Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

From the Bean Pot to the Table


When you have a big, savory pot of beans at hand, there’s no shortage of dishes you can make: salads, soups, even gratins. Beans offer protein and fiber, and they’re a good source of potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid.


Christmas limas are an heirloom bean: big and beautiful, they’re mottled with whites and purples. They’re just as lovely when cooked, turning light and dark reddish brown, with a sensuous texture and sweet, savory flavor. Christmas limas are expensive but worth the occasional splurge.

If you can’t find Christmas limas or don’t want to spend the money, all of this week’s recipes work well with more modestly priced large white limas. You can find them in many grocery stores and in Middle Eastern markets.

Cooked White or Christmas Limas

Greek Salad With Giant Beans and Arugula

Baked Limas With Tomatoes and Peppers

Giant Lima Bean Ragout (or Soup)

Baked Large Limas With Spinach and Feta

General Medicine/Family Medical

Florida seen at risk from Caribbean dengue epidemic

(Reuters) – An epidemic of dengue fever in the Caribbean and Latin America has increased the risk of an outbreak of the sometimes deadly mosquito-borne virus in South Florida, a bioclimatologist and dengue expert said on Tuesday.

Florida’s proximity to affected countries, the flow of people from there and similar tropical climate factors raised the probability of the disease afflicting the southern state after an absence of decades, Dr. Douglas Fuller told Reuters.

EMS systems catch cardiac arrests, and a lot more

(Reuters Health) – San Francisco sends out seven ambulances in response to people thought to be in cardiac or respiratory arrest for every one person that is actually in cardiac arrest, according to a new study of the city’s Emergency Medical Dispatch system.

The results reflect an issue faced by emergency departments around the world: how do you decide where to send a limited number of ambulances and paramedics?

“Using resources most effectively – that’s the name of the game,” Dr. Jeff Clawson told Reuters Health. Clawson, who was not involved in the current study, contributed to the first emergency medical dispatch system and is now with the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bystander CPR — no breaths necessary, studies say

(Reuters) – When someone collapses suddenly, mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing may not be necessary and could lower the chances of survival, researchers said in two studies on Wednesday that found chest compression alone is enough.

The findings add to evidence that the simpler approach works best during cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

“Chest compression alone is at least as good, at least as beneficial,” Dr. Thomas Rea, medical program director for King County Emergency Medical Services in Washington state and chief author of one of the studies, said in a telephone interview.

Does CPR on a moving stretcher work?

(Reuters Health) – Paging script-writers: Pumping on a patient’s chest during CPR while a stretcher careens down a hospital hallway works just fine, Chinese researchers have found.

By straddling patients on the stretcher — think “ER,” the American TV drama — paramedics can get them faster to and from the ambulance while still doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

What hadn’t been clear was how that precarious position would affect the quality of chest compression done by people without the balance of a bull rider.

Protein in urine can forecast kidney disease

(Reuters) – Doctors may be able to watch for kidney injury and protect patients by looking for protein in urine, researchers reported on Thursday.

Patients with the highest levels of protein, or albuminuria, had an almost five-fold increase in the risk of developing acute kidney injury, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Rabbits grow their own joint replacements in study

(Reuters) – Rabbits implanted with artificial bones re-grew their own joints, complete with cartilage, researchers reported on Thursday.

Only a single compound called a growth factor was needed to induce the rabbits’ bodies to remodel the joint tissue, said the team at Columbia University in New York, Clemson University in South Carolina and the University of Missouri.

Such a joint should last longer and work more naturally than a metal joint, the researchers said.

Companies involved in making replacement joints and regenerative medicine are expressing interest, said Columbia’s Jeremy Mao, who led the study.

What prevents falls after strokes? Study: Not much

(Reuters Health) – While most stroke survivors will suffer falls, strategies to prevent these dangerous events continue to fall short, suggests a new study out of Australia.

Up to three in four stroke survivors fall within six months of their stroke, and these falls can lead to serious injuries, including broken bones.

“Although research has shown that fall prevention programs including exercise are effective for older people, it was unclear whether these, or any other interventions, work for people with stroke,” lead researcher Dr. Francis Batchelor of the University of Melbourne, in Australia, told Reuters Health by email.

Study: Alcohol Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

July 28, 2010 — Rheumatoid arthritis patients who drink alcohol tend to have less severe symptoms than those who don’t, a new study finds.

