Wednesday, December 09, 2009

One third of heart disease deaths among Dutch adults blamed on being too fat

Predictable propaganda. I have noticed in my own field that Dutch scientists are particularly uncritical servants of an intellectual consensus. I guess that because Nederland is a small and insignificant country, they feel a particular need for approval. The study concerned here was not online at its original source at the time of writing but there is an extensive summary of it here. It is yet another piece of epidemiological speculation. Fat Dutchmen had more heart attacks. But why? Was it because they were fat or was it because they were lower class and had poorer health anyway? Who knows? Note also that a higher rate of death was reported only among the grossly fat -- the top 10% in terms of BMI. No mention of how people of middling weight fared! From other research they may in fact have been the healthiest -- so no surprise that their death-rate is not mentioned!

New research has found that around 67,000 deaths in Britain could have a direct link to being overweight. A third of heart disease deaths are caused simply by being overweight, researchers have found. The stark conclusion means about 67,000 deaths a year in Britain could have a direct link to our expanding waistlines. It also suggests obesity could be a bigger risk factor for cardiovascular disease than previously thought. With obesity levels set to double in the UK by 2015, charities warn the new figures show more action is needed to promote healthy eating and exercise.

In the ten-year study of 20,000 men and women aged 20 to 65, Dutch scientists found that being overweight accounted for half of fatal heart disease cases. When they applied this statistic to the general population - where average levels of obesity are lower than in the study - they concluded one in three fatalities were caused by being too fat. They also found that one in seven non-fatal heart disease cases could be attributed to people being overweight or obese.

Other recognised risk factors for heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels.

Chief investigator Dr Ineke Van Dis, from the Netherlands Heart Foundation, said: 'What this study shows is the substantial effect which being overweight and obese has on cardiovascular disease, whether fatal or non-fatal. 'In the near future, the impact of obesity on the burden of heart disease will be even greater. 'For consumer groups and our national heart foundations, these findings underline the need for policies and activities to prevent overweightness in the general population. 'And I think that general practitioners and cardiologists can do even more to tackle these problems, especially in obese patients under 65.'

His study, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation, measured the Body Mass Index and waistline girth of its volunteers. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. The researchers defined a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 as normal, 25 to 29.9 as overweight, and 30 or more as obese. In men, a waist circumference of 94 to 101.9cm was classed as overweight and more than 102cm as obese. For women, these figures were 80 to 87.9cm and more than 88cm respectively.

The study found patients with obese levels of BMI were four times more likely to die of heart than those of normal weight. A waistline that fell into the obese category increased the risk three-fold.

These figures were worse than earlier research which suggested that obesity doubled the chances of dying from heart disease. The difference may be because previous studies relied on inaccurate self-reported measurements of height, weight and girth, said the scientists.

Fotini Rozakeas, cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, said: 'This study shows that in people between the ages of 20 and 65, BMI and waist circumference (WC) measurements are powerful predictors of the risk of having cardiovascular disease. 'With the incidence of being overweight or obese in the UK predicted to almost double by 2015, measuring BMI and WC in general health checks is an inexpensive and simple measure to assess health risk. 'While people can follow healthy diets and take regular exercise, policymakers must support them by shaping the environment to make healthy choices easier. 'One opportunity is to make food labels clear and consistent to help shoppers consider healthier options.'

Heart and artery disease is still the UK's biggest killer, claiming about 200,000 lives a year - more than a third of all deaths. An estimated 2.6million people in the UK are living with coronary heart disease.


Loneliness 'fuels breast cancer', say scientists

This is based on genetically abnormal WHITE RATS, for God's sake! Generalize at your peril. The last paragraph below offers some sense, though

Being lonely could more than treble a woman's odds of developing breast cancer, research suggests. Isolation may also dramatically increase the number of tumours and their size. Although the findings were made in animal tests, the researchers believe they have important implications for human health.

With loneliness already linked to a host of other illnesses from dementia to high blood pressure, they say it is important to consider a person's mental health when thinking about their physical health.

The University of Chicago team looked at the effects of loneliness or 'social isolation' on female rats genetically predisposed to develop breast cancer. The breed is also one that is 'naturally gregarious', and, like humans, enjoys the company of others. The study found that animals living alone were 3.3 times more likely to develop types of breast cancer common in women than those in cages of five.

The tumours were much bigger and more numerous, so that overall, the solitary rats had 84 times more cancerous tissue. The cancer also spread to most parts of the breast, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports. Importantly, the spread of disease seemed to be fuelled by stress hormones, rather than the sex hormones that often drive breast cancer.

Researcher Professor Martha McClintock said: 'We need to use these findings to identify potential targets for interventions to reduce cancer and its psychological and social risk factors.'

Other researchers have warned loneliness is as bad for health as smoking or obesity. They say being cut off from friends and family can raise blood pressure, stress and risk of depression-while weakening the immune system and a person's risk of disease.

Some studies have found the stresses of city life and high-powered jobs can raise the risk of breast cancer. At the same time, women who have a positive outlook are said to have lower odds of the disease.

But other studies have failed to make a link, which left British experts urging caution over the latest finding. Meg McArthur, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, pointed out the results came from a study of just 40 or so rats. She added: 'Stress is a highly subjective state and therefore difficult to measure. 'It can also provoke unhealthy behaviour such as drinking alcohol or gaining weight which may independently increase your risk of breast cancer - and this makes the effects of stress on breast cancer risk difficult to untangle from other lifestyle risk factors for the disease.'


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