Sunday, October 06, 2013

Walking an hour a day can cut risk of breast cancer: Brisk stroll can reduce chance in over-50s by 14%

All this research shows is that people in poor health don't walk much

Women who walk for an hour a day can cut their risk of breast cancer in later life, say researchers.  Taking a brisk stroll can dramatically reduce the chances of developing the disease in women over 50, the period at which they are most at risk.

Just 60 minutes of so-called moderate activity a day led to a 14 per cent lower risk compared to women who were less active, a study revealed.  And women who did more vigorous activities got almost double the protection, cutting their risk of breast cancer by a quarter.

Previous studies have shown the benefits of exercise, but scientists claim the latest research is the first to examine walking. It is thought to help cut down the body fat that can produce cancer-stimulating hormones such as oestrogen and insulin.

Scientists at the American Cancer Society studied 73,615 post-menopausal women, of whom 4,760 were diagnosed with breast cancer during a 17-year follow-up.

Among all women in the group, 47 per cent said walking was their only recreational activity.  Of that group, those who walked at least seven hours a week had a 14 per cent lower risk of getting breast cancer compared to those who walked three hours or fewer every week.

The study also found that women who took part in more vigorous exercise for an hour each day had a 25 per cent lower risk of developing the disease than the least active.

The results were unaffected by factors such as a woman’s weight or the use of hormone replacement therapy.

Dr Alpa Patel, senior epidemiologist at the Society, said: ‘Our results clearly support an association between physical activity and post-menopausal breast cancer, with more vigorous activity having a stronger effect.

‘Our findings are particularly relevant, as people struggle with conflicting information about how much activity they need to stay healthy.’

Dr Patel said promoting walking could be a good way of getting women to be more active. In the UK, around 50,000 women develop breast cancer each year – four out of five in the over-50s age group – and 400 men.

At the same time, three-quarters of Britons fail to do the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate activity such as gardening, dancing or brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise including playing a sport, running or aerobics.

Dr Hannah Bridges, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said just 30 minutes’ moderate activity a day – or 3.5 hours a week – can reduce  the risk of breast cancer by at least 20 per cent.

‘Any activity that raises your pulse reduces your risk – so regular brisk walks are an easy and free way to get active,’ she added.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said: ‘This study adds further evidence that our lifestyle choices can play a part in influencing the risk of breast cancer and even small changes incorporated into our normal day-to-day activity can make a difference.’

The study was published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.


The Irony of Michelle Obama's Water Campaign

Jonah Goldberg

Michelle Obama wants you to drink more water, at least one more glass a day. Frankly, I think it's great. Sure, the science behind some of her claims is somewhere between iffy and debatable. If you're not dehydrated, drinking more water won't give you more energy or cure your headaches, as her office vaguely claims. But it might take up belly space that otherwise would have gone to grape soda, Red Bull or some other sugary concoction.

Team Michelle won't admit this is the real agenda, insisting this is just a healthy, helpful reminder from the first lady. "Water is so basic," she explained from Watertown, Wis., "and because it is so plentiful, sometimes we just forget about it amid all the ads we watch on television and all the messages we receive every day about what to eat and drink. The truth is, water just gets drowned out."

Except that's not really true. According to Beverage Tracker (you don't subscribe?), in 1998, soda was our No. 1 drink of choice, with Americans consuming 54 gallons of the stuff every year. Today, it's down to 44 gallons, while water consumption has hit 58 gallons and rising.

Although on one level it may seem as if Obama is breaking the corporate grip on our drinking habits by celebrating the original no-frills beverage, it's more like she's pulling a Ferris Bueller: jumping in front of a parade in progress and acting as if it were for her all along. There's nothing more mainstream than going with the flow.

We tend to talk about culture as if it's something produced solely by obvious outlets like Hollywood or publishing. But the trend toward bottled water (which accounts for 21 of those 58 gallons a year Americans consume) is every bit as real a cultural phenomenon as Miley Cyrus' twerking -- even more so. Whenever we talk about ancient Greek or Egyptian culture, we spend an awful lot of time talking about what they drank and ate, we study their pots and pans, and we even write the occasional ode to their urns. There was no popular demand to see Cyrus behave like a bonobo in heat. There's a very real demand to drink pure water instead of other beverages.

We crossed a milestone in 2006 when, according to the U.S. Census, Americans started drinking more bottled water than beer. Susan McWilliams, a brilliant (liberal) political scientist, lamented this turning point in American culture. "There's a reason that beer commercials tend to include lots of people hanging out in a room together," she writes, "and bottled water commercials tend to include lone individuals climbing things and running around by themselves, usually on a beach at sunrise -- even though they are not being chased."

Bottled water is the beverage for an atomized generation that listens to music in a private headphone world. Beer is social. "Most people drink beer to lower social inhibitions," McWilliams notes, "to make it easier to have conversations with other people, to assuage loneliness, to grease the wheels for engaging in what my students euphemistically call 'relationships' -- in other words, to give a form and excuse for social life. You don't drink beer to improve your private, individual health."

This last point is one I can confirm after years of empirical testing.

Indeed, while every brand of bottled water has its own unique sales pitch, they all share one appeal: It's not common water.

Which raises one irony. Lots of socially engaged young people have started to rebel against bottled water on the grounds that all of that plastic is allegedly wasteful and deleterious to the environment. Some will even note that bottled water is an indictment of the public water system, the same way FedEx and UPS reflect poorly on the U.S. Postal Service. In other words, drinking Fiji water is a kind of lifestyle luxury most associated with elite culture -- like eating kale salads and having a home gym. It is of a piece with Michael Bloomberg's notorious efforts to make poor people live the way rich people think they should.

That doesn't make Obama's efforts misguided, but it's worth pointing out that even -- or perhaps especially -- liberals have a noblesse oblige all their own.


No comments: