More evidence that drugs are not the answer: obesity negates benefit of LDL lowering

 

Data collected between 1988 and 2006 and presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting last month showed modest improvements in two risk factors for cardiovascular disease: the number of Americans who do not smoke increased from 45% to 50%, and the number of Americans who have achieved optimal (below 100 mg/dl)  LDL levels increased from 22% to 28%.

But these improvements are counteracted by the rapidly growing prevalence of obesity that has occurred in the same time frame. 

American adults’ average body mass index (BMI) went from 26.5 to 28.8 (25 and above is overweight, 30 and above is obese). Incidence of overweight in children went from 20% to 35%.

What have been the consequences of this increase in body weight?

“Obesity is not benign.”

-Dr. Tiffany Powell, lead author of the study1

Obesity robs people of their quality of life as they age – as reported in the International Journal of Obesity, obese individuals had double the rates of disability compared to normal-weight individuals.2

The number of Americans with healthy blood pressure has fallen by 5%. The number of those with good blood sugar control have decreased by 9%. Most alarming is that left ventricular mass in children, a predictive indicator for future heart disease and stroke, has also risen - their hearts are being forced to work too hard to pump blood to their excess body fat.

How will this affect the incidence of cardiovascular disease in this country?

“Many people feel the decline in [heart] risk factors is leveling off and there will be an acceleration of cardiovascular disease.”

-AHA spokesman Dr. Roger Blumenthal1

A large part of the problem is that our society views these factors – hypercholesterolemia, poor blood sugar control, hypertension, obesity – each as a separate issue with its own drug-based method of management. But they are not separate. The truth is, the same nutrient-rich, vegetable-based diet combined with regular exercise is effective in preventing and reversing all of these conditions. 

References:

1. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/hscout/2009/11/17/hscout633216.html?feed=rss_forbeslife_health

2. Walter S et al. Mortality and disability: the effect of overweight and obesity. International Journal of Obesity (2009) 33, 1410–1418

 

Healthy Lifestyle Cuts Risk of Chronic Disease

Here’s a revelation! If you don’t smoke, exercise, eat right and maintain a healthy body weight you are less likely to get sick, so says a survey of nearly 24,000 adults in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Most participants had one to three of these health factors, fewer than 4 percent had zero healthy factors and 9 percent had all four factors. Over an average of 7.8 years of follow-up, 2,006 participants developed new cases of diabetes (3.7 percent), heart attack (0.9 percent), stroke (0.8 percent) or cancer (3.8 percent).

After adjusting for age, sex, education level and occupation, individuals with more healthy lifestyle factors were less likely to develop chronic diseases. Participants who had all four factors at the beginning of the study had a 78 percent lower risk of developing any of the chronic diseases during the follow-up period than those who had none of the healthy factors. The four factors were associated with a 93 percent reduced risk of diabetes, 81 percent reduced risk of heart attack, 50 percent reduced risk of stroke and 36 percent reduced risk of cancer.

The largest reduction in risk was associated with having a BMI lower than 30, followed by never smoking, at least 3.5 hours of physical activity and then adhering to good dietary principles.

I know, pretty obvious advice, but it doesn’t hurt to remind people. Like this. In February, scientists determined if people exercised more and ate better it would help stifle global cancer rates.

Via Newswise.

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Cutting Alcohol, Meat and Smoking Lowers Colon Cancer Risk

Geez, I know people who do all three—in one sitting! If you know someone like this too, show them this.

New research in the International Journal of Cancer suggests lifestyle changes—such as eating less red meat, not smoking, avoiding alcohol and exercising—may lower your risk of colon cancer.

Scientists analyzed 100 studies on colon cancer risk, finding that high intake of red and processed meats, smoking, obesity and diabetes were associated with a 20% increased in the risk.

As for alcohol, people averaging one drink or more each day had a 60% higher risk of cancer. However, people who exercised regularly were 20% less likely to develop colorectal cancer.

Makes sense! Especially since last week a report came out saying vegetarians—i.e. people who don’t eat meat—have less cancer than meat eaters.

And previous findings reveal smoking and drinking heighten risk of bowel cancer, but eating fruits and vegetables, protect against cancer. Sweet!

Via Reuters.

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Smoking and Drinking Leads to Bowel Cancer

Conducted by The George Institute for International Health, a new study suggests alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking drastically increase risk of bowel cancer. Data revealed drinking more than seven drinks a week is associated with a 60% higher risk of cancer, compared to non-drinkers, and smoking—along with obesity, diabetes and consumption of red and processed meat—was linked to a 20% greater risk of bowel cancer; via ScienceDaily.

Alcohol is tricky. Most of us equate it with a good time—I still do—but it’s not healthy. Reports have shown booze raises risk of breast cancer and hardens arteries. Dr. Fuhrman recommends avoiding alcohol, saying even moderate drinking is dangerous. Smoking is a bad too.

