Men’s Health: The top health risks and how stem cells could assist in future
Men’s Health: The top health risks and how stem cells could assist in future
June 1, 2023
Dr. Lana du Plessis
June 1, 2023
Dr. Lana du Plessis
The typical male often does not pay attention to their health as women do. They are more likely to overuse tobacco and alcohol, not go for regular check-ups, and indulge in risky behaviour. Most men are affected by the same diseases that can affect anyone—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, depression.
Men’s health involves a variety of gender-specific issues, like testosterone production, sexual health, and unique issues such as prostate cancer and benign prostate enlargement. Thus, men can take control of their health by eating a healthy diet, making simple lifestyle adjustments, and visiting the doctor regularly.
Heart disease and stroke
Heart disease comes in many forms. All its forms can lead to serious, fatal complications if undetected. It is estimated that heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. men, responsible for one in every four male deaths. Between 70 percent and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in men. Stroke targets more than three million men. High blood pressure is common in males under the age of forty-five.
Stem cell therapy has been investigated as a potential treatment for congestive and heart failure patients. Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) can differentiate into various types of cells, including heart cells. Studies have shown that stem cells can improve heart function in patients with congestive heart failure. Stem cells have been shown to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels and heart muscle cells, and improve the function of existing cardiac cells, thereby improving cardiac function and blood flow and reducing inflammation in the heart.
A few studies have shown good outcomes whereby injecting patients with allogeneic umbilical cord MSCs significantly reduces the rate of heart attacks or strokes in patients with chronic heart failure.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for U.S. men; it kills about the same number each year as prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease combined. Men have strokes at younger ages than women. After a stroke, the brain stem can suffer damage, and stem cells have the potential to help heal this damage. Research has shown that stem cell therapy can promote functional recovery in stroke patients by replacing damaged neurons and promoting the growth of new brain tissue.
Cord blood is emerging as a serious competitor in cell therapy for stroke. The main reason is that MNC from cord blood triggers less graft-versus–host reaction than adult sources of MNC.
If clinical trials of allogeneic cord blood therapy for stroke continue to meet their endpoints, this could be an exciting new application for donated cord blood. In the United States, about 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year, and 140,000 are fatal1-3. If only 1% of these patients received cell therapy, that would be comparable to the total number of allogeneic stem cell transplants per year in the United States10. Ultimately, a successful cord blood therapy will find itself in competition against cell therapy products for stroke that are already near approval. The possibility to utilize cord blood cells as an “off-the-shelf” product (actually out of the cryogenic freezer) with no HLA matching would make cord blood more competitive against other cell therapies that are based on MSC and operate as universal donor products (1-3).
This cancer joins heart disease as the top two leading causes of death for men of all races—and it is largely preventable with proper skin care and regular check-ups.
Melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, affects the sexes differently. Men are more likely to die of melanoma than women. This is true at any age. White adolescent males and young adult men are about twice as likely to die of melanoma as white females of the same age.
Recent experimental studies in melanoma cell lines confirmed that umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UCMSCs) exert antitumor effects on melanoma by inhibiting proliferation, inducing apoptosis, and suppressing the metastatic potential of these melanoma cell lines (4).
High blood pressure
Several studies have shown that men younger than sixty-five consistently have higher levels of hypertension compared to women of the same age group. While common, it is not inevitable and can be prevented, delayed, and treated. If ignored, it can lead to heart and kidney failure, vision problems, and even blindness. Stress, lack of physical activity, and being overweight or obese increase the odds, as do genetics.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive illness characterized by chronically elevated blood pressure in pulmonary circulation that can lead to right-sided heart enlargement and failure. In advanced stages, PAH is considered non-curable (5). Clinical researchers in Germany recently reported the first successful treatment of (PAH) using a human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell (HUCMSC)-derived therapy.
Depression and suicide
The suicide rate for men is 3.5 times higher than it is for women, with males accounting for seven out of ten suicides in 2015. With depression comes a much higher risk of suicide, which is why it is so important for men to seek help for persistent depression. Stem cell therapies have emerged as a standard for the treatment of both subacute and chronic inflammatory processes and neurological disorders. Investigations have suggested the potential use of adult stem cell therapy to treat several neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, autoimmune encephalomyelitis, Alzheimer’s disease, other dementia conditions, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.
Most studies emphasize the immunomodulatory nature of adult stem cells, with their therapeutic efficiency related to neurological diseases, particularly triggering anti-inflammatory states. Recently, various studies have focused on treating depression with MSCs from various sources and the results from different experimental studies strongly support the potential therapeutic use of stem cells in treating depression (6).
Untreated diabetes in men can lead to erectile dysfunction and other urological problems, nerve damage (neuropathy), dehydration, and damage to the eyes, kidneys, and hearing. Men, after putting on weight, are more at risk for diabetes than women. Additionally, men typically store fat differently than women, which increases their risk.
In a recent meta-analysis, clear evidence was provided for the superior efficacy of Wharton’s Jelly MSCs (WJ-MSCs) over UCB in Diabetes type 1 (7). Even in Diabetes type 2 experimental models, preclinical observations, and clinical studies have provided promising results using umbilical cord MSCs to treat and manage the disease (8).
