Archive for February, 2010

Coffee Drinking Reduces Risk Of Stroke

Friday, February 26th, 2010

According to a new study self-reported coffee consumption was inversely related to stroke risk.  The study followed 23,000 men and women.  They were followed for an average of 12 years found by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England.

Overall, people who reported any intake of coffee had a 27 percent lower risk of stroke than those who said they never drank java, the researchers reported. Drinking more coffee was not associated with a greater reduction in stroke risk. 

The reduced risk was irrespective of the type of coffee consumed, caffeinated, decaffeinated, instant or ground.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the educational organization, prior studies have shown that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes — a major risk factor for stroke — and also with a reduced risk of heart disease. 

Those studies generally have not been carried out with rigorous methods, researchers note.  Typically, they rely on self-reports, how much coffee you say you drink.  But what might be two cups for me might be an entirely different two cups for you. 

So, there are no official suggestions that people drink coffee to lower their risk of stroke. There has been no study designed to produce the kind of evidence needed to make recommendations, they noted.

Single Men Face 64% Greater Risk Of Stroke

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

According to a new Israeli study when age and known stroke risk factors such as obesity, smoking and diabetes were included in the analysis, single men had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than married men. 

The study, which tracked more than 10,000 civil servants and municipal workers from 1963 to 1997, found that 8.4 percent of the single men died of strokes, compared to 7.1 percent of the married men. 

According to the medical researchers, the 3.6 percent of men who reported dissatisfaction with marriage also had a 64 percent higher risk of a fatal stroke, compared to those who considered their marriages to be very successful. 

“Clearly stroke is one of the three major critical illness that threaten Americans,” notes Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  “It’s clear that a long, happy relationship is associated with a higher likelihood of taking the recommended measures against the known stroke risk factors.” 

Most of the men (86 percent) were immigrants, some of whom arrived before the state of Israel was created, one researcher noted.  A not inconsiderable proportion of these men had migrated from states of personal persecution and economic hardship and it is not known whether this had something to do with the finding.

Gas Cooking May Increase Cancer Risk

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Researchers in Norway have found that cooking with gas produces more potentially harmful fumes than electric cooking.    In a report published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, they also point out that professional chefs and cooks are more at risk than the average at-home cook. 

The risk to average at-home cookers is low, at least under Norwegian conditions, where most homes have a kitchen exhaust fan, reports the study’s author.   The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cooking fumes from frying at high temperatures as “probably carcinogenic.” The fumes have been found to contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic amines, higher and mutated aldehydes, and fine and ultrafine particles. 

But a remaining question has been what role, if any, does the energy source — gas or electric– or type of fat used in frying play in producing the fumes. 

The researchers created a kitchen typical of those in Western European restaurants, measuring 62 square feet and containing both a gas stove and an electric stove with a canopy hood.

They fried 17 pieces of beefsteak, each weighing about a pound, in both margarine and soya bean oil for 15 minutes. The only PAH found was napthalene (now banned, but once found in mothballs), most notably when frying with margarine on a gas stove, according to the report. 

The highest levels of all compounds, including ultrafine particles that more easily penetrate the lungs, were produced while frying with gas. 

In their homes, people can make sure that they have a powerful exhaust fan, preferably one that is vented directly to the outside and does not have a charcoal filter, one of the researchers emphasized. 

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

County-By-County Report Sizes Up Americans’ Health

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A new ranking of nearly every county in the nation shows significant disparities in the overall health of residents, depending on where they live. 

Researchers from University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation used data on premature deaths, self-reports about health and factors such as smoking rates, obesity, teen births, the percentage of children in poverty and number of liquor stores vs. grocery stores to rank more than 3,000 counties nationwide against others in their state. 

Researchers then chose each state’s healthiest county and compared it to each state’s unhealthiest county.  Here are some of the findings: 

Suburban and urban counties tend to be healthier than rural counties. About 48 percent of the healthiest counties were urban or suburban, while 84 percent of the unhealthiest counties were rural. 

