Saturday, January 01, 2011

Walking for 30 minutes a day lowers colon cancer risk (?)

I suspect that these findings simply prove that people in poor health don't do much exercise

Walking for just 30 minutes a day could lower the risk of dying from colon cancer, new research shows. Taking on an exercise programme could also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other cancers. And regular physical activity can even be beneficial after a cancer diagnosis has already been made.

In one of the first studies of its kind, a team examined data from a previous study which included more than 150,000 men and women. Researchers compared their levels of physical activity between 1982 and 1997.

They linked those activity levels both to the number of colon cancer diagnoses between 1998 and 2005 and to the number of colon cancer deaths that occurred between 1998 and 2006. It showed that those who exercised consistently for at least ten years had the lowest risk of colon cancer death.

But Dr Kathleen Wolin at Washington University School of Medicine, the first author of the study, said that while the greatest benefits seem to show in those who have exercised for the largest percentage of their lives, it wasn't necessary to run marathons or work out for hours a day.

She said: "You get enormous 'bang for the buck'. You go for a 30-minute walk every day and you're going to reduce your risk of a number of diseases. "And in addition, our research has also shown that you feel better, physically and mentally, so you're able to function better.

"People who were consistently active over the course of their adulthood had a lower risk of death from colon cancer than those who were sedentary.

"People often wonder around the start of a new year whether exercise really will help them stay healthy or whether it's already too late. "It's never too late to start exercising, but it's also never too early to start being active. That's the message we hope people will take away from this study."

Dr Wolin, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences, said the benefits of starting an exercise program include not just preventing colon cancer and death from the disease, but also reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and other cancers.


Herbal drug crackdown: Europe to ban hundreds of natural remedies in UK next year

About time. If orthodox drugs can be prescribed only after rigorous scrutiny of their safety and efficacy, why should herbal remedies escape the same scrutiny? "Natural" molecules can be highly toxic in some cases -- e.g. ricin

Patients are set to lose access to hundreds of herbal medicines next year, as European regulations come into force.

Sales of all herbal remedies, except for a small number of popular products for 'mild' illness such as echinacea for colds, will be banned to the public from May 1.

Under the new law traditional products must be licensed or prescribed by a registered herbal practitioner.

Almost 2,500 UK qualified herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners will lose the right to supply a wide range of herbal medicines, because they are not signed up to the statutory regulation scheme.

And practitioners have complained that the cost of obtaining licenses are beyond their means. Many traditional medicines are made up of a number of herbs and the Alliance for Natural Health estimates a license for each herb costs in the region of £100,000.

The ANH added that so far no Chinese or ayurvedic medicines had been licensed.

Jane Gray President National Institute of Medical Herbalists, said: 'The fact is that a very large number of our members will lose access to at least some of their medicines. 'I estimate that the impact on my own practice is that I will lose somewhere between 15-20 per cent of my business.

'A good proportion of our members who carry no dispensary at all will lose access to everything except what is available over-the-counter- which is an extremely limited range of herbal medicines and certainly not enough to address the needs of the full range of medical conditions that we see.'

The directive was introduced due to growing safety concerns about the side effects of many alternative medicines.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has issued over 10 safety alerts in the past two years. The banned herb Aristolochia caused kidney failure in more than 100 women after they were given it at a slimming clinic in Belgium. Meanwhile black cohosh used by many menopausal women has been linked to liver damage.

But herbal practitioners warn consumers may end up buying potentially dangerous supplies from the black market.

At least six million Britons have consulted a herbal practitioner in the past two years, according to research.

Leading medical herbalist Dr Ann Walker said: 'At present patients have access to top quality herbal products that are manufactured only for professional use, but we won't be allowed to supply them. 'Traditional remedies from China and India will only be available through the internet or backstreet suppliers, which could pose a serious health risk to the public.'


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