Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Health "Experts" Call Obesity A Threat to National Security

Now that we know it is a negligible health risk, it has become a security risk!!

Health care experts, including two former U.S. Surgeons General, said on Wednesday said that obesity has reached epidemic proportions and is a threat to security in the United States and abroad.

“Obesity is not just a health issue,” said Richard Carmona, who served as surgeon general in the George W. Bush administration. Carmona is now with the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance (STOP), a coalition of consumer, government, labor, business, and health insurers that advocate “innovative and practical strategies” to combat obesity. Obesity “affects our national and global security,” said Carmona. He said the U.S. has reached a “tipping point,” at which obesity “now impacts every aspect of our society, including the future of our health system.”

Obesity is crippling individuals and hurting American families, the workforce – even work productivity and the nation’s ability to be prepared for natural and manmade disasters: “When we look at one of the top reasons why young men and women fail to be retained on active duty in our uniformed services, obesity again rises to the forefront at a time when we need them more than ever.”

Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a disease-prevention advocacy group, echoed Carmona’s concern about obesity, the military and national security.

“I want to pick up on something Dr. Carmona said about the growing problem of obesity, and this being one of the major causes of medical discharge from the military and how this is a national security issue,” Levi said. “Back in the ‘60s, one of the things that motivated Lyndon Johnson to support the Medicaid program -- and in particular the enhanced children’s health benefit within Medicaid -- was his shock that so many young men were being rejected for service in the military because they were underweight.

“And here we are, 40 years later, in a situation where we have quite the opposite problem,” Levi said. “So it’s a certain irony, but I think it underscores that this has to be something integrated into our discussion of health reform.”

The recommendations made by the panel include using “evidence based” guidelines for “clinical intervention” for obese individuals; monitoring the health of people who are already overweight or at-risk of becoming obese; community programs to encourage healthy lifestyles and focus on health literacy; and scientific research.

Health literacy is defined by the U.S. Health and Human Services as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

David Satcher, appointed U.S. surgeon-general by President Bill Clinton, now heads the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. He warned about America’s obesity problem in a 2001 report entitled, “Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity.”

“When I served as Surgeon General, obesity was a problem of epidemic proportions,” Satcher said in a prepared statement on the release of the recommendations. “Today, we are in a state of emergency when it comes to obesity.”

Satcher and Carmona said legislation addressing the obesity problem is necessary, given the way Americans live. “The Stop Obesity Alliance is not just about stopping obesity. It’s about stopping the lifestyles that lead to overweight and obesity,” Satcher said. “It’s about investing in healthy lifestyles.”

“Many of us super-sized when we should have downsized our meals,” Carmona said. “We also drove cars to purchase processed food while we could have been getting exercise by growing our own fresh food.”

A news release outlining the recommendations said that 72 million American adults are now considered overweight or obese and that 9.1 percent of annual health care costs in the United States, or about $150 billion, are related to obesity.

In his speech on health care reform Wednesday night, President Barack Obama said nothing about Americans’ personal lifestyle choices contributing to the escalating cost of health care. But Republicans did:

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-S.C.), in the Republican response to the president’s speech Wednesday night, said insurers should be able to offer incentives for wellness care and prevention.

Boustany, a heart surgeon, said that topic is particularly important to him: “I operated on too many people who could have avoided surgery if they’d simply made healthier choices earlier in life,” Boustany said.

Christine Ferguson [above], director of STOP, advanced a similar argument at Wednesday’s panel discussion: “Clearly, America cannot successfully reform the health care system without addressing obesity,” Ferguson, said. “While the situation is grave, the goal is attainable.”


Why reminiscing about old times can boost your health

I suspect that this study really shows the bad effects of boredom

Uncle Albert loved to talk about the war with Del Boy and Rodney in Only Fools and Horses, and now it appears he was right to do so. Talking about the past can be good for your health, research suggests. Pensioners who got into groups and reminisced about their youth, including their wartime experiences, saw significant improvements in memory.

Like Uncle Albert Trotter, a character made famous in the popular BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses who was known for his war time reminiscences with Del Boy and Rodney, they found talking about the past comforting.

Researchers found just six half-hour chats boosted recall by an average 12 per cent - more than would be expected with any pills - the British Science Festival heard. Importantly, care home residents with dementia, including some in the late stages of the disease, also experienced big improvements, with recall around 8 per cent better.

It is thought that the simple act of swapping stories about past adventures and experiences makes use of parts of the brain that might otherwise lie dormant, reinvigorating the person's ability to remember.

However, reminiscing one-on-one with a carer was not beneficial, meaning that the sense of togetherness fostered by teamwork is important to the process, the Exeter University researchers said.

