A mixed picture presented by the U.S. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.
The National Cancer Institute reports cancer death rates continue to decrease as more people are surviving cancer--due largely to early detection and improved treatments. Yet the incidence of cancers related to obesity are on the rise. Obesity contributes in part to breast cancer, pancreas, endometrial, and kidney cancers. Tobacco-related cancers have low survival rates, underscoring the need to reduce tobacco use.
PositiveTip: Support your community and family in lifestyle activities that will reverse the epidemic of obesity and smoking.
The healthiest people are those who have normal weight all the time!
A 2013 meta-analysis suggested that overweight individuals had lower all-cause mortality than those at normal BMI. Now data from three large cohort studies with more than 225,000 men and women has demonstrated there is no protective effect of being overweight. These researchers used the maximum weight achieved over the past 16 years in addition to current weight, demonstrating that trends in weight are very important.
Rates of high blood pressure have increased globally over the past 25 years.
Researchers estimate that 874 million adults worldwide have a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher. Analyzing data from 844 population-based studies in 154 countries between 1990 and 2015, scientists attempted to assess the relationship of hypertension to various causes of death. They estimate that 14% of total deaths and 143 million life-years of disability are due to hypertension.
PositiveTip: When a wholesome lifestyle and ideal weight fail to control blood pressure--its time to see your physician and consider medications.
Four years of supplemental vitamin D and calcium made no difference in cancer risk.
Researchers divided 2300 postmenopausal, healthy women aged 65 or older, into two groups. One group received 2000 IU/day of vitamin D3 and 1500 mg/day of calcium; the other a placebo. After 4 years, the difference in any new cancer incidence between groups was insignificant--including breast cancer. While more research is needed, this study indicates supplementation later in life may not make significant differences.
PositiveTip: Adequate vitamin D and calcium are essential throughout the life span, but supplementation may not be necessary.
Eggs have long been vilified for their high cholesterol by many experts.
Although one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol (200 mg per egg yolk), eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk of heart disease such as monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, biotin, choline, vitamin A, protein, and lutein (an antioxidant). This does not give permission to eating a daily 3-egg omelet! Watch out for the trimmings, too! Watch this video from the Harvard School of Public Health.
PositiveTip: Eggs may not be the optimal food choice, but they are certainly not the worst--when consumed moderately, no more than one per day.
E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco products among U.S. youth.
Nearly 25% of all all U.S. middle and high school students said they recently had been exposed to the vapors from another person's electronic cigarette. The long-term impact on health of this kind of exposure is not yet known. However, it is known that e-cigarette aerosols may contain, nicotine, heavy metals, formaldehyde, ultrafine particles, and acetaldehyde--each one potentially dangerous to health.
PositiveTip: It is important for all to avoid exposure to the aerosols of e-cigarettes--and to support inclusion of these devices in indoor clean air regulations.
Plant-based protein supports excellent musculoskeletal function.
Traditional thinking held animal protein was necessary to maintain musculoskeletal health. Almost 3000 men and women with a mean age of 40 were studied to determine if this was correct. Researchers compared 6 dietary patterns, in one of which the protein came primarily from plant foods. All protein clusters provided recommended amounts of protein. It was found that the plant proteins were equal to those with the animal protein.
PositiveTip: As long as adequate amounts of protein are consumed, plant protein supports muscle health just fine.
The U.S. spends $2000 per person more than Switzerland but life expectancy is almost 4 years less.
Oxford University economists Ortiz-Ospina and Roser have put together a comprehensive document on healthcare financing (data geeks will love this). When they plot per-capita healthcare spending against life expectancy for the wealthiest countries, the U.S. comes up wanting (see the last graph in section II.) This does not fully address causality because there are many factors that influence this such as exercise, eating habits, culture and lifestyle, etc.
PositiveTip: Remember, medical care may be second-to-none, but your lifestyle choices have a profound influence on your longevity!
Older men should be cautious about testosterone therapy.
Is testosterone treatment of older men with low testosterone levels good for the heart? Apparently not, based on a randomized clinical trial of 170 men aged 65 or older. The experimental group received testosterone gel for a year to attain youthful testosterone levels and had a 20% increase in buildup of noncalcified plaque in their coronary arteries compared to those who received a placebo gel. More research is warranted.
PositiveTip: Plaque progression is not good. Older men, especially those with atherosclerosis should think twice about taking "T" therapy.
Use of alcohol and marijuana does impact academic performance.
The two most commonly used substances on college campuses are alcohol and marijuana. Researchers followed freshmen from two collages for two years, tracking academic performance and monthly use of alcohol and cannabis. The lowest users of both substances maintained the highest GPAs, and had the lowest depression scores when compared to those with moderate to high alcohol but no marijuana use or moderate to high users of both. Grades improved with lower substance abuse!
PositiveTip: Going for the gold academically? Stay away from alcohol and marijuana.