Friday, September 04, 2009

This should confound a lot of epidemiological suppositions

Regular Drinkers Exercise More

Drinkers aren't just bending their elbows: In fact, the more alcohol people drink, the more likely they might be to exercise, according to a new study.

Alcohol users not only exercised more than abstainers, but the differential actually increased with more drinking, said lead author Michael French. There is a strong association between all levels of drinking and both moderate and vigorous physical activity. However, these results do not suggest that people should use alcohol to boost their exercise programs, as the study was not designed to determine whether alcohol intake actually caused an increase in exercise.

French, a health economics professor at the University of Miami, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a yearly telephone survey of roughly 230,000 Americans.

They uncovered a strong statistical association between measures of both alcohol use and moderate to vigorous exercise, according to their findings, which appears in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Among women, those using alcohol now exercised 7.2 minutes more per week than those who abstained. Relative to abstainers, the more alcohol used, the longer the person exercised. Specifically, light, moderate, and heavy drinkers exercised 5.7, 10.1, and 19.9 minutes more per week. Overall, drinking was associated with a 10.1 percent increase in the probability of engaging in vigorous physical activity. The results for men were similar.

To Bethany Garrity, corporate fitness director at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport in Indianapolis, these results challenge the status quo assumption that healthy people make all the right choices.

We don't often associate an unhealthy behavior such as moderate to heavy drinking with healthy behaviors in the same individual, she said. Sometimes people tend to forget that we are not all healthy or all unhealthy in how we behave. This is a good reminder that people choose many kinds of health behaviors across the spectrum from healthiest to unhealthy.


Now it IS safe for your child to use a cellphone: After years of warnings, official British leaflet drops safety guidance

Repeated findings of no risk are not enough for the haters of anything popular. The occasional adverse result that would be expected by chance alone is seized upon and everything else is ignored

The draft of a new advisory leaflet for parents by the Department of Health removes safety advice to impose strict limits on youngsters' use of the handsets. It goes on to suggest that heating to the head caused by using a mobile is no more harmful than a hot bath.

A new advisory leaflet for parents by the Department of Health removes safety advice to limit the use of mobile phone for youngsters. However campaigners insist there is good evidence that using mobile phones increases the risk of brain tumours in both children and adults. One study published in March said children with mobiles are five times more likely than others to develop such a cancer in later life.

The current official advice from the Department of Health says that mobile phone use affects brain activity and admits to 'significant gaps' in scientific knowledge about the health effects. It highlights the fact that the head and nervous system are still developing into the teenage years with the result that children and young people 'might be more vulnerable' than adults. Consequently, it warns parents: 'The widespread use of mobile phones by children (under the age of 16) should be discouraged for non-essential calls.'

However, the draft of the new safety leaflet seen by the Daily Mail, removes all this safety advice and makes clear that no extra precautions need to be taken by children. It says: 'There is currently no scientific or biological evidence that radio waves cause cancer.'

The change in the advice is expected to lead to a marketing blitz aimed at children by mobile phone manufacturers.

Alasdair Philips, of the Powerwatch organisation opposed relaxing the safeguards, saying: 'A number of international studies have found a significant increase in brain tumours among people who have used a cellphone for more than ten years. 'It's incredible that the notion there is no good reason to restrict children's use of mobile phones could be the official Government line. This would be completely irresponsible and immoral. 'Parents are under pressure to buy mobiles for their children at younger and younger ages. By doing this they may well be giving them brain tumours in 30 years' time. 'The Government seems to be more interested in tax revenue from mobile phone calls - which is about £15billion per year now - than in the protection of public health. 'Children under 11 should not use a mobile, full stop. Older children should be encouraged to text only and hold their handset away from their body when they do so.'

In March, an international group of scientists reported that people who begin using mobile phones before the age of 20 are more than five times as likely to develop a malignant brain tumour. Co-author of the report, Dr David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, said: 'What stands out is the consistency of the association of exposure and disease. 'I see us facing a major problem in the future because of the fact that young children are on cell phones constantly, and we may be setting ourselves up for an epidemic of brain cancer, the same thing we did with cigarette smoking and lung cancer.'

A new report, 'Cellphones and Brain Tumours' was published on both sides of the Atlantic earlier this week by scientists and campaigners. Lead author Lloyd Morgan said: 'Exposure to cellphone radiation is the largest human health experiment ever undertaken, without informed consent, and has some four billion participants enrolled. 'Science has shown increased risk of brain tumours from use of cellphones, as well as increased risk of eye cancer, salivary gland tumours, testicular cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia. The public must be informed.'


Alternative drug to warfarin reduces risk of stroke

Warfarin is indeed dangerous if clinical management is not precise so any alternative is worth looking at. Someone I know who was on warfarin nearly bled to death because his therapeutic compliance was careless

A drug has been developed that scientists say reduces the risk of strokes in patients with irregular heartbeats compared with the popular drug warfarin.

For half a century, thousands of patients at risk of stroke have been given warfarin to prevent blood clotting. But treatment with the drug, also used as a form of rat poison, is risky and requires regular monitoring.

In a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual congress and also published by the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors found that the new drug, dabigatran (Pradaxa), was 34 per cent more effective at reducing the risk of stroke and blood clots in at-risk patients than well-controlled warfarin.

Death rates were also reduced by 15 per cent when patients were given the new drug, which at present is licensed only to prevent blood clots in hospital. However, at a cost of £4.20 a day, it is likely to be more expensive than the older treatment.

More than 18,000 patients from 44 countries took part in the three-year randomised evaluation of long-term anticoagulant therapy trial, the largest of its kind conducted. Participants had an average age of 71 and all suffered from atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that greatly increases the risk of stroke.

The British Heart Foundation said that the results for an alternative to warfarin were promising, but the drug would not be available to patients until next year at the earliest.

Keith Muir, medical advisor for the Stroke Association, said: “Warfarin is a highly effective treatment when indicated for stroke prevention, but it is underused, often because of safety concerns or the need for regular blood tests to monitor its effects. The trial indicates that dabigatran may offer a useful alternative to warfarin for stroke prevention in some circumstances.

“However, the trial only involved people who could equally well have taken warfarin, and anyone currently taking warfarin should continue it unless advised by their doctor."


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