Thursday, December 20, 2007

December Health News

Update on Animal Cruelty
Mars Candy Animal Research - New Video

Walk to Reverse Metabolic Syndrome

Brisk walking is now more definitively seen as a means to successfully manage metabolic syndrome. A new study has provided evidence that it is not necessary to perform intense exercise to receive substantial health benefits and reverse metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions, consisting of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low levels of HDL (the good) cholesterol, high triglycerides, and abdominal obesity, or increased waist circumference.

The STRRIDE (National Institutes of Health-funded Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise) trial, published in the December 15,2007 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology has produced results indicating that moderately intense exercise can significantly reduce metabolic syndrome. The benefit was evident even when no dietary changes were made by the study participants.

In the past, walking was viewed as a means to modify the components that make up metabolic syndrome,that is to reduce hypertension, manage diabetes and cholesterol and help control weight. Now moderate exercise is viewed as a means to treat metabolic syndrome in total,leading to an increase in overall health.

Each STRRIDE study participant had at least three components of metabolic syndrome. The groups were assigned different levels of exercise. At the end of the study, it was determined that the group who performed high intensity exercise did not receive any greater reduction in metabolic syndrome than did the low exercise group.

The reason is quoted here:

..Rigorous exercise recruits more fast-twitch muscle fibers and utilizes glucose to a much greater extent than low-intensity exercise. Low-intensity exercise, on the other hand, tends to recruit slow-twitch fibers and uses free fatty acids as a substrate for energy. This.. is more beneficial for preventing or reversing the metabolic syndrome.

This is good news. We knew walking was beneficial for many health conditions. Now it's clear that walking has great overall health benefits.

Read more about Metabolic syndrome and why it's important to target this health issue:

Metabolic syndrome: new guidance for prevention and treatment
Metabolic Syndrome - What is It?

Honey - A Safe and Inexpensive Remedy for Your Child's Cold Symptoms

Honey has been widely used for the treatment of cough that accompanies upper respiratory infections. Honey has been recently studied to see if it might be beneficial to treat cough and provide rest in children who are less than twelve months of age to provide relief of cold symptoms. The use of honey to treat a cough has long been endorsed by the World Health Organization.

Children’s cough remedies, purchased over the counter have not been very successful, and their safety has recently been under fire.

Ian M. Paul, MD, MSc, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at the College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University has studied whether or not honey might help relieve cough and cold symptoms in children. Dr. Paul felt that since honey is a natural, inexpensive choice that it should be further investigated by obtaining feedback from parents who enrolled in the study.

During the study, children either received no treatment, buckwheat honey at bedtime, or honey flavored DM (dextromethorphan).

Parental satisfaction was highest in the group that was given a single dose of honey at bedtime. Satisfaction was low when no treatment was provided. Past studies showed that using DM is not effective, plus the cumulative effects of this medication are risky because it can cause hallucinations.

The conclusion:
Try honey to treat cough in children. It could decrease visits to the hospital when combined with traditional treatment, such as a humidifier, fever control and nasal irrigation with saline.
You should be aware, that during the study there were complaints of nervousness, hyperactivity and irritability in the group that was given honey, but it was mild. Since buckwheat honey was used, recommendations for the use of other types of honey cannot be substantiated.
Investigation will be ongoing. It is assumed that honey should provide cough relief for adults.

Obesity and Fitness

People who are obese, but physically fit have a lower chance of dying from overall risks, such as stroke, or heart attack, than those who are inactive and not overweight.

A study* targeting people who were over age sixty showed that people who are physically fit live longer, even after other factors are taken into account, such as waist circumference, smoking, and percentage of body fat. Of course, the risk is decreased even more for persons who have normal weights and higher levels of physical fitness.

It is suggested that walking for 30 minutes several days a week (or everyday) can cut the risk of deaths from all causes. Doctors should probably suggest fitness for their patients rather than weight loss. It's discouraging to exercise, try to eat well and not gain more weight, but to never drop the pounds. Now, evidence shows that activity is good for you regardless.

It's still important to try to address the obesity problem, but the truth is, that's been going on for about the last twenty years, yet obesity is currently an epidemic.
This is good news, and should make the prospect of a healthier lifestyle more attainable, even if you have felt discouraged about being overweight.

It has been only recently that waist circumference was believed to be one of the biggest predictors of overall mortality risk. This new study adds another dimension to how we approach self help for overall health and well being.

* Included were 2603 adults aged 60 years or older (mean age, 64.4 years; 19.8% women) enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study who completed a baseline health examination from 1979 to 2001.

Smoking Vaccine

A vaccine that produces antibodies to Nicotine has been tested and proven to been successful when compared to placebo. People in the group who were given a placebo experienced a 6% success rate in smoking cessation after 12 months. The group receiving the nicotine vaccination had 16% success after 12 months.

The vaccine, Varenicline (NicVax), was responsible for a threefold increase in success when compared to the group that merely received a placebo. The use of other smoking cessation aids, such as Nicotine patches and medication made it twice as likely that people will stop smoking without assistance.

The vaccine contains a chemical which is connected to a protein. The chemical is similar to nicotine, but it produces antibodies. This chemical prevents the way the brain responds to nicotine, rendering it less addictive and not enjoyable. Varenicline prevents nicotine from crossing the blood/brain barrier, so your brain never gets the signals telling you that nicotine is a pleasure. Varenicline vaccine provides a specific target for smoking cessation when compared to other medication.

NicVax is still in the production phases. The FDA has not approved it until further studies are done. The availability of even more methods to cure nicotine addiction should make it easier for everyone. There is no one thing that works for everybody, and the more methods that are available, the better. ◦