Earlier research has shown that compared to teetotalers, alcohol drinkers are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, a progressive and often disabling inflammatory disease that attacks the joints.

But the study is the first to suggest drinking alcohol can lessen the severity of symptoms in people who already have the disease.

Patients in the study who drank at least 10 alcoholic beverages a month had 20% to 30% less pain and inflammation than patients who didn’t drink alcohol, rheumatologist and study co-author James Maxwell of England’s University of Sheffield tells WebMD.

While he acknowledges more study is needed to confirm the association, Maxwell says the evidence is mounting that moderate alcohol consumption reduces both the risk and severity of rheumatoid arthritis.

“Generally speaking, it appears that drinking alcohol in moderation may benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis.”

Sniffing Device Helps Disabled People Move, Write

July 26, 2010 — Israeli scientists have developed a device that allows severely disabled people to sniff to precisely control objects such as wheelchairs and personal digital assistants, a new study says.

The nasal-mask device works so well that disabled people who can’t move at all can learn to write text messages and drive electric wheelchairs by sniffing, researchers report in the July issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Noam Sobel, PhD, of the department of neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, and colleagues set out to find a way to allow people with disabilities ranging from quadriplegia to “locked-in syndrome” to learn how to control devices with their noses just as they would using a joystick or computer mouse.

The Weizmann Institute has filed for a patent on sniff-controlled technology, which the researchers report as a possible conflict of interest.

New Pain Drug May Be Alternative to Oxycodone

July 23, 2010 — An extended-release form of the pain medication tapentadol has fewer gastrointestinal side effects than oxycodone when it’s used for pain relief in people with osteoarthritis or chronic low back pain, a new study shows.

The painkiller, called tapentadol ER, could provide a new alternative for the relief of chronic pain if approved by the FDA.

Researchers say they examined the safety and tolerability of the drug in people with chronic knee or hip osteoarthritis pain or pain in the lower back, compared to people taking the better known and older oxycodone CR.

The study, published in the journal Pain Practice, shows that tapentadol ER is associated with a lower overall incidence of adverse gastrointestinal problems than oxycodone CR. Fewer patients taking tapentadol ER tablets suffered constipation, nausea, and bouts of vomiting than people on oxycodone, the study shows.

Pets, Dust May Worsen Ragweed Allergies

July 23, 2010 — People who have hay fever and who also have an allergy to cats, dogs, dust mites, or grass pollen have hay fever symptoms that are more severe and occur earlier on, according to a new study.

Hay fever season occurs in late summer when ragweed is in full bloom. However, not everyone allergic to ragweed experiences symptoms at the same time or in the same way. An estimated 36 million Americans have seasonal allergies. Ragweed is a plant that can grow anywhere; it is common throughout the Northeast, but it also grows in the South and Midwest and is a major cause of late-summer and fall allergy symptoms. People allergic to ragweed experience itchy eyes, runny noses, and sneezing.

For Some, Low Levels of ‘Good’ Cholesterol May Not Be Bad

July 23, 2010 — Traditionally, patients at risk of heart disease are told to lower their levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. But patients taking statin drugs who reduce their LDL cholesterol to very low levels may not need to boost their HDL cholesterol levels, according to a new study.

”Once we get the levels of LDL down to very low levels, it becomes unclear whether HDL is an important determinant of [cardiovascular] risk,” says researcher Paul Ridker, MD, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston

Heatwave smog turns Muscovites into heavy smokers

Reuters) – The worst smog to hit Moscow in almost a decade has sent pollution 10 times above safe levels and Russia’s chief lung doctor on Wednesday said residents were inhaling the equivalent of 40 cigarettes every few hours.

The city of more than 10 million has been sweltering under a record breaking heatwave exacerbated by peat fires in areas surrounding the capital.

With street temperatures hitting almost daily all-time highs, the peat fire’s smoke and its cinder smell have crept into sultry offices, homes and restaurants.

“The concentration of carbon monoxide and suspended particles in Moscow surged up to 10 times above the limit last night,” Alexei Popikov, chief specialist at Mosekomonitoring, a city government agency overseeing air pollution, told Reuters.


Stop-Smoking Aid Chantix Sparks Safety Concerns

July 27, 2010 — Evidence is accumulating that the stop-smoking drug Chantix is linked with unprovoked acts and thoughts of aggression and violence, according to a new report.