The unhealthiest counties had 2.5 times the premature death rate, or people who die under age 75, than the healthiest counties. 

Residents of the unhealthiest counties were more than twice as likely to consider themselves in fair or poor health than those in the healthiest counties. 

Those in the least healthy counties were 60 percent more likely to be admitted to the hospital for a preventable conditions. Misuse of hospitals for non-emergency or preventable conditions is often a symptom of not having access to outpatient care and primary care doctors, either because of lack of insurance or lack of providers. 

Children are three times more likely to live in poverty in the least healthy counties (30 percent) compared to the healthiest counties (9 percent). 

Counties ranked the unhealthiest are less likely to have at least one grocery store where people can buy healthy foods such as fresh produce. About 33 percent of zip codes in the unhealthiest counties had a grocery store, while 47 percent of zip codes in the healthiest counties had a grocery store. 

In the study, researchers ranked counties on two overall measures: health outcomes, which included information on mortality, self-reported health and low birth weight babies; and about 25 other factors that can impact health but don’t directly measure it. Those factors included rates of motor vehicle accidents, uninsured adults and violent crime; the number of primary care doctors in an area and usage of hospice for the terminally ill; measures of air pollution, liquor store density and the percentage of high school and college graduates.

Click here to view the reporthttp://www.countyhealthrankings.org/ 

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which educates Americans about information pertaining to cancer and heart disease and other health matters.

Lower IQ Linked To Heart Disease Risk

Monday, February 15th, 2010

An estimated 80 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade group.  Nearly 800,000 Americans will suffer their first heart attack this year.

The findings do not prove that those with low IQs develop more heart disease.  The study’s authors point out that they only show a possible connection between intelligence level and heart problems. 

Still, one of the authors suggested the findings show the value of helping kids to be smarter. From a public health perspective, there is the possibility that IQ can be increased, with some mixed results from trials of early learning and school readiness programs. It may also be worthwhile for health promotion campaigns to be planned with consideration of individual cognition levels. 

The study, published in the February issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, examined more than 1,100 Scottish men and women aged around 55 years in 1987, who were followed-up for two decades. 

Of the factors studied, cigarette smoking boosted the risk of heart disease the most, followed by low IQ. The researchers suggested that low IQ could boost the risk of heart disease due to its links to lack of healthy activities and related obesity and high blood pressure. Low IQ could also be a sign of illness or insufficient nutrition during a person’s lifetime.

Does Eating Chocolate Lower Stroke Risk

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Researchers presenting at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto report another study found that eating chocolate may lower the risk of death after suffering a stroke.

The analysis involved reviewing three studies on chocolate and stroke.  More research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others reported one of the experts from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks research and data pertaining to stroke and other critical illnesses, chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which may have a protective effect against stroke.  More research is needed their director notes.

The first study found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate. The second study found that 1,169 people who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week were 46 percent less likely to die following a stroke than people who did not eat chocolate. 

The researchers found only one additional relevant study in their search of all the available research. That study found no link between eating chocolate and risk of stroke or death.

Migraines Linked To Heart Attack Risk

Friday, February 12th, 2010

According to a new study the incidence of heart attacks in people with migraine is almost double that of people who don’t suffer the headaches.  Researchers note that the exact reason why the two conditions are linked is still unclear.

The report in this week’s online edition of Neurology compared 6,102 people with migraine and 5,243 without the headaches.  The research found a 4.1 percent incidence of heart attacks in the migraine patients, compared with 1.9 percent in those without the debilitating headaches.

Previous studies have found an association between migraine and cardiovascular problems including heart problems and stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an educational organization that tracks heart disease and cancer information. One study, which looked at only women, found an increased incidence of stroke, especially for migraine with the visual disturbances called aura (women are up to four times more likely than men to have migraines). Another study, which looked only at men, found an increased risk of heart disease.

