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Free health 'MOTs' in world's biggest male ageing study

23 Aug 2007

Researchers at The University of Manchester are offering free health 'MOTs' to older men from South Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities as part of the world's biggest study of male ageing.

Professor Fred Wu and his team at the Andrology Research Unit and the Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC) Unit of Epidemiology need 400 ethnic volunteers aged 40-79 for the latest stage of the European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) of more than 3,200 older men across the continent.

They will carry out a range of tests at a time and venue to suit the volunteer, then repeat the process in five years to see how their health and fitness has changed.

Those taking part in the confidential study will receive a report that they can keep as well as £30 for taking part and travel expenses.

It could even save their lives - an EMAS pilot study in Manchester revealed three cases of undiagnosed cancer, two of the prostate gland and one of the blood (leukaemia).

The study is being supported by the Central Mosque in Victoria Park, Manchester.

Professor Wu explains: "An MOT on your car costs you £50 but with this 'MOT' on your health, it is you who gets paid.

"Not only will you get a full health check, you will help your sons and grandsons have better health in later life thanks to your contribution to our research. For example diabetes and heart disease are disproportionately prevalent in Afro-Caribbean and South Asian men living in the UK - this study could help us find out why, leading to the effective treatment and preventative measures."

He added: "It will also help us compare the health of men in the UK with that of men in other European countries. It is an unparalleled opportunity to investigate what is a sadly neglected area of research: the health and wellbeing of older men."

The study, which started in 2001, aims to explore the causes of midlife deterioration in wellbeing in men. Problems such as physical frailty, obesity, low moods, sleep disturbance and sexual dysfunction can severely curtail quality of life and increase disabilities and dependency in ageing men. The study will assess the impact of age-related decline in hormone production on the men's health status. It will also investigate whether regional and inter-individual variations in these health problems can be explained by different rates of decline in hormone production, particularly testosterone.

Professor Wu started the study by recruiting 400 white volunteers from Greater Manchester in 2001. This revealed a surprising picture - Manchester men were healthier than many of their European counterparts with more than 90% claiming they were in good health, a result only bettered by Sweden, Belgium and Italy. They were less likely to smoke, less than four per cent reported depression requiring medical intervention and two thirds were happy with their sex lives!

The team are now carrying out their five-year follow-up checks on this group.

Professor Wu says: "We are excited about carrying out the next stage of the study. Manchester is a multi-cultural society and has a population that is perfect for this large, unique study which promises to answer so many important questions in an area of research in much need of attention.

 "The strength of the study is also its weakness - it is difficult to identify and recruit men from our community as they do not use health services readily and at the same time are less likely also to take part in health surveys. In addition, the communities they live in are not often the subject of research such as this. This is an opportunity to redress that balance."

* To take part in the study, contact Carly Moseley on 0161 276 6670 or Gill Aarons on 0161 276 6353 or email info@emasweb.org.

Ends

For more information or to arrange an interview with Professor Fred Wu contact Media Relations Officer Mikaela Sitford on 0161 275 2111.

Editor's Note:
The University of Manchester's Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences boasts an annual research income of £51 million, almost a third of the University's total research income. There are 7,600 undergraduate students and 1,600 postgraduates on award-bearing courses. More students graduate each year from the School of Medicine than from any other medical school in the UK. There is a strong organisational capability for undertaking cross-faculty teaching and research activity in partnership with the public sector and industry. Excellent links also exist with the NHS in terms of undertaking pioneering medical and clinically based research. The Faculty is a key stakeholder in the Greater Manchester Research Alliance.
The Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC), founded in 1936, raises funds to promote medical research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritic conditions; to educate medical students, doctors and allied healthcare professionals about arthritis; and provide information to the general public. arc is the fourth largest medical research charity in the UK and the only charity in the UK solely dedicated to investigating arthritis in all its forms. Millions of pounds are provided every year for grants funding research, education and training.
For more information on the European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) see http://www.emas.man.ac.uk/main.asp