The drug is so potentially dangerous that its use should be restricted to exclude police, military, and similar occupations in which workers carry weapons, says Thomas J. Moore, senior scientist for drug safety and policy at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham, Pa. Moore is one of three co-authors of the new report on the drug, published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

“My colleagues and I have been concerned about the safety profile of [Chantix] since our first report [warning of adverse events] in 2008,” Moore tells WebMD.

FDA considering changes to risky drug safeguards

(Reuters) – Safeguards to protect patients from risky drugs should have less paperwork and more consistency, drugmakers and pharmacy representatives said this week during a U.S. Food and Drug Administration meeting.

The drug industry acknowledged the benefit of so-called risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, or REMS, a set of disclosure and educational tools to protect consumers from drugs with potentially serious side effects.

But it is requesting a lighter regulatory touch. The FDA said it would consider some changes.

Health group sues FDA over antimicrobial soap

(Reuters) – A nonprofit environmental group has sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, claiming the agency failed to regulate toxic chemicals found in “antimicrobial” soap and other personal care products.

The National Resources Defense Council alleges that two common ingredients, triclosan and triclocarban, can damage reproductive organs, sperm quality and the production of thyroid and sex hormones. It also names U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a defendant.

AstraZeneca bloodthinner goes before U.S. experts

Maryland (Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc’s experimental blood thinner goes before U.S. advisers on Wednesday, facing questions over why a trial of the potential blockbuster drug failed to cut heart attacks and deaths in North American patients.

Brilinta, with expected annual sales of more than a billion dollars, is seen as key to AstraZeneca’s growth as the company looks to new medicines to make up for lost sales from coming patent expirations on some of its best-selling medicines.

Members of a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will hear from company officials and agency reviewers before voting Wednesday afternoon on whether to recommend approval of Brilinta.

H1N1/Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics

New TB test must reach more people: expert

(Reuters) – A new diagnostic tool that reduces to two hours the time needed to detect drug-resistant tuberculosis must be made available to populations vulnerable to the disease, a World Health Organization expert said.

Asia carries more than half the global caseload of drug resistant TB, which is very difficult to treat.

Patients need to take medication for up to two years and the worst type of TB, for which there is no cure, kills one out of every two patients.

“New diagnostic tools offer the opportunity to increase the sensitivity of TB diagnosis in general and to shorten the diagnosis of MDR-TB (multidrug-resistant TB) from eight weeks to two hours,” Catharina van Weezenbeek, regional adviser on TB for the WHO in the Western Pacific region, said on Thursday.

Eastern Africa polio-free, but cases found in Russia

(Reuters) – Eastern Africa is free of polio again, with four countries — Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda — having reported no cases of the crippling disease for more than a year, U.N. and other aid agencies said Friday.

But the virus appears to have spread from Tajikistan, where it has paralyzed 437 children since April, to infect 6 ethnic Tajiks in Russia, according to the World Health Organization.

“It was detected in a few individuals in Russia in Tajik communities. An investigation is going on, we don’t know where infection took place,” WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer told Reuters.

Companies start shipping U.S. flu vaccines

(Reuters) – Two flu vaccine makers said on Friday they had started shipping supplies for the U.S. market, one of the earliest starts ever to distributing seasonal influenza vaccine.

And U.S. officials said they were changing the labeling on a vaccine made by Australia’s CSL Ltd because it appears to have caused a higher than usual rate of seizures in children.

Sanofi Aventis said it was shipping 70 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine — its largest production run ever — and GlaxoSmithKline said it was shipping 30 million doses of partner ID Biomedical’s FluLaval vaccine.


Two die in Florida from mosquito-borne disease

Florida (Reuters) – Two Florida residents have died from Eastern equine encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease that is rare among humans but has infected a rising number of horses in the state, health officials said on Friday.

Both deaths were in the Tampa area, where a woman died on July 1 and an infant died on Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Health Department said. The disease known as EEE causes brain inflammation. There is no vaccine for humans.

“It’s a fairly rare disease,” said Steve Huard, spokesman for the Hillsborough health department.

Women’s Health

Smoking may worsen outcome of pregnancy complication

The findings may not sound surprising. But they actually present something of a paradox, as past studies have linked smoking to a reduced risk of developing preeclampsia in the first place.

Preeclampsia is a syndrome marked by a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy and a buildup of protein in the urine due to stress on the kidneys. Most women with preeclampsia deliver a healthy baby, but the condition can develop into a life-threatening condition called eclampsia, which can cause seizures or coma.

