Friday, October 26, 2007

Groan! So middle class people have better health

Tell us something else we didn't know

Men who eat whole-grain cereal every day [Who are most unlikely to be your average worker] are nearly 30 per cent less likely to suffer heart failure than those who do not, a new study has shown. The findings add to existing evidence that whole-grain foods are healthy. But not all cereals contain whole grain, and the new study shows that those cereals that lack it do not have the same health benefits.

Luc Djousse and Michael Graziano, of Harvard Medical School, studied a group of more than 21,000 doctors taking part in the Physicians' Health Study, a long-running trial. Their results, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, are in line with other trials.


Social class effect on health accelerates for British women

Life expectancy for professional women has shot up by 30 months to 85 years in only the last four years, while the gap between the top and bottom classes has widened. Figures from the Office for National Statistics published yesterday show that females in high-status, well-paid jobs such as medicine, law and finance are living longer than ever. Their counterparts in clerical and manual jobs, however, are struggling to keep pace as their lifestyles and life expectancy emulate their male colleagues.

Diet, drinking and smoking are taking their toll on women in the lower social classes but health experts suggest that females at the top are in better shape than ever, have quicker access to healthcare, are no longer dying from breast cancer and can afford better holidays. Some epidemiologists also suggest that women get a psychological boost from a high-status job where they are largely in control.

The figures show that the life expectancy at birth for women in the top social class, or those who married into it, jumped from 82.6 years in 2001 to 85.1 years in 2005, an increase of 2.5years. This rise is at a much faster rate than the rest of the past 30 years where life expectancy has gone up about two years in every ten. During the same period the life expectancy for women in the lowest social class - unskilled workers and labourers - rose from 77.9 to 78.1 years, an increase of only ten weeks.

In male mortality, the opposite appears to be happening. Life expectancy in men has been catching up with women over the past 30 years, but since 2001 the increase has dropped slightly and the gap between the social classes has slightly narrowed. Life expectancy for men in the professional classes rose from 79.5 years in 2001 to 80 years in 2005. At the same time the life span for unskilled workers rose from 71.5 to 72.7 years. A similar picture occurs in life expectancy from the age of 65. A women in Social Class 1 now aged 65 was expected to live to 85 in 2005, but is now expected to carry on to 87. However, the corresponding figures for women in Social Class 5 only rose from 81.9 to 82.7 years.

Eric Brunner, a reader in epidemiology at University College London, could not fully explain the acceleration in life expectancy for woman in the top social classes in the past four years. But he said that access to cash and high self-esteem has a big impact on health and longevity. "Money, wealth and resources, particularly psychological, mean that women feel more in control of their lives." Women are also categorised in Social Class 1 if they are married to men working in the professions, so many of them may be able to take on part-time jobs or not work at all.

Alcohol, smoking, poor diet and better health services in earlier life would all be factors in the widening gap between the social classes. "There are different smoking patterns in men and women over the last 40 years," said Dr Brunner. "The peak mortality rates for men with lung cancer was in the early 1970s while the peak rate for women was in the mid-1990s." In addition, there was a much greater class divide in obesity levels among women, with far more obese females in the lowest classes. There is no significant difference among men.

Professor Mel Bartley, a director of the Economic and Social Research Centre, said that women in the top social classes were more likely to get breast cancer but now less likely to die from it. Better screening techniques and drug treatments such as Tamoxifen had had a huge impact on mortality in recent years.

More here

Foolish use of "energy drinks" by students

College students relying on unregulated potions and elixirs to pull all-nighters and muscle their way through school have medical professionals fearful about just how badly they are treating their bodies in the pursuit of academic success. With midterm exams looming, students are fueling themselves on sugary coffee drinks and jazzy concoctions made of caffeine and herbs - all packaged as "energy drinks" with names such as Amp, Full Throttle and Rockstar. In some cases, students supplement the liquid buzz with drugs like Adderall and other amphetamines.

Neither regulated nor standardized by the Food and Drug Administration, energy drinks comprise a multibillion-dollar industry, with 65 percent of consumers under age 35, data show.

Doctors say these drinks do little for productivity and instead leave students jittery, anxious and sleep-deprived, not to mention hopped-up on a cocktail of ingredients scientists know little about.

Despite being marketed as "wellness boosters" and "herbal antioxidants," additives such as taurine, guarana and ginkgo-biloba are little understood and likely dangerous to student health, experts say. Taurine, the key ingredient in many energy drinks, including megaseller Red Bull, has been linked to the deaths of several athletes in Europe. A handful of countries, including France, have banned Red Bull from shelves. "These herbs have not been studied in a scientific manner, they are nutritional supplements that don't follow FDA guidance," said Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston University School of Medicine. "I think they are potentially dangerous because we don't know what they do."

Apovian, who works with students to maintain their health while under pressure to perform at school, suggests they "stay clear from all of this, stay clear from all these supplements that are not vitamins. Caffeine, we know what it does, it's a known entity. These other herbs, there's no science."

Susanna Barry, an educator at MIT's Medical Center for Health Promotion and Wellness, warns students, "If you feel panicky, anxious, gastric-upset and have sleep problems, you should know that your body is telling you very clearly that this doesn't work for you."

Dr. David S. Rosenthal, director of Harvard University Health Services, agrees, "There's no question that we're futzing around with various transmitters in the brain. It's something you don't want to mess with. These things can be very disruptive in everyday life."

Consuming energy drinks is counterproductive to academic success, he said. And compensating for lost sleep by drinking beverages high in sugar and caffeine takes a heavy hit on the body's wellness. "People take them for highs," he said. "But they cause lethargy. For many people, they have the opposite effects. We try to recommend strongly against them because they totally disrupt sleeping patterns."

Doctors Rosenthal, Apovian and others said they've met with students who exhibit such symptoms after consuming energy drinks and in extreme cases suffer much more serious side effects. "I've had students come to me with what mimics an almost full-blown panic attack due to the ingredients of energy drinks," said Barry at MIT. "It's very individual with what energy drinks do to our body."

More here


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].


No comments: