Friday, March 14, 2014

Latest Health Research

This is good news for me:

Only small number of symptomatic side effects reported in those taking statins are actually attributable to statins

At a time when the wider prescription of statins is under renewed public scrutiny, a substantial analysis of placebo-controlled randomized trials of statins has found that only a small minority of side effects reported by those taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs are actually attributable to them. Almost all the side effects reported in these trials "occurred anyway when patients were administered placebo," say the investigators
in a study, a meta-analysis involving more than 80,000 patients, reported in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

This, on the other hand, is very bad news:

Any blood pressure reading above normal may increase risk of stroke

Anyone with blood pressure that's higher than the optimal 120/80 mmHg may be more likely to have a stroke, according to a new meta-analysis published in the March 12, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The meta-analysis looked at all of the available research on the risk of developing stroke in people with "prehypertension," or blood pressure higher than optimal but lower than the threshold to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, which is 140/90 mmHg. A total of 19 prospective cohort studies with more than 760,000 participants were included in the analysis, and participants were followed for time periods ranging from four to 36 years. From 25 to 54 percent of study participants had pre-high blood pressure.

The analysis found that people with pre-high blood pressure were 66 percent more likely to develop a stroke than people who had normal blood pressure. The results were the same after researchers adjusted for other factors that could increase the risk of stroke, such as high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking. The researchers determined that nearly 20 percent of strokes in the study population were due to pre-high blood pressure.

These studies belong in the can't win department:

1. I want a  middle aged, midlife do-over:

A. Healthy midlife diet may prevent dementia later

Healthy dietary choices in midlife may prevent dementia in later years, according a doctoral thesis published at the University of Eastern Finland. The results showed that those who ate the healthiest diet at the average age of 50 had an almost 90 per cent lower risk of dementia in a 14-year follow-up study than those whose diet was the least healthy. The study was the first in the world to investigate the relationship between a healthy diet as early as in midlife and the risk of developing dementia later on.

The researchers assessed the link between diet and dementia using a healthy diet index based on the consumption of a variety of foods. Vegetables, berries and fruits, fish and unsaturated fats from milk products and spreads were some of the healthy components, whereas sausages, eggs, sweets, sugary drinks, salty fish and saturated fats from milk products and spreads were indicated as unhealthy.

In addition, those consuming 3 to 5 cups of coffee daily had a smaller risk of dementia than those consuming less or more.

B. Meat and cheese in middle age may be as bad for you as smoking

A high-protein diet during middle age makes you nearly twice as likely to die and four times more likely to die of cancer. Not only is excessive protein consumption linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — are also more susceptible to early death in general.  Protein-lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of diabetes.

People who ate a moderate amount of protein were still three times more likely to die of cancer than those who ate a low-protein diet in middle age, the study shows. Overall, even the small change of decreasing protein intake from moderate levels to low levels reduced likelihood of early death by 21 percent.

2. And now that I'm mostly a vegetarian:

A. Diets high in animal protein may help prevent functional decline in elderly individuals

A diet high in protein, particularly animal protein, may help elderly individuals maintain a higher level of physical, psychological, and social function according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.Men in the highest quartile of animal protein intake had a 39 percent decreased chance of experiencing higher-level functional decline than those in the lowest quartile.

B. Moderate protein intake is good for you after 65

The study shows that while high protein intake during middle age is very harmful, it is protective for older adults: those over 65 who ate a moderate- or high-protein diet were less susceptible to disease.

More bad news for me:

Study shows nearly fivefold increased risk for heart attack after angry outburst

Call it what you will – getting red in the face, hot under the collar, losing your cool, blowing your top – we all experience anger. And while we know that anger is a normal, sometimes even beneficial emotion, we're also aware of the often harmful connection between anger and health. New research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical shows an even more compelling reason to think about getting anger in check – a nearly fivefold increase in risk for heart attack in the two hours following outbursts of anger.

More good news :

1. Why dark chocolate is good for your heart

It might seem too good to be true, but dark chocolate is good for you and scientists now know why. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis.

2. Higher levels of omega-3 in diet are associated with better sleep
3. Increased intake of fish can boost good cholesterol levels
4. High consumption of fish oil may benefit cardiovascular health
5. Canned fruits and vegetables are on par nutritionally with fresh and frozen, and in some cases even better
6. Good physical fitness in midlife (age 50) much less likely to get dementia during the next three decades compared to those with poor physical fitness
7. Strawberries lower cholesterol

Also of interest:

1. Drinking a lot of water doesn't help losing weight
2. Large waist linked to poor health, even among those in healthy body mass index ranges
3. For older drivers one drink may be one too many
4. Vitamin D increases breast cancer patient survival
5. Aspirin May Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk

6. More here

And most interesting of all:

Breast-feeding Benefits Appear to be Overstated, According to Study of Siblings

A new study comparing siblings who were fed differently during infancy suggests that breast-feeding might be no more beneficial than bottle-feeding for 10 of 11 long-term health and well-being outcomes in children age 4 to 14.

The outlier was asthma, which was associated more with breast-feeding than with bottle-feeding.

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