For persistent fibroids, a less invasive option

(Reuters Health) – A procedure that stops the blood supply to fibroids could be a safe and effective alternative to hysterectomy for women whose fibroid symptoms won’t go away, according to a new study.

But some who get uterine artery embolization – which is less invasive, cheaper, and easier to recover from than a hysterectomy – might still eventually need a hysterectomy to relieve their symptoms, the results of the study in 150 women show.

Pregnancy-related diabetes likely to recur: study

(Reuters Health) – Pregnant women with a history of pregnancy-related diabetes, also called gestational diabetes, have a good chance of developing the condition again, suggests a large new study.

Researchers found that the risk of having gestational diabetes during a future pregnancy increases with each previously affected one — from 41 percent after the first to 57 percent after two pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes typically strikes during late pregnancy and is characterized by high blood sugar that results from the body’s impaired use of insulin. While it rarely causes birth defects, complications can arise that threaten the health of both mom and baby.

“Because of the silent nature of gestational diabetes, it is important to identify early those who are at risk and watch them closely during their prenatal care,” lead researcher Dr. Darios Getahun of Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group, in Pasadena, told Reuters Health in an email.

Meth use in pregnancy endangers mom and baby

(Reuters Health) – New research shows that babies born to methamphetamine-using moms face much higher risks of serious complications, compared to babies not exposed in the womb to this illegal street drug.

Life-threatening pregnancy complications, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, are also more common among women who use methamphetamine while pregnant, the researchers found.

The pill equally effective in obese, thin women

(Reuters Health) – Despite studies suggesting that birth control pills might not work as well in obese women, a new study suggests that they prevent pregnancy the same no matter what a woman weighs.

As long as a woman-heavy or thin–took the pill consistently, Dr. Carolyn L. Westhoff of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and her colleagues found, it prevented her ovaries from producing eggs. Westhoff and her team report their findings in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Genetic Marker Linked to Ovarian Cancer Risk

July 22, 2010 — A newly identified genetic marker may help predict ovarian cancer risk, Yale University researchers report online in Cancer Research. Variations in the KRAS gene occur in one-quarter of women with ovarian cancer, and 61% of women with ovarian cancer who have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer.

“For many women out there with a strong family history of ovarian cancer who previously have had no identified genetic cause for their family’s disease, this might be it for them,” says study researcher Joanne B. Weidhaas, MD, PhD, an associate professor of therapeutic radiology and researcher for the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Conn., in a news release. “Our findings support that the KRAS-variant is a new genetic marker of ovarian cancer risk.”

Men’s Health

Aggressive Treatment for Prostate Cancer Is the Norm

uly 26, 2010 — More than 75% of men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer undergo aggressive treatment — either complete removal of the prostate or radiation therapy, according to a new study.

That’s true, the researchers found, even in men with a low level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) of under 4 nanograms per milliliter, one of the factors taken into account when treatment decisions are made.

”If we knew for sure everyone with a PSA under 4 would not die of prostate cancer, case closed,” says researcher Mark N. Stein, MD, a medical oncologist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and assistant professor of medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick.

But that’s far from true, Stein says. And that makes the balance between overtreatment and undertreatment difficult, he says. The report is appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Pediatric Health

Are kids’ ER visits for food allergies on the rise?

(Reuters Health) – Children’s visits to the emergency room for serious food-allergy reactions may be on the rise, if the experience of one major U.S. medical center is an indicator.

Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston found that the number of food-induced allergic reactions treated in their ER more than doubled over six years — from 164 cases in 2001, to 391 in 2006.

Can secondhand smoke hurt kids’ grades?

(Reuters Health) – Children and teenagers exposed to secondhand smoke at home may get poorer grades than their peers from smoke-free homes, a study of Hong Kong students suggests.

Secondhand smoke is a well-known health threat to children, being linked to increased risks of asthma, as well as bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Studies have also found a connection between smoking during pregnancy and higher risks of childhood behavior problems and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Some research has also found that children exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb or at home may trail their peers when it comes to cognitive abilities like reasoning and remembering. But whether secondhand smoke itself is to blame remains unclear.

Damp house linked to kids’ risk of nasal allergies

(Reuters Health) – Children who live in damp, water-damaged homes may be more likely than other kids to develop nasal allergies, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that of nearly 1,900 Finnish children they followed for six years, those who lived in homes with dampness or mold problems were more likely to develop allergic rhinitis during the study period.