The new study did find a higher incidence of heart attack for migraine with aura — three times that of the migraine-free group. It also found that people with migraine were more likely to have the classic risk factors for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems: diabetes (12.6 percent versus 9.4 percent), high blood pressure (33.1 percent versus 27.5 percent) and high cholesterol (32.7 percent versus 25.6 percent). 

Cardiovascular risk reduction is important for everybody. If you have migraine, it might be more important for you than for the general population. They should be particularly vigilant about controlling body weight, keeping blood pressure low, modifying all the risk factors that are within their control. 

The majority of people who have migraines are women, often young women according to some medical experts. This is a marker that might help prevent cardiac disease. There have been several large population studies that show women with migraines have an increased risk of cardiovascular events. These are the women we should be intervening with. If they use oral contraceptives there should be a concern, because they can form blood clots, particularly if they smoke.

Drinking Soda Increases Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

New research finds that , new research suggests that adult soda drinkers may also engage in other lifestyle habits, such as smoking, which could contribute to the elevated risk. 

The study was a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and National University of Singapore.

The analysis involved more than 60,000 middle-aged or older Chinese Singaporeans. Researchers calculated how much juice and soda the participants drank on average and followed them for 14 years to see how many developed cancer of the pancreas. 

Those who drank two or more sodas a week were 87 percent more likely to develop this kind of tumor than individuals who didn’t consume any soda. 

Researchers found no link between juice consumption and cancer risk, perhaps because fruit juice has less effect than sugary sodas on glucose and insulin levels, the authors noted. 

Previous research in United States. and Europe has suggested an association between sweetened sodas and juices and pancreatic cancer. This is the first study to examine the association in an Asian population, although the authors feel the findings can be extrapolated to Western nations. 

Drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks has been linked to weight gain, obesity and diabetes. Both obesity and diabetes are associated with higher risk of pancreatic cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. 

The overall number of people developing the malignancy is over 42,000 new cases last year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The non-profit organization tracks data regarding cancer and heart diseases.

Heart Disease And New Study On Saturated Fat

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Research has shown that saturated fat can raise blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and elevated LDL is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Because of this, experts generally advise people to limit their intake of fatty meat, butter and full-fat dairy. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults get no more than 7 percent of their daily calories from the fat; for someone who eats 2,000 calories a day, that translates into fewer than 16 grams of saturated fat per day. 

But in the new analysis, which combined the results of 21 previous studies, researchers found no clear evidence that higher saturated fat intakes led to higher risks of heart disease or stroke. 

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may sound like good news for steak lovers, but a past AHA president cautioned against “over interpreting” the results. 

They note that no one is saying that some saturated fat is going to harm you…people should enjoy their food.  They point out, many studies have shown that dietary saturated fat can raise people’s cholesterol, and the new analysis is not going to change recommendations to keep saturated fat intake in check. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the non-profit educational organization that tracks data related to heart disease and cancers, a number of studies have linked the so-called Western diet to greater heart disease risks; that diet pattern is defined as one high in red and processed meats and saturated fats — but also high in sweets and other refined carbohydrates like white bread. 

On the other hand, diets described as Mediterranean or “prudent” — generally high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, unsaturated fats from vegetable oil — may help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.  It’s that type of eating pattern that people should strive for. 

For the current study, researchers at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Center in California, pooled data from 21 studies that included a total of nearly 348,000 adults.  

Participants, who were generally healthy to start, were surveyed about their diet habits and then followed for anywhere from five to 23 years. Over that time, 11,000 developed heart disease or suffered a stroke.

Hormone Replacement May Lower Cancer Risk

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Researchers followed nearly 57,000 California teachers to examine hormone replacement therapy (HRT) impact.  They found that women who were using HRT at the outset were 36 percent less likely to develop colon cancer over the next decade than those who had never used HRT. 