In 2008, California’s initiatives to stop smoking saved the state $86 billion in healthcare costs. In Pueblo, Colorado heart attacks have dropped 40% since smoking was banned in public places.

 

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Vegetables Boost Cancer Risk in Smokers?

Time for a crazy report! New findings in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, claim smokers my increase their chances of developing colon cancer by eating fruits and vegetables. For the study, 500,000 people in 10 European countries were surveyed on their eating and smoking habits over 8.5 years and data suggests normally healthful substances in fruit and vegetables may enhance carcinogenic potential of tobacco smoke. However, in nonsmokers high intake of fruits and vegetables reduced risk; the AFP reports.

Listen, smoking is a bad idea. Here are a few reasons why. Reports have shown parents who smoke risk harming their kids’ hearts, secondhand smoke leads to allergies and can also increase risk of head and neck cancer. As for veggies, they are potent cancer-fighters.

In related news, after Pueblo, Colorado passed a municipal law banning smoking from work environments and public places the rate of heart attacks dropped 40%.

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Booze Raises Breast Cancer Risk in the Other Breast

Put down the tequila! Appearing in the American Journal of Epidemiology experts believe alcohol use may increase women’s chances of developing cancer in one breast after having already having had cancer in the other. For the study, researchers compared patterns of drinking and cigarette smoking among 708 women with a history of cancer and 1,399 who did not. Drinkers who had breast cancer were 30% more likely to get it again in the other breast but oddly no association was found with smoking; via Reuters.

Other studies claim alcohol harms the heart and even shrinks brain volume overtime, about 1.9% per decade. Now, in addition to eating right, exercising and breastfeeding, Dr. Fuhrman recommends not drinking avoiding or smoking as ways to prevent breast cancer.

And drinking when you’re pregnant is a really bad idea. I’m sure most women don’t, but a previous report suggested some women fib about boozing while they’re pregnant.

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A Life of Poverty Boosts Heart Risks

Not what you want to hear right now. New findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggest the longer an individual remains in poverty, the more likely they are to develop heart disease. Studying more than 1,800 adults in the U.S. those who were disadvantaged during childhood and adulthood were 82% more likely to develop cardiovascular problems, compared to well off individuals. This is most likely do to more risk factors, such poor people are more likely to smoke and be obese; Reuters investigates.

In past, during the Great Depression, some research indicates death rates actually increased, occurrences of cirrhosis, suicide and homicide, which makes sense considering the harsh times. Also, new reports claim as money becomes harder and harder to come by, purchases of bad, cheaper foods like fast food and pasta are the rise. Eek!

I think we’re all feeling the pinch right now, but there are ways to stay heart healthy, most importantly don’t let your diet slack, look for marked down fruits and veggies and avoiding processed foods and secondhand smoke.

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Hip Fractures Increase Mortality in Men and Women

I nearly broke a hip shoveling snow yesterday! But new research in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims older men and women, age 60 and older, are at higher risk of mortality, i.e. death, 5 to 10 years after sustaining low-trauma fractures to the hips. Participants had suffered a break between April 1989 and May 2007 and scientists determined the risk factors associated with mortality were the bone break, weak quadriceps, smoking and low physical activity; Journal Watch reports.

Busted hips aren’t part of life, unless you get hit by a truck or something. Watch your diet, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid animal products, salt and caffeine. Get plenty of vitamin D, it boosts absorption of calcium. And exercise, toning muscles keeps bones strong. Try using a rowing machine, doing back extensions, and for women, wearing a weighted vest builds strength and burns calories.

Now, time for a shameless plug! If you’re a man or women worried about your bones and developing osteoporosis, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s new DVD. It’ll give you strong bones for life!

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Health-Points: Friday 2.27.09

  • I guess squirrels don’t get peanut allergies. But kids don’t have to get them either! A new study in the journal Allergy claims kids fed increasing amounts of peanut flour over a period of six weeks actually built up higher thresholds to peanuts over time; via FoodNavigator.

 

Image credit: ~Jetta Girl~

Staying Heart Healthy During the Recession

It’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The recession, depression or whatever we’re in. People are worried. Things are bad! And during an economic slump people’s health is at risk, particularly their diets. History shows candy consumption goes up and newer reports reveal people eat more fast food and less fruits and veggies when money is tight.

Resist the temptation! Eat your fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. And, listen to these tips by a professor from the University of California for staying heart healthy during the recession, such as exercising more, eating lots of fresh simple foods at home, avoiding secondhand smoke, and find ways or activities to reduce stress; via HealthDay News.

And ignore companies like Krispy Kreme who hock free coffee and doughnuts to mark the Great Depression. Oh, you’re broke? Now get fat too!

Image credit: Felice de Sena Micheli