Lovemaking is not an effective weight-loss technique


May 17, 1994|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,United Feature Syndicate

Exercise is far more effective than dieting in helping you to control your weight. When you make love, you're exercising, but you can't do it vigorously enough to make much difference. A passionate kiss is worth between 6 and 12 calories. That means that kissing your loved one passionately twice a day for a year and keeping all other factors the same will help you to lose only one pound. Hardly worth it.

With foreplay, the most you can burn is 100 calories an hour. Studies at the University of Rome, done in a calorimeter, show that when you make love, it makes a difference how you do it. The passive participant burns only 100 calories per hour. However, a very energetic partner can burn 250 calories per hour. Since most people make love for fewer than 15 minutes, they burn only about 60 calories. That equals the calories in a quarter of an ice cream cone.

Q: My 12-year-old son refuses to wear an athletic supporter. Please tell him how athletic supporters prevent hernias.

A: They don't. The testicle is supported by a pouch of skin called the scrotum, which does its job so well that additional support is not necessary. Sperm gets from the testicle to the outside through a tube, called the spermatic cord, that extends just under the skin, from the testicle to the groin, where it passes through the abdominal wall into the belly. The spermatic cord is surrounded closely by the tissue in the belly wall as it passes through.

A hernia occurs when the tissue is torn where it surrounds the spermatic cord as it enters the abdomen. Holding up the scrotum with an athletic supporter does nothing to prevent a tearing of the abdominal wall.

The only sports that require an athletic supporter are those, such as diving, in which the testicle may be hit and twisted. The blood supply to the testicle comes in with the spermatic cord. When the testicle hits the water during diving, it can twist and pinch off its blood supply. An athletic supporter holds the testicle closer to the body so that it is far less likely to twist when hit.

Q: My wife appears to be more forgetful since she entered the menopause. Could this be caused by her loss of estrogen?

A: Recent research shows that estrogen helps to keep a woman smart, elevate her mood and prevent Alzheimer's disease.

What follows is a sampling of the reports:

* Dr. Barbara Sherwin of McGill University showed that women who take estrogen are able to memorize and reason better than those who don't take estrogen.

* Dr. Victor Henderson of the University of California showed that women who take estrogen have a 40 percent less chance of suffering from Alzheimer's disease, a condition that damages the brain permanently. He also reported that women who took estrogen but still got Alzheimer's disease performed better on tests of attention and memory.

* People with Alzheimer's disease have low brain levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that sends messages from one nerve to another. Estrogen increases production of the enzyme that makes acetylcholine and therefore raises brain acetylcholine levels.

* Fat women are far less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than are skinny women. After the menopause, fat is the major source of estrogen. Fat women, therefore, have much higher body levels of estrogen.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.

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