Allergic rhinitis refers to symptoms of congestion, sneezing and runny nose caused by allergens such as pollen, dust, animal dander or mold.

In this study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, 16 percent of children whose parents reported dampness in the home went on to be diagnosed with allergic rhinitis over the next six years. That compared with just under 12 percent of children whose parents reported no dampness problems — that is, no visible signs of water damage to the ceilings, walls or floors, and no visible mold or mold odor in the home.

Head Lice Grow Resistant to Treatments

July 26, 2010 — There is little else that triggers such a visceral reaction from parents than the words “head lice,” especially when they are uttered in conjunction with an outbreak in their child’s classroom or summer camp.

But when it comes to these creepy, crawly, head-dwelling creatures, there is nothing to fear except fear itself, say researchers in an updated report on the diagnosis and treatment of head lice in the August issue of journal of Pediatrics.

Yes, head lice are gross, but they are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene. They don’t spread any disease, and controversial no-nit policies, which state that if your child has any sign of lice or their eggs (nits) they should be kept home, should be abandoned, they say.

“It’s only a bug on your child, not in your child like the flu or pneumonia,” study author Barbara L. Frankowski, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont in Burlington, says in an email. “Healthy children — which includes children with head lice infestation — should be in school learning.”

Mental Health

Mental health experts ask: Will anyone be normal?

(Reuters) – An updated edition of a mental health bible for doctors may include diagnoses for “disorders” such as toddler tantrums and binge eating, experts say, and could mean that soon no-one will be classed as normal.

Leading mental health experts gave a briefing on Tuesday to warn that a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is being revised now for publication in 2013, could devalue the seriousness of mental illness and label almost everyone as having some kind of disorder.

Citing examples of new additions like “mild anxiety depression,” “psychosis risk syndrome,” and “temper dysregulation disorder,” they said many people previously seen as perfectly healthy could in future be told they are ill.

“It’s leaking into normality. It is shrinking the pool of what is normal to a puddle,” said Til Wykes of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.

AIDS Patients Cite Stigma, Depression

July 22, 2010 — Seventeen percent of people with HIV/AIDS have not told their spouses or partners about their health status, even though 96% reported having disclosed their HIV status to at least one person, an international survey finds.

The survey of more than 2,000 HIV-infected people in a dozen countries reveals that in the U.S., 42% of people with the virus feel isolated because of their infection, compared to 37% worldwide. And 42% of people with HIV in the U.S. report feeling depressed.

Certain Epilepsy Drugs Linked to Suicide

July 26, 2010 — New research challenges the idea that all epilepsy drugs are associated with an increased risk for suicide.

The study found that certain newer epilepsy medications, but not older ones, were linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in patients taking the drugs for epilepsy.

Since early 2008, the FDA has required a warning on newer and older epilepsy drugs after the agency’s own research review linked use of the medications to a nearly doubled risk of suicidal behaviors or thoughts in patients with epilepsy compared to those taking a placebo.

In the newly reported study, use of the newer epilepsy drugs Keppra, Topamax, and Sabril was associated with a threefold increase in the risk of self-harm or suicidal behavior.

But other newer epilepsy drugs, including Lamictal, Lyrica, Neurontin, and Trileptal, were found to have no increased risk for such outcomes.

And researchers say the study vindicates conventional epilepsy drugs such as Depacon, Depakote, Dilantin, Tegretol, and Zarontin.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the Brain

July 23, 2010 — Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be in the brain, not in the mind.

IBS patients tend to suffer anxiety and depression, but they tire of being told their symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, and/or pain are all in their minds.

Now there’s evidence that their underlying problem may be due to the structure of their brains, says Emeran Mayer, MD, professor of medicine, physiology, and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Discovering structural changes in the brain … demonstrates an ‘organic’ component to IBS and supports the concept of a brain-gut disorder,” Mayer says in a news release. “The finding removes the idea once and for all that IBS symptoms are not real and are ‘only psychological.’ The findings will give us more insight into better understanding IBS.”

Social Ties Can Add Years to Your Life

July 27, 2010 — Good friends and family do more than make life worth living. These relationships can actually add years to your life.

A new study shows that people with lots of close friends and family around will likely live a lot longer than  lonesome people. The study appears in the July issue of PLoS Medicine.