Highly determined by genetics, cholesterol levels can also be influenced by things like diet, activity, and body weight. Testosterone, the male sex hormone, may have an impact on cholesterol levels in men. Although the effects of testosterone on cholesterol are not completely clear, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases in men as their testosterone levels decrease with age. For many men, the risk of high cholesterol starts in their twenties and goes up with age.
In a recent study the effect of UCMSCs treatment on atherosclerotic plaque formation and the progression of lesions in a high-fat diet rabbit model, the. UCSCs treatment alleviated atherosclerotic plaque burden by reducing inflammation, regulating the intestinal flora and metabolite trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) levels, and repairing the damaged endothelium. Indicating these stem cells’ ability to treat even high cholesterol in animal models and the potential for future treatment in humans (9).
Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking are just a few factors that increase the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD), which can lead to complications including anaemia, cardiovascular disease, decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction, decreased immune response, and kidney damage. Viewing the etiology of CKD, it follows that stem cell therapy will also prove beneficial for the treatment of CKD in the future.
The most common cancer found in men and the second leading type of cancer death in men (following lung cancer). The good news is that it is treatable if found in its early stages, but the bad news is that often it shows no symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body. Although older age increases the risk, younger men can get it, too.
Cell Immunotherapy for Prostate cancer is a promising new approach for the treatment of cancers that otherwise did not respond well to traditional treatments, surgeries, or chemotherapy. The basic goal of all immunotherapies, checkpoint inhibitors, and cancer vaccines are to program the body’s own immune system to recognize and destroy only cancer cells as the enemy.
In other studies, on prostate cancer cell lines an anti-tumor effect of cord blood serum as well as UCMSCs showed inhibition of viability, proliferation, and migration of prostate cancer cell lines. All the above evidence indicates new treatment directions in the oncology field; however, further studies are needed to clarify the underlying viability- and proliferation-related signalling pathways (10).
Erectile dysfunction and low testosterone
Erectile dysfunction is common in men, especially those older than seventy-five, but that does not mean it should impact your sex life. Treatments such as medications can help, and actions like quitting smoking or limiting alcohol can have a preventive effect too. In any case, it is good to get any symptoms checked out by your provider, as this condition could be a sign of a more severe issue, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
In time, erectile dysfunction (ED) and Peyronie’s disease might also be treated with stem cells. The effect of stromal vascular faction (SVF) from adipose-derived stem cells. SVF is “ideal” for the formation of new blood vessels and for the regeneration of damaged tissue, making them particularly interesting for ED therapies. Stem cells or stem cell-derived products have been used in several clinical studies in the treatment of erectile dysfunction with a good efficacy and safety profile. Therefore, further advancement of the research of stem cell therapy for ED might prove the preferred treatment of ED in the future. (11).
All the above-mentioned health risks for men show that following healthy habits in the average daily life can reduce the risk of these factors. It also further highlights the benefits of simply storing stem cells from your baby or any other source of your adult stem cells – today- might be used to treat these diseases in the future.
Start improving your health today by following healthy habits and protect your future.
- Wang W, Li L, Chen F, Yang Y. Umbilical cord‑derived mesenchymal stem cells can inhibit the biological functions of melanoma A375 cells. Oncol Rep. 2018 Jul;40(1):511-517. doi: 10.3892/or.2018.6446. Epub 2018 May 16. PMID: 29767256.
- Ding, XF., Liang, HY., Yuan, B. et al. Efficacy of stem cell therapy for pulmonary arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of preclinical studies. Stem Cell Res Ther 10, 55 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-019-1162-8.
- do Prado-Lima PAS, Costa-Ferro ZSM, Souza BSF, da Cruz IBM, Lab B. Is there a place for cellular therapy in depression? World J Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 19;11(9):553-567. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i9.553. PMID: 34631460; PMCID: PMC8474995
- Kassem, D.H., Kamal, M.M. Therapeutic efficacy of umbilical cord-derived stem cells for diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis study. Stem Cell Res Ther 11, 484 (2020).
- Gomes A, Coelho P, Soares R, Costa R. Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in type 2 diabetes mellitus: the emerging therapeutic approach. Cell Tissue Res. 2021 Sep;385(3):497-518. doi: 10.1007/s00441-021-03461-4. Epub 2021 May 29. PMID: 34050823.
- Li, Y., Shi, G., Han, Y. et al. Therapeutic potential of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells on aortic atherosclerotic plaque in a high-fat diet rabbit model. Stem Cell Res Ther 12, 407 (2021).
- Waniczek, Marlena, Łukasz Szylberg, Anna Kasperska, Adam Kowalewski, Martyna Parol, Paulina Antosik, Barbara Radecka, and Andrzej Marszałek. 2017. Immunotherapy as a Promising Treatment for Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review. Journal of immunology research (October 3). doi:10.1155/2017/4861570.
- Siregar S, Novesar AR, Mustafa A. Application of Stem Cell in Human Erectile Dysfunction – A Systematic Review. Res Rep Urol. 2022;14:379-388.