Colorectal cancer rates have increased among people under the age of 50 and that’s why the American Cancer Society is now recommending adults undergo screening starting at age 45, rather than 50. The rate of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 has risen 51 percent since 1994 yet doctors are struggling to pinpoint the reason. Colorectal cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer among adults, and about 50,000 americans are expected to die of the disease in 2018.
For years, public health experts have been encouraging women to take folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects but a study in the American Journal of Public Health shows many women still don’t take them. The study shows fewer than five percent of low-income urban mothers take daily folic acid supplements before getting pregnant. Previous studies prove that use of these prenatal vitamins can prevent 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects in newborns. Experts suggest all women of reproductive age take folic acid since many pregnancies are unintended.
The belief that exercise can slow cognitive decline in older people with dementia has gained popularity. Yet new research shows that’s not true. A study in the journal BMJ says moderate to high intensity exercise can improve physical fitness but experts say it does not improve cognitive impairment, daily activities, behavior, or health-related quality of life.
And finally, everyone knows soda isn’t good for you. But it may be even worse than you think. A study in the journal Obesity Reviews shows that “a calorie isn’t just a calorie” but that some are worse than others, and soda may be one of the worst. Even if soda doesn’t make you gain weight, it can markedly increase the risk of other health-related issues.
Patients with asthma who haven’t responded well to treatment may be greatly helped by injections of a drug for eczema. Two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show that patients with moderate to severe asthma reduced flare-ups by half or more after getting an injection of dupilumab,, a drug approved by the FDA for eczema in 2017. Patients taking the drug cut their emergency room visits about in half and those taking steroids for asthma were also able to reduce their dose.
Scientists have developed a prototype early warning system for the four most common types of cancer that makes a dark mole appear on the skin when it’s activated. Researchers call it a “biomedical tattoo” and say it would be inserted under the skin, monitoring genetic changes in the body. Mutations associated with lung, colon, breast or prostate cancer would make the implant turn a dark color, which would be visible through the skin. researchers say in the journal Science Translational Medicine that the test is at least 10 years away.
Surviving a heart attack may be as simple as exercise. A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology tracked nearly 15,000 people for 40 years. It found that more than 10 percent of them eventually had a heart attack but those who had pursued a light exercise regimen were 32 percent less likely to die from it compared to people who had been sedentary. Those exercising at least moderately were nearly 50 percent less likely to die.
And finally, researchers say walking and chewing gum at the same time amounts to good exercise. A study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science shows that chewing gum while you walk raises heart rate over walking alone, and makes people walk faster and farther. For men over 40, that adds up to a significant additional calorie burn while for women it didn’t make as much difference.
Growing up on a farm leads to a more stress-resistant immune system and a lower risk of mental illness. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lends support to the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that growing up in “too clean” an environment can produce asthma and other health problems. The study compared people raised in the city with no pets against those who were raised with farm animals, surrounded by bacteria-laden dust. Researchers found that the bodies of people raised on farms responded better to a stressful situation…although they felt they were more stressed than the city dwellers.
Macular degeneration is the largest cause of blindness in older people and vigorous exercise may make it more likely in men. A study in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology tracked more than 200,000 people over more than 10 years and found that men who exercised vigorously five or more days per week were 54 percent more likely to develop macular degeneration within 10 years. Researchers say they’re surprised by the results. Exercise did not produce the same problems among women.
And finally, if you want to enjoy your job more, get your co-workers to complain about work with you. A study in the journal Organization Studies finds that complaining with colleagues in a joking way about common problems at work boosts morale and builds relationships. However, researchers caution that the joking has to be about work structure not people.
This flu season is officially “moderately severe,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it’s likely to get worse. It’s a result of this year’s predominant flu strain—an H2N3 virus that’s much stronger than the virus that dominated last year. Vaccines are also less effective against H2N3 viruses. Some experts estimate that this year’s vaccine is about 30 percent effective at best. That’s still markedly better than the vaccine did in Australia during winter there six months ago when officials said it was only 10 percent effective.
If you want to cut down on sugar and carbs get more sleep. A study in the “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” shows that when people increase their sleep time they don’t have as much of a sweet tooth. A group of study subjects received advice on how to sleep better and increased their sleep time by as much as 90 minutes a night. They ended up making better nutritional choices–cutting down the sugar in their diets by as much as 10 grams a day and also ate fewer carbs.
And finally, to increase strength and power in your workout, swear out loud. A study in the “Journal of Psychology of Sports and Exercise” finds that cursing increases power while riding a stationary bike by nearly five percent and increases hand grip strength by more than eight percent. Researchers can only speculate why it occurs, but they know that swearing is handled by brain regions that don’t normally process language.
Synopsis: Studies are showing that people who train hard and long at running have death rates similar to couch potatoes, while those who exercise moderately or even lightly are likely to live much longer. Experts discuss how much exercise is enough and how to make the most of light exercise.
Host: Nancy Benson. Guests: Dr. Carol Ewing Garber, Professor of Movement Sciences, Teachers College, Columbia University; Dr. Vijay Vad, sports medicine specialist, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College and author, The New Rules of Running