Monday, October 15, 2012

New Study: Walking Does NOT Protect Heart

"Walking is man's best medicine," said Hippocrates more than 2,400 years ago, and for many years, most doctors have advised their patients to walk regularly. Advocates of walking claim numerous health benefits including reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. But walking, in and of itself isn't enough, says a new Danish study.

Research published in the online journal BMJ Open found that although fast walking and jogging can slash the risk factors for heart disease and stroke by 50 percent, it's the intensity that counts. Simply walking an hour a day made no difference in combating the impact of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of factors, including midriff bulge, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, elevated glucose levels, and abnormal levels of fat in the blood.

Three factors — genes, diet, and lack of exercise — are thought to be keys in the development of metabolic syndrome, which encourages inflammation and blood thickening.

Scientists studied more than 10,000 Danes between the ages of 21 and 98. They were originally assessed in 1991-1994 and followed for up to 10 years. All of the participants answered questions about their level of physical activity and were then categorized according to intensity and duration.

Initially, about 1 in 5 (20.7 percent) women and 1 in 4 (27.3 percent) men had metabolic syndrome. Prevalence of the disease was strongly linked to the level of physical activity. Among the women, almost 1 in 3 of those who were sedentary had the syndrome, whereas only 1 in 10 women who were very physically active had it. Among men, just under 37 percent of sedentary participants had the syndrome compared to under 14 percent of men who were the most active.

Of the remaining participants who didn't have metabolic syndrome, just under two-thirds completed the final survey and assessment. At that point, 1 in 7 had developed the condition.

Again, incidence was higher among those with a sedentary lifestyle. Almost 1 in 5 (19.4 percent) of them had developed metabolic syndrome compared to about 1 in 9 (11.8 percent) of those who were very physically active.

It was not only the amount of exercise, but also the intensity which helped reduce the risk of developing the syndrome. After all factors were considered, fast walking speed halved the risk, while jogging cut the risk by 40 percent. Going for an hour's walk, however, made no difference.

“Our results confirm the role of physical activity in reducing [metabolic syndrome] risk and suggest that intensity rather than volume of physical activity is important,” the authors concluded.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly.


BBC falls for junk science about alcohol

BBC bosses have been forced into a humiliating U-turn after wrongly claiming that cracking down  on cheap alcohol would save the lives of tens of thousands of pensioners.

They have admitted that a Panorama investigation into alcohol abuse and the elderly used research supporting the introduction of minimum prices which was later discovered to be wrong.

The BBC1 programme, called Old, Drunk And Disorderly?, claimed the lives of 50,000 pensioners would be saved across England over ten years if a price limit were brought in.

Scotland is to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit for alcohol next year.

Joan Bakewell, a former pensioners’ tsar under the last Labour Government, who presented the programme, told viewers: ‘We reveal new research which predicts raising alcohol prices could save the lives of thousands of pensioners.’

She also wrote in a newspaper: ‘With cheap booze available round-the-clock in supermarkets, there  is evidence that if England follows Scotland’s lead, there could be 50,000 fewer alcohol-related deaths over the next decade.’

However, BBC bosses have admitted the figure was exaggerated, saying the real estimate is 11,500. It has ordered that the show be taken down from its online iPlayer service and re-edited.

The Corporation blamed Sheffield University for providing the wrong figures, pointing out that the university had ‘apologised unreservedly’.

In a statement, it said: ‘The School of Health and Related Research at Sheffield University emphasised the human error was wholly on their part and has apologised unreservedly to the BBC.’

In a statement, Sheffield University insisted  the mistake did not impact ‘in any way’ on other work by its Alcohol Research Group, which has previously claimed that a 50p-per-unit minimum price in England would reduce alcohol consumption by 6.7 per cent.


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