Health Points: Wednesday
- A new study challenges the “fit but fat” theory. Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press reports:
The new study involving nearly 39,000 women helps sort out the combined effects of physical activity and body mass on women's chances of developing heart disease, said Gulati, who wasn't involved in the research.
The study by Harvard-affiliated researchers appears in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.
Participants were women aged 54 on average who filled out a questionnaire at the study's start detailing their height, weight and amount of weekly physical activity in the past year, including walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming. They were then tracked for about 11 years. Overall 948 women developed heart disease.
- Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times wonders if drinking lots of water is healthy. Take a look:
Numerous claims have been made about water — that it prevents headaches, removes dangerous “poisons,” improves the function of various organs and is associated with reduced risk for various diseases. But none of these is supported by scientific evidence. The authors were not even able to find a study leading to the “eight glasses a day” rule, whose origin remains unknown.
The researchers, in the June issue of The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, say some studies have found evidence that drinking extra water helps the kidneys clear sodium, and long-term sodium retention might increase the risk of hypertension, but no clinical significance for the phenomenon has been established. Water also helps clear urea, but urea is not a toxin.
- Apparently, nap time is good for us. Dennis Drabelle of The Washington Post explains:
I never used to be a napper. In fact, daytime slumber was virtually beyond a congenitally wired type like me. My buddies would catch 40 winks on the long bus ride home from our high school, but for me that was out of the question. With age, however, my metabolism has changed. After the double whammy of a late-morning run and lunch, I'm pretty much a goner. I lie down and nod off in much the same way that Marlene Dietrich fell in love in that old song of hers: because I can't help it.
While it lasted, though, my nap resistance put me in sync with the American way of sleep: Do it all at once and strictly at night. Traditionally, we've begrudged ourselves naps. They may be forced on toddlers, recommended for pregnant women and tolerated among senior citizens with nothing better to do, but they've been frowned upon for worker bees in their prime. Recently, however, sleep scientists have discovered advantages to napping, which they view not just as solace but also as something akin to brain food. No longer written off as a cop-out for the weak and the bored, the nap is coming into its own as an element of a healthy life.
If only the millions of others beset with chronic health problems recognized the inestimable value to their physical and emotional well-being of regular physical exercise.
“The single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits, is exercise,” Frank Hu, epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the Harvard Magazine.
- Pennsylvania is moving closer to a statewide ban on smoking. From The Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
A House-Senate conference committee claims it's getting closer to adopting a bill that would ban smoking in most Pennsylvania workplaces, but it can't seem to close the deal.
The deeply divided six-member committee had planned to meet today to vote on compromise legislation to prohibit people from lighting up in most workplaces and public places.
But late yesterday, the chairman called off the meeting, saying the bill still isn't ready despite months of negotiations.
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, a staunch critic of smoking, said the delay should only be for "a short period," meaning, probably, a few days.
- Health insurance premiums are shooting up, while income crawls. HealthDay News is on it:
According to an analysis of government statistics being released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the average dollar amount employees must pay per year for family health coverage went up by 30 percent from 2001 to 2005. During that time, incomes increased by just 3 percent.
"Nationally, insurance premium costs are going up ten times faster than people's incomes," said RWJF spokesman Michael Berman. "And in some regions, the gap is even greater. So what we've tried to do with this report is highlight for the nation's leaders what families already know; that it's getting harder and harder to afford health insurance in America."
- New York City will soon become more bicycle-friendly. TreeHugger passes it on:
Perhaps because Mayor Bloomberg's plan for congestion pricing in New York City has failed, the Big Apple is now trying to make up for it by becoming more bicycle-friendly. As it is, 112,000 New Yorkers bicycle on an average day, an increase of 10% over the last decade. The proposal, which is part of a new Department of Transportation strategic plan, hopes to double that number by 2015, as well as
- Add 200 miles worth of new bicycle lane between 2007 and 2009
- Install 37 bicycle shelters and 5,000 bike parking racks by 2011
- Install 15 additional miles of protected on-street bike lanes by 2010 and 30 miles from 2011 to 2015
- The FDA has rejected Merck’s new cholesterol drug. Bill Berkrot of Reuters reports:
The company declined to discuss details in the so-called not approvable letter from the Food and Drug Administration. It would not comment on whether the agency had asked for further data or new clinical trials.
The drug, which was expected to be called Cordaptive, combines long-acting niacin with a new drug that prevents the flushing side effect common to niacin -- an uncomfortable sensation of burning in the face and neck that leads many patients to discontinue taking it.
Analysts widely expected the drug to be approved, especially after a committee of European regulators last week recommended it be cleared for sale there.
- Honda has invented a “walking assist device.” Big ups to Elijah for finding this one:
It's far from the only strength-boosting exoskeleton out there, but Honda's so-called "walking assist device" is one of the few that you can actually take for a test spin -- if you happen to be attending the Barrier Free 2008 trade show in Osaka, Japan next week, that is. Apparently employing some of the same technology developed by Honda for its ASIMO robot, the walking assistant is able to obtain information from hip angle sensors to help keep its wearer upright, with the device's motors also able to increase the wearer's natural stride. That, Honda says, should make the device ideal for the elderly or those with weakened leg muscles, although we're sure they could find at least a few other buyers if it ever actually hits the market at a reasonable price.
- Jacki Donaldson of That’s Fit passes along 10 quick cures for stress. Check them out:
What follows are 10 of the tips for sabotaging the stress in your life, every one somehow related to nutrition and fitness.
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Eat more fiber
- Eat oatmeal
- Eat almonds
- Drink black tea
- Do yoga
- Mike Howard of Diet Blog has got broccoli’s back. Take a look:
Broccoli also contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane, indoles, kaempferol and isothiocyanates (they'll be a test later). These difficult-to-pronounce compounds have significant anti-cancer and other health effects. Here's what the literature says about it:
- Men who ate more than a serving of either broccoli or cauliflower each week almost halved their risk of developing advanced-stage prostate cancer
- Broccoli appear to have a unique ability to eliminate Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) - a bacteria responsible for ulcers. It has even been shown to eliminate Helicobacter when resistant to antibiotics.
- Crucifers, including broccoli provide significant cardiovascular benefit. Those who diets most frequently included broccoli, tea, onions, and apples-the richest sources of flavonoids-gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.
- The Government Accountability Office claims the White House undermines the EPA. More the Associated Press:
The administration's decision to give the Defense Department and other agencies an early role in the process adds to years of delay in acting on harmful chemicals and jeopardizes the program's credibility, the Government Accountability Office concluded.
At issue is the EPA's screening of chemicals used in everything from household products to rocket fuel to determine if they pose serious risk of cancer or other illnesses.
A new review process begun by the White House in 2004 is adding more speed bumps for EPA scientists, the GAO said in its report, which will be the subject of a Senate Environment Committee hearing Tuesday. A formal policy effectively doubling the number of steps was adopted two weeks ago.
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