Archive for January, 2012

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NOT surprisingly the answer is yes.

When people in the U.S. are asked to provide their weight for research surveys, they underestimate their weight and overestimate their height, despite numerous public reports about increasing rates of obesity. Whites are more likely to do so than Blacks or Hispanics, a new study finds.

Wen and her colleague, Lori Kowaleski-Jones, Ph.D., found that in all ethnic groups, both men and women overestimate their height. Women also under-report their BMI more than men do, and White women are more likely to do so compared to Black and Hispanic women. The authors speculated this was because White women have a stronger social “desire for a lean body” and were more acutely aware of their weight problems. Those who were overweight, in the oldest age group and who had a college education were also more likely to under-report their BMI.

The researchers said, however, the under-reporting bias is “generally small” with the range of difference between measured and self-reported BMI falling within the 1 BMI unit range.

Wen said their results highlight the care that should be taken when making comparisons of BMI across different U.S. socio-demographic groups.

I think it is only natural to flatter yourself in these surveys or underestimate your own pathology.

Unfortuantely, using the My Fitness Pal application with my weight-loss peers, I am brutally honest. And, I have a way to go!

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Commercial for the California Dept of Health Services

Unbelievable, isn’t it?

A new analysis has found that a substantial number of lung and colorectal cancer patients continue to smoke after being diagnosed. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study provides valuable information on which cancer patients might need help to quit smoking.

When a patient receives a cancer diagnosis, the main focus is to treat the disease. But stopping smoking after a cancer diagnosis is also important because continuing to smoke can negatively affect patients’ responses to treatments, their subsequent cancer risk, and, potentially, their survival. Elyse R. Park, PhD, MPH, of the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, led a team that looked to see how many patients quit smoking around the time of a cancer diagnosis, and which smokers were most likely to quit.

The investigators determined smoking rates around the time of diagnosis and five months after diagnosis in 5,338 lung and colorectal cancer patients. At diagnosis, 39 percent of lung cancer patients and 14 percent of colorectal cancer patients were smoking; five months later, 14 percent of lung cancer patients and 9 percent of colorectal cancer patients were still smoking. These results indicate that a substantial minority of cancer patients continue to smoke after being diagnosed. Also, although lung cancer patients have higher rates of smoking at diagnosis and following diagnosis, colorectal cancer patients are less likely to quit smoking following diagnosis.

Obviously, some patients, even after having cancer, have a hard time breaking the addictive cycle of nicotine.

Physicians and dentists must develop strategies to help these patients quit and quit for good.

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Coronary artery plaque in the heart

Unbelievable, I mean really?

If you were a smoker, would seeing an image of plaque building up in your neck artery help you quit?

That was the central question posed by a study of 536 smokers recently published online by the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers wanted to know whether using ultrasound images of the carotid artery could serve as a “teachable moment” and improve quit rates when added to an intensive smoking-cessation program.

Plaques in the carotid are a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk, explains Nicolas Rodondi, a professor at the University Hospital Inselspital, in Bern, Switzerland, and an author of the study. But screening for the plaques has been controversial, because it’s not clear whether it actually improves health.

The smokers — who were between 40 and 70 years of age and smoked an average of a pack a day — were randomized into two groups. One received carotid plaque screening, and the other didn’t. Both then participated in a one-year smoking cessation program that included six 20-minute individual counseling sessions and nicotine replacement therapy.

At the end of the year, the researchers got a surprise: the quit rates were high, but there was no significant difference between the groups (24.9% in the screening group and 22.1% in the non-screening group). Nor was there a difference in quit rates between the screened folks who had and did not have plaques.

Maybe this communication was not sufficient of a “teachable” moment. Or, maybe these folks were motivated to quit smoking, in any case.

Do smokers really need to be scared? Or, do physicians and dentists need better communication tools?

I would say the latter.

Watch the video below and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

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Here I am finishing less year’s (2011) rain drenched Los Angeles Marathon

This is very good to know as I train for another Los Angeles Marathon.

Romauld Lepers and Thomas Cattagni, researchers from Inserm Unit 1093 “Cognition, Action and Sensorimotor Plasticity” at the Université de Bourgogone, have analysed changes in participation and performance of runners aged 20 to 80 in the New York marathon over the last 30 years. The results are largely unexpected: the best male marathon runners over 65 and the best female marathon runners over 45 have consistently improved their performance over the last 30 years. At the same time, the researchers also observed a strong increase in athletes over 40 participating in the New York marathon: from 36% of the total masculine runners between 1980-1989, to 53% between 2000-2009; and from 24 to 40% during the same periods for female runners.

I know the past two years, I have really stepped up my weight loss, and running training. I am running faster and farther.

I have never been a fast runner, but have managed to finish eight marathons, walking and running. These have been all at the Los Angeles Marathon – different courses though. Also, I have run a number of half marathons and other races (mainly for charity).

The researchers have thus concluded that, over the last two decades, the performances of the best male marathon runners over 65 and the best female marathon runners over 45 have particularly improved, whereas their younger counterparts have remained stable.

“The improved performances can be explained by the increased number of participants in these age categories, as well as the increased interest this age population has in terms of the benefits of physical activity on health and well being” says Romuald Lepers, whose research into motor function plasticity during aging is part of the overall research of Inserm Unit 1093 “Cognition, Action and Sensorimotor Plasticity,” directed by Thierry Pozzo.

In recent years, the gap in performance between men and women has stabilized, in all age categories, suggesting that the decline in physiological functions with age is similar for both sexes. The mechanisms via which physical activity acts advantageously in terms of slowing down aging-related processes remain to be explored. For the researchers, this initial data on athletes over 40, combined with new physiology and sociology data, will lead to improved understanding of the role physical exercise has in “aging well.”

This year I am hoping to improve my time by at least thirty minutes and more so in the years to come.

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Here I am working on a patient and challenging my brain!

Apparently so, according to a new study.

People who challenge their brains throughout their lifetimes — through reading, writing and playing games — are less likely to develop protein deposits in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s, researchers said on Monday.

Prior studies have suggested that people who are well educated and stay mentally active build up brain reserves that allow them to stay sharp even if deposits of the destructive protein called beta amyloid form in the brain.

But the latest study, based on brain-imaging research, suggests that people who stay mentally engaged beginning in childhood and remain so throughout their lives actually develop fewer amyloid plaques.

“We’re not talking about the brain’s response to amyloid. We’re talking about the actual accumulation of amyloid,” Dr. William Jagust of the University of California, Berkeley, whose study appears in the Archives of Neurology, said in an interview. “It’s a brand new finding.”

And, throw in some exercise.

Of course, there will be more research.

Currently, there are no drugs available to successfully prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

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