"* (Deuteronomy 34:7).Women know that they have a biological clock. By the time they are in their 30's the bio ticking gets louder and louder. There is a lot of psychology connected with the feminine biological clock.But, is there a male biological clock? Yes, but what guy is checking the time? Guys assume that they will always make sperm so, what is the hurry? What is important for guys to know is that, from a fertility and health perspective, having children is for the young. The biological material is just better. After 35 deterioration is beginning to set in. Men 40 and over are nearly 6 times more likely to have offspring with autism than men younger than 30.** By age 60, 85% of sperm is clinically abnormal. Increased age in the father increases the risk of schizophrenia in the children.I have 2 uncles in my family history, one on my dad's side and one on my mother's side. Both of these uncles did not marry until they were 40 years old. One uncle fathered 4 children who grew up to be responsible, well-functioning adults. The other uncle fathered 3 children, 2 of them grew up to be good citizens, Christians and parents. The oldest child of the second uncle developed normally. He was a good student and was dedicated as a Christian too. During his college years he developed schizophrenia. This mental illness led to his tragic death and was the cause of a great deal of anguish for the family too.Would this have happened had my second uncle fathered children earlier in life? We cannot know for sure, but if there is a question about the timing of having children, put the odds in your favor and do it sooner rather than later.Grace&Peace,Tom*James Michener said in "The Source" that the verse meant that Moses was good in bed at 120 years old. I doubt that he took any supplements either, but then all his food was organic.**Statistics came from an article in "Psychology Today" called "A Man's Shelf Life," by Mark Teich. I had read similar statistics in other publications on this subject so it seemed like they were credible.
Posted by Tom at 8:05 PM



Sunday, August 03, 2008

Paternal age is a risk factor for Alzheimer disease in the absence of a major gene

Paternal age is a risk factor for Alzheimer disease in the absence of a major gene
Journal neurogenetics
Publisher Springer Berlin / Heidelberg
ISSN 1364-6745 (Print) 1364-6753 (Online)
Issue Volume 1, Number 4 / August, 1998
Category Original article
DOI 10.1007/s100480050041
Pages 277-280
Subject Collection Biomedical and Life Sciences
SpringerLink Date Monday, August 17, 1998
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Original article
Paternal age is a risk factor for Alzheimer disease in the absence of a major gene
L. Bertram1, R. Busch2, M. Spiegl1, N. T. Lautenschlager1, U. Müller3 and A. Kurz1

(1) Department of Psychiatry, Technical University Munich, Möhlstrasse 26, D-81675 Munich, Germany, DE
(2) Department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Technical University, Munich, Germany, DE
(3) Department of Human Genetics, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany, DE

ABSTRACT We compared the parental age at birth of patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) with that of cognitively healthy control subjects. Within 206 carefully diagnosed AD patients, two groups were distinguished according to the likelihood of carrying a major gene for AD (MGAD). This likelihood was calculated by applying a Bayesian approach which incorporates data on aggregation of the disease, age at onset, and "censoring" ages within the family. All AD patients were ranked by MGAD probability. According to the sample's quartiles, two subgroups were defined representing the 52 individuals with the lowest and the 52 with the highest MGAD probability. Age at onset of dementia, education, and apolipoprotein E ε  4 allele frequencies were not statistically different between the two groups. Fathers of patients with a low MGAD probability were significantly older (35.7±8.1 years) than fathers of both other groups (high MGAD probability 31.3±6.9 years, P =0.004; controls 32.6±6.8 years, P =0.04, n=50). The differences for mothers were less pronounced and not statistically significant. These findings suggest that increased paternal age is a risk factor for AD in the absence of a major gene, whereas increased maternal age and AD are associated only weakly and independently of genetic disposition.
Key words Alzheimer disease - Risk factors - Parental age - Genetics

Received: February 23, 1998 / Revised and Accepted: May 20, 1998



Saturday, August 02, 2008

the greatest mutational health hazard in the human population at present is fertile old males

"I conclude that for a number of diseases the mutation rate increases with age and at a rate much faster than linear. This suggests that the greatest mutational health hazard in the human population at present is fertile old males. If males reproduced shortly after puberty (or the equivalent result were attained by early collection of sperm and cold storage for later use) the mutation rate could be greatly reduced. (I am not advocating this. For one thing, until many more diseases are studied, the generality of the conclusion is not established. Furthermore, one does not lightly suggest such socially disruptive procedures, even if there were a well-established health benefit.)"

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Friday, August 01, 2008

It is not True That Thomas Insel Ever Wanted to Prevent Schizophrenia Or He Would Have Had A Public Health Alert Warning About Increasing Paternal Age


August 1, 2008
Psychiatric Times. Vol. 25 No. 9
From Prevention to Preemption: A Paradigm Shift in Psychiatry
by Thomas R. Insel, MD

Dr Insel is director of the National Institute of Mental Health, a division of the NIH in Bethesda, Md.


Universal prevention has been a focus of psychiatric research for the past 4 decades. Using a public health approach, research has shown that mitigating major risk factors, such as poverty and early life stress, and promoting protective factors can improve behavioral outcomes. In other areas of medicine, we have observed how similar preventive approaches have reduced deaths from cancer and infectious disease. By contrast, while reducing environmental stress and providing better maternal support improve general behavioral outcomes (by preventing the development of antisocial behavior, for example), there are few, if any, examples of preventive approaches in psychiatry that reduce either the morbidity or the mortality of our most disabling illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.1,2