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Gap Between Men's and Women's World Records Increasing

World record times for women in running, swimming and speed skating sprint events improved so dramatically from 1952 to 1980 that they came close to the times of men. However, after the early 1980s, the gap between women's times and men's times widened, even though the times of women continued to improve (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, March 2007).

The only reasonable explanation for this recent widening difference between men's and women's world records is the increased testing for the illegal use of steroids (artificial male hormones) that started in the 1980s. Grown women are naturally weaker than grown men. Boys and girls who receive equal training are almost equal in athletic ability until puberty. Then boys become larger, stronger, faster and much more athletic. The appearance of male hormones at puberty makes the difference. If female athletes are given male hormones, they immediately become able to take longer and harder workouts, lift heavier weights, and improve in all events that require strength or speed.

Male hormones help athletes recover faster so they can do more hard work and therefore become much stronger. The only reason for the widened gap between men's and women's world records in the last 20 years is the increased testing of female athletes to see if they are taking masculinizing hormones.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I have just found out I am diabetic; will exercise help me?

Exercise can treat early diabetes in people who do not respond well to their own insulin, according to a study from the University of Missouri (American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, March 2007). There are two major types of diabetes: either you lack insulin or you cannot respond adequately to insulin. If your pancreas ceases to make insulin, you have a disease that must be treated with medication for the rest of your life. On the other hand, if you have diabetes because your cells cannot respond to insulin, exercise may be your key to successful treatment.

This study showed that a single bout of vigorous exercise helps muscles respond to insulin. Muscle contractions cause muscles to take up sugar. Exercising muscles of diabetics require far less insulin so they can draw sugar from the bloodstream much more effectively. Exercise also helps to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high. You can store sugar only in your muscles and liver. When exercise empties muscles of their stored sugar, dietary sugar goes from intestines, into blood and then directly into muscles.

Every diabetic should have a regular exercise program. However, since almost 80 percent of diabetics eventually die from heart disease, you should have your heart checked before you start. Many diabetic have blocked arteries leading to their hearts, and sudden increased needs for blood flow could cause a heart attack. Check with your doctor.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What kind of oil should I use for frying?

Unfortunately, all types of vegetable oils are harmful when they are raised to temperatures high enough for deep-fat frying. In one study from Columbia, South America, researchers fed their subjects potatoes fried in palm oil (primarily saturated), soybean oil (primarily polyunsaturated) and olive oil (primarily monounsaturated). They then estimated susceptibility to artery damage by measuring blood triglycerides and the ability of the arteries to dilate after each meal. All three oils gave the same detrimental effects, preventing arteries from widening and raising triglycerides three hours after the meals (Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, January 2007). It made no difference how much of the oils were used.

Doctors usually recommend olive and soybean oils because of their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, but frying with these oils at temperatures over 200 degrees centigrade changes their chemical structures by converting them to more saturated forms and generating oxidation products called free radicals, monomers and penzopirene, all with known toxic effects on cells. This study supports others that suggest deep-fried foods should be kept to a minimum in a healthful diet.

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Recipe of the Week

Smoked Salmon Salad

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June 26th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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