The CHAMP ProjectConcord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP)
CHAMP is a population-based longitudinal study designed to provide a wide range of new information about the health of older men. The study is funded by a 5-year NHMRC Project grant.
Despite the fact that men who reach the age of 65 still have much lower life expectancy than women of that age, very little research has been done on the health of older men. CHAMP has been designed to fill this gap and is arguably the world’s most comprehensive study of the health of older men.
All men involved have blood taken for detailed assessment of their levels of reproductive hormones, including testosterone. While it is known that levels of testosterone decline with age in men, whether or not this decline has any major adverse effects on health is unknown. CHAMP will directly address this issue.
Of particular interest are osteoporosis, muscle weakness, urinary symptoms and dementia. Osteoporosis and fractures are often thought of as female health problems, yet 30% of 60 year old men will have a fracture of some type during the remainder of their life. Muscle weakness may be a greater problem in men than women, with some evidence that men lose muscle at a faster rate than do women as they grow older. Dementia is probably the most disabling condition of old age, yet little research has been done on the special features of dementia in men. CHAMP has a particular focus on testosterone levels and the aetiology of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many older men develop lower urinary tract symptoms such as nocturia, weak stream and dribbling. Furthermore, at least 15% of men over 65 years have some degree of urinary incontinence. It is generally believed that urinary problems in older men are due to their enlarging prostates. However, the causes are likely to be much more complex. Urinary function is assessed using a urinary flow metre and bladder ultrasound to measure post-void residual urine. Blood is being collected for measurement of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).
About 1700 men aged 70 years and over who live in the community in the Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield local government areas have been recruited into CHAMP. The first men were recruited in January 2005. Prior to attending the study clinic in the Medical Centre at Concord Hospital, subjects complete a detailed questionnaire. They then spend two to three hours at the study clinic, where a series of tests are done, including dual energy x-ray densitometry (DEXA) to measure bone, fat and lean mass; the Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination; tests of muscle strength, balance and gait; and spirometry. Blood tests include assays for reproductive hormones, vitamin D, PTH, and markers of bone turnover. Blood is being stored for DNA testing. Most of the baseline interview and examinations will be repeated after two years. These repeat interviews began in January 2007.