Medical

Being Overweight Increases Cancer Risk

A new study from Spain of 54,446 people (Prev Med, Jan 17, 2018) shows that: Overweight women are 12 times more likely to develop cancer and five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than women of normal weight; overweight men are two times more likely to develop cancer than those of normal weight. The study also showed that only 26 percent of the study population had normal weight. Overweight women who lost 12 pounds in their 40s, and did not put it back on, reduced their risk of suffering cancer by 20 percent.

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Inactivity Increases Risk for Knee Pain

Eighty percent of North Americans have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis by age 65, and 60 percent have significant joint pain. More than 700,000 people in the United States have their knees replaced each year. It now looks like inflammation, lack of exercise and being overweight are the major causes of knee joint pain. The majority of people with knee pain have rarely exercised, never competed in sports and are overweight.

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HDL Cholesterol: a New Understanding

For many years HDL cholesterol has been called "good" because it carries plaque-forming particles from your arteries and bloodstream back to your liver, where they can be removed from your body. An exciting new study from Texas Medical Center shows that regular HDL cholesterol may not be very effective in doing this, but another form called Nascent HDL carries these protein-fats much more quickly to your liver to be removed from your circulation (Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, Nov 21, 2017).

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The New Blood Pressure Guidelines

The American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other heart health groups now agree that you have high blood pressure if your blood pressure is above 130/80, not 140/90 as the previous guidelines recommended (American Heart Association's annual meeting, November 13, 2017). This means that 46 percent of North American adults now have high blood pressure, which means that they are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and premature death.

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Both Low and High HDL Can Predict Harm

Having high blood levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol predicts increased risk for heart attacks, but contrary to what we thought in the past, having high levels of "good" (HDL) cholesterol does not necessarily predict protection from heart disease. A recent report from the Copenhagen General Population Study shows that having either low or high levels of HDL cholesterol also predicts increased risk for infections such as gastroenteritis and bacterial pneumonia (European Heart Journal, December 8, 2017).

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Protecting Various Body Parts During Cold-Weather Exercise

You feel cold most in your fingers, ears and toes. During World War II, gunners on the bombers complained bitterly about frozen hands, ears and toes. The Army Air Force added special insulation to their gloves, hats and boots, and the flyers stopped complaining, even though they still suffered frostbite on the skin of their necks and front of their chests. They had unzipped their jackets because they didn’t feel cold. Following are tips to keep various body parts protected during cold weather exercise, followed by descriptions of (and warning signs for) hypothermia and frostbite.

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Deceptive Headlines about Exercise and Heart Attacks a Gross Disservice

"You Can Exercise Yourself to Death, Says New Study" was the headline in The New York Post on October 17, 2017. Headlines like that are likely to discourage people from exercising and thus to shorten their lives. The entire article was a disturbing and offensive misinterpretation of a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago of 3,175 people in the CARDIA study (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Oct. 16, 2017). The study showed that men who spend a lot of time exercising each week have more plaques in their arteries than moderate exercisers, but it did not show that these men suffer more heart attacks.

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Can You Exercise Too Much?

Despite some recent alarmist studies, at this time, the prevailing opinion is that: heart attacks are the result of sudden complete obstruction of blood flow to the heart caused by clots formed by plaques breaking off from arteries leading to the heart, plaques form in arteries primarily from a faulty diet, and exercise helps to prevent heart attacks by stabilizing plaques so that they do not break off to start the process that causes heart attacks.

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New Study Points to Best Use of Stents

A recently published study suggests that stents placed in arteries leading to the heart have not been shown to cure chest pain (Lancet, Nov 2, 2017). Placing stents in people who have heart pain from narrowed arteries and giving them medication is not more effective in relieving pain than just giving them medication and no stents. Stents do help to prevent the heart muscle from dying when put in place within the first few hours after the start of a heart attack. If stents are placed in the heart arteries several hours after the heart attack starts, it can be too late to offer benefits.

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Exercise May Help to Prevent Dementia

An outstanding review of hundreds of articles in the world's scientific literature showed that exercising older people have far less loss of brain function with aging, less brain blood vessel damage, larger hippocampal brain size for better memory, less loss of brain tissue with aging, better spatial memory, better communication between brain nerves and improved ability to learn new facts (Mayo Clin Proc, 2011 Sep; 86(9): 876–884). 

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Tips For Keeping Your Maximum Heart Rate Up as You Age

Your maximum heart rate is the fastest your heart can beat and still pump blood effectively through your body. As you age, your maximum heart rate drops. This means that your heart is weaker and more susceptible to damage, and you can't exercise as fast over distance as you could when you were younger. How fast you can run, cycle, ski or swim over distance is limited by the time that it takes to move oxygen into your muscles. Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, so the faster your heart can beat, the more blood it can pump to your muscles and the faster you can move. 

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Osteoarthritis Has Doubled in the Last Fifty Years

Eighty percent of North Americans have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis by age 65, and 60 percent have significant joint pain. A recent study found that the incidence of knee osteoarthritis (loss of cartilage) has risen at a frightening rate over the last 50 years, reflecting changes from active agrarian or industrial lifestyles to a post-industrial society in which most people do not do a lot of physical labor and gain too much weight (Proc Nat Acad Sci, August 29, 2017;114(35):9332-9336).

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