Of the 34,433 HRT users, 193 were diagnosed with colon cancer during the study period; that compared with 151 cases among the 13,778 women who had never used hormone replacement. 

HRT — with either estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progestin — was linked to a lower colon cancer risk even when the researchers accounted for the women’s age, weight, exercise levels and race.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, a non-profit educational organization that tracks data related to cancer and heart diseases, older age and African-American race are risk factors for colon cancer.  There is evidence linking obesity and a sedentary lifestyle to the disease as well. 

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, support the theory that estrogen offers some protection against colon cancer.  Some past studies have linked not only HRT, but also use of birth control pills, to a lower colon cancer risk. And lab experiments have shown that estrogen may inhibit tumor development in the colon by affecting cell growth, or by lowering levels of a cancer-linked hormone called IGF-1. 

However, no one is recommending that women take HRT to ward off colon cancer. Millions of women stopped using the hormones after a large U.S. government study in 2002 found that postmenopausal women given HRT had higher risks of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and blood clots than women given an inactive placebo. 

As a result, medical experts now advise that while HRT is effective at relieving menopausal symptoms — like hot flashes and vaginal dryness — women should take it at the lowest dose and for the shortest time possible. 

The findings are based on 56,864 menopausal women who took part in the California Teachers Study, a health study begun in 1995. Most of the women were past menopause at the outset, and 61 percent were currently using HRT.  Over the next decade, 442 women were diagnosed with colon cancer. 

While women who were current HRT users at the start of the study showed a lower risk of the disease, the same was not true of those who were former users.  The researchers note that the implications of that finding, if any, are not yet clear. 

Family history of colon cancer is an established risk factor for the disease, but only one study, according to Henderson’s team, has looked at whether family history affects the link between HRT and colon cancer risk — and it found no evidence that it did.

Poor Mental Functioning Could Predict Stroke

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Researchers found that older men who were not diagnosed as having dementia but who did poorly on a test of mental function had a greatly increased risk for stroke. 

 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance about 600,000 Americans experience their first stroke each each.  “Some one in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds,” explains Jesse Slome, the non-profit educational organization’s director.

 

 Medical researchers at Uppsala University published theuir findings yesterday Neurology.  There are indications that the test results could show the chances of survival for someone who has a stroke, they noted.

 

The research involved nearly 1,000  Swedish men, who averaged 70 years old at the start of the study. None had a history of stroke. They were given three widely used tests of mental function.  Over the next 13 years, 166 of the men had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), a brief interruption of blood flow to the brain.

 

The 25 percent of men who performed worst on the B test were three times more likely to have a stroke or a TIA than the 25 percent of the men with the highest scores, the study found.  The results support the idea that cognitive decline, regardless of whether a person has dementia, may predict risk of stroke, researchers explained. 

The Swedish study adds to the list of unconventional factors linked to the risk for stroke.  One recent study of more than 13,000 Americans found an association with obesity, measured by either body-mass index or waist circumference. In some cases, the most obese individuals were more than three times as likely to have a stroke as the leanest.

Intensive Rectal Cancer Treatment Shows Promise

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The study included individuals with poor-risk rectal cancer.  That means they have a high likelihood of disease recurrence and poor survival odds despite receiving standard chemotherapy and optimum surgery.

Patients underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy treatment with capecitabine and oxaliplatin, followed by chemoradiotherapy with capecitabine and surgery, followed by another 12 weeks of capecitabine treatment. 

After 36 months, 68 percent of the patients had no cancer progression, and the overall survival rate was 83 percent. After five years, the overall survival rate was 75 percent. 

Tumor downstaging was shown in most patients receiving neoadjuvant treatment with a low incidence of involved [circumferential resection margins (CRMs)] in the surgical specimens.  Before treatment, 90 percent of eligible patients had tumors with CRMs at risk or involved. 

The study was published online Jan. 25 in The Lancet Oncology.

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks information regarding the three primary critical illnesses which impact Americans, cancer, heart attack and stroke.