Alex Haslam, a professor of social psychology, said: 'I don't think any drug would deliver anything close to that. 'If you had a drug that could do that, you could make a lot of money. The point is that the drug is the group. 'I think our sense of worth comes from the approbation of our peers - the group gives us a reason to live and a reason to engage. 'If you are just neglected in a care home and you have no reason to engage with other people, you just atrophy.' The study adds to growing evidence about the importance of social contact to health - and the damage that can be done by loneliness.

A large-scale US study found that stroke patients who were socially isolated were nearly twice as likely to have another stroke within five years as those with good social lives. In fact, loneliness raised the odds of a second stroke more than accepted risk factors such as high blood pressure and not exercising. Other studies have found that being cut off from friends and family can raise blood pressure, stress and the risk of depression, while weakening the immune system and a person's resistance to disease.

In the latest study, 73 people living in care homes in Cornwall and Somerset, were split into three sets for six weeks. The first took part in group reminiscence sessions, in which they were encouraged to talk about their lives, starting with their school days. Researcher Dr Catherine Haslam said: 'People often say that when reminiscing you shouldn't bring up the bad stuff, don't bring up the war. But the people we spoke to were happy to bring up the war. 'It was a very interesting and challenging time for most people. While there may have been some losses, it was a very important part of their lives and who they were.

Those in the second set chatted one-one-one with a carer, and the third played group games of skittles. Group reminiscence boosted memory, while the fun of playing skittles led to improvements in overall feelings of wellbeing.

Dr Haslam said it was clear that group activities were good for health. Although some care homes already run group reminiscence sessions, more are needed. She said: 'It is something that we could be much more aware of. It is increasingly happening in care homes but the problem is resources, we don't have people to run the sessions. 'If I was going to say something to the Government, I would say, put some financial resources into this. 'This is much cheaper in the long-term in terms of maintaining health and wellbeing than putting efforts into new drugs. 'I'm not saying not to invest in drug research but there has got to be an equal balance.'


Link found between Trichomonas sexual infection and risk of aggressive prostate cancer

A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers has found a strong association between the common sexually transmitted infection, Trichomonas vaginalis, and risk of advanced and lethal prostate cancer in men. The study appears online on September 9, 2009, on the Journal of the National Cancer Institute website and will appear in a later print edition.

"Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in western countries, and the second leading cause of cancer-specific mortality. Identifying modifiable risk factors for the lethal form of prostate cancer offers the greatest opportunity to reduce suffering from this disease," said Jennifer Stark, an HSPH researcher and lead author of the study.

One potential risk factor is inflammation, which appears to play an important role in the development and progression of prostate cancer, but the source of inflammation of the prostate is not clear. Trichomonas vaginalis, which infects an estimated 174 million people globally each year and is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection, can infect the prostate and could be a source of inflammation. With respect to prostate cancer prevention, it is noteworthy that up to three-quarters of men infected with Trichomonas vaginalis may not realize they are infected, since they may not have any symptoms.

A previous study had found an association between risk of prostate cancer and Trichomonas vaginalis infection, but was not large enough to determine if there was a link between the infection and advanced and lethal disease.

In the present study, the researchers analyzed blood samples from 673 men with prostate cancer who were participants in the Physicians' Health Study and compared infection status based on antibody levels to 673 control subjects who were not diagnosed with prostate cancer. The blood samples were collected in 1982, on average a decade before cancer diagnosis.

The results showed that Trichomonas vaginalis infection was associated with a more than two-fold increase in the risk of prostate cancer that was advanced stage at diagnosis, and a nearly three-fold increase in prostate cancer that would result in death.

"The fact that we found a strong association between serologic evidence of infection with Trichomonas vaginalis, a potentially modifiable risk factor, and risk of advanced and lethal disease represents a step forward in prostate cancer, especially given that so few risk factors for aggressive prostate cancer have been identified," said Lorelei Mucci, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study.

The authors note that further research needs to be done to confirm the findings. If confirmed, the findings from the large-scale, prospective study would identify infections as one of the few known modifiable factors for aggressive prostate cancer. Moreover, since the infection is easily treated with an inexpensive antibiotic regimen, the results from the study suggest that prevention or early treatment of Trichomonas vaginalis infection could be a target for prostate cancer prevention.


1 comment:

John A said...


Not going to bother with much.

"“We also drove cars to purchase processed food while we could have been getting exercise by growing our own fresh food.” Presumably in window boxes, should get at least two salads a year that way. Or replacing lawns - except UK Councils and US Home Owners Associations would undoubtedly fine us. Replace grass? Turn loose a sheep or goat in your yard?

Oh, and that ref to 'Nam? I was drafted then - I never heard a word about underweight draftees.

New problem? Uh -
Ancient toys
"Made by Neolithic farmers thousands of years before the creation of the pyramids or Stonehenge, they depict tiny cattle, crude sheep and flabby people."