Not Just Any News

Medical news that has an impact on your life. 

Results from a study presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Vienna created a buzz in medical news recently. The study was done at the University of Siena College of Medicine, and Dr. Andrea Fagiolini was the lead investigator. The study found that serum testosterone levels, and therefore sexual desire, significantly increased in men after 2 weeks of exposure to a light box for 30 minutes per day.

The study included 39 men who had been referred for treatment for hypoactive sexual desire. Their testosterone levels were measured prior to start of the study. The men were given the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM 5 sexual disorders and a rating scale for sexual satisfaction. They were divided into 2 groups. One group received active treatment which consisted of 30 minutes upon rising in the morning sitting in front of a light box at one meter from the cornea with a UV filter rated at 10,000 lux. The placebo group also spent 30 min. in front of a light box, but the intensity was only 100 lux. After 2 weeks, testosterone levels had risen significantly in the active treatment group, while there was no change in the placebo group. The men in the active treatment group reported an increase in sexual satisfaction.  By scientific standards, the change was considered significant.

According to Dr. Fagiolini, testosterone levels naturally decline during the winter months in the northern hemisphere.  Therefore, it makes sense that testosterone levels are somewhat influenced by light.

Certainly the study does have limitations. There were a small number of study subjects. It needs to be replicated. It would be interesting to know how long the increased libido lasted after the study was completed.  Also, does the effect continue if the light therapy is continued longer term?

Light therapy has been shown to be effective for depression, particularly seasonal depressions that are worse in winter. Is it possible that some of these men were depressed? That was not evaluated. Perhaps now there is more than one benefit from light therapy at least for men. Could that benefit extend to women?  A cheap alternative to Viagra would be welcomed by men and women.

The above study was reported by Liam Davenport at on Sept. 20, 2016.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for formal restrictions on the use of codeine in children. The FDA issued a safety alert on codeine in 2012, and required a black box warning in 2013. There have been serious, adverse respiratory reactions in children using codeine for pain or in cough syrup.  Codeine is converted to morphine when metabolized. There is a lot of genetic variability in how this drug is metabolized; some patients are ultra-rapid metabolizers, therefore their blood levels will rise quickly. They are very susceptible to respiratory depression (slowed breathing which can lead to low oxygen and death). Children and people with sleep apnea are especially likely to be ultra-rapid metabolizers.

Surprisingly, codeine is available without a prescription in cough medicine in 28 states.  So the message here is to avoid using codeine containing cough medication for your children and ask questions even when your pediatrician wants to prescribe it.

You can read more about this study, reported by Troy Brown, RN, at




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