DEAR DR. ROACH: I’m a 48-year-old, athletically fit man with excessive body hair on my back, chest and arms. I see that the younger generation of men at the gyms, pools and beaches seem to all groom (shave) their body hair for better appearance. I started trimming down but have not fully shaved. My concern is whether, when you cut hair, it grows faster. When I’m in my upper 60s or 70s and decide to stop, will my body hair grow to 4 inches long? Does your body hair continue to grow at a normal rate when you’re older, or does it slow down? Please advise. — M.C.
ANSWER: No, it’s a myth that cutting or shaving hair makes it grow faster. It certainly might seem to come in more coarsely, since the cut hair under the surface of the skin is thick. But there is no effect on hair growth. Hair growth rates stay roughly the same throughout adulthood.
I am aware that the current trend is for hairlessappearing skin. However, I see a lot of people with infections from shaving. If you do shave, use plenty of mild shaving cream or gel, always use a new, sharp razor, and use a soothing aftershave cream or lotion to help close the pores after shaving.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an 86-year-old male in good health. I take a 40-mg simvastatin and a 150-mcg levothyroxine. I exercise three times a week — one hour with weights and one hour of aerobics (elliptical and treadmill). On the treadmill, I go from a speed of 3.5 for 25 seconds to 6.0 for 25 seconds. My heart rate goes from 89 to 170 (sometimes 165 to 178) but drops back to about 89 when I return to the slower speed. I have heard that your exercise heart rate should be 212 minus your age times 80 percent. That would be 101. Does my 170 for 25 seconds sound OK? — E.N.W.
ANSWER: No, that sounds too fast for an 86-year-old. The formula you mention is one frequently stated, and it isn’t particularly accurate, since there is a great deal of individual variation. But 170 is very fast for an 86-yearold. I wonder if it’s accurate. A pulse monitor, using electrical impulses, is the most accurate, but even these can be fooled by electrical interference. If it really is so fast, I would worry about an exercise-induced tachycardia, and a visit to your doctor or cardiologist would be a good idea, especially if you are having symptoms of chest discomfort or shortness of breath.
. DEAR DR. ROACH: Do peanuts (which are not nuts, but legumes) afford the same health benefits as nuts? — A.
ANSWER: Most of the studies showing benefits of nuts included peanuts as well. Peanuts probably have the same benefits as tree nuts.
Unfortunately, many people are allergic to nuts, and many to peanuts. Those people can’t get the benefits of eating nuts, as it is unsafe, even life-threatening on occasion.