The protective effect of having lots of healthy and fulfilling relationships is comparable to that of quitting smoking, the study authors state.

“Our social relationships are important not only to our quality of life, but also our longevity,” says study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in an email.  “Throughout human history, we have relied on others for survival such as protection and  food, and despite modern advancements that may [help with] certain aspects of survival so that we can live more independently, it appears that our relationships nonetheless still impact odds of survival,” she says.


For blood pressure, can you be fit but fat?

(Reuters Health) – If you’re trying to bring your blood pressure to healthy levels, a new study suggests that how much you weigh is more important than how fit you are.

As expected, the study found that overweight or obese people were more likely to have a high systolic blood pressure – the top number in a blood pressure reading. But for those with a high body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight versus height — how in shape they were only had a small impact on their blood pressure.

The results suggest that people who are trying to decrease their risk for high blood pressure should focus on losing weight however they can most effectively do that, the authors say, and that increasing physical fitness should be a secondary goal.

Sit More, Die Sooner

July 22, 2010 — Sit at leisure, die at haste, an American Cancer Society study finds.

In the 14-year study, people who spent at least 6 hours of their daily leisure time sitting died sooner than people who sat less than 3 hours.

And people who both sit a lot and exercise little are at even higher risk of death, find ACS epidemiologist Alpa V. Patel, PhD, and colleagues.

The effect is stronger for women than for men, but significant for both sexes.

Recording Weight Online May Keep Pounds Off

July 27, 2010 — People who have lost weight and who are diligent in using an interactive web site on a regular basis may find it easier to maintain their weight loss, a new study suggests.

Researchers say a study involving 348 people found that those who logged in to an interactive weight loss maintenance web site to record their weight at least once a month for 2.5 years maintained more weight loss than participants who logged in less frequently. Participants could also enter information on their diet, exercise, and other weight loss activities.

The web-based weight maintenance intervention program was part of a study called the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial that lasted three years and included more than 1,600 people across the country.

Calcium supplements may raise risk of heart attack

(Reuters) – Calcium supplements, which many people consume hoping to ward off osteoporosis, may increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 30 percent, researchers reported Friday.

These tiny tablets which carry concentrated doses of calcium were also associated with higher incidences of stroke and death, but they were not statistically significant.

The researchers advised people consuming calcium supplements to seek advice from their doctors, take more calcium-rich foods and try other interventions like exercise, not smoking and keeping a healthy weight to prevent osteoporosis.

“People regard calcium supplements as natural but they are really not natural at all,” Ian Reid, professor of medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said in a telephone interview.

‘Excellence’ centers no better for bariatric surgery

(Reuters Health) – For weight-loss surgery, “Centers of Excellence” may not be any safer than their undistinguished peers, a study of 25 Michigan hospitals suggests.

Yet the overall rate of serious complications — less than three percent — was “relatively low,” the new report said.

The findings, which appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association, come in the wake of widespread safety concerns over weight-loss procedures. (See Reuters Health story of July 26, 2010.)

“Our results show that, at least in the state of Michigan, bariatric surgery is now remarkably safe,” Nancy J. O. Birkmeyer, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

Mom’s pregnancy diet not tied to wheezing risk

(Reuters Health) – A woman’s overall diet during pregnancy may not be related to her child’s risk of developing wheezing problems by preschool age, a new study suggests.

Wheezing refers to a high-pitched whistling sound, most obvious while exhaling, that is usually caused by blockages in the small breathing tubes in the chest.

Occasional wheezing is common in infancy and early childhood, and is often related to viral infections. But young children with recurrent wheezing episodes are more likely than other children to develop asthma, particularly if they have risk factors such as family history of allergies and asthma.

Is a stiff hamstring more susceptible to a strain?

(Reuters Health) – While a stiff leg may help you run faster and jump higher, it may also make you more prone to sitting on the sideline, hints a new study of Australian Rules Football players.

Researchers found significantly more preseason leg and hamstring stiffness among players who would later sustain a strain, compared to those who maintained healthy hamstrings throughout their practices and matches.

Australian Rules Football, a variant of football, is a high-intensity, intermittent running game, combining skills such as kicking, hand passing, and jumping. It is played on a large oval-shaped grass field.

“Hamstring injuries occur regularly in Australian Rules Football,” lead researcher Mark Watsford of the University of Technology in Sidney, Australia, told Reuters Health in an email.

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