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all-cause mortality

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Should You Eat More Chili Peppers?

Regular use of spicy foods appears to be inversely associated with mortality.

A large 7 year observational study in China found all-cause mortality 10% lower among those who ate spicy food 1-2 days each week. Chili pepper was the most commonly used spice. The authors pointed out that the study design could not determine if it was spicy food or some other unknown factor that caused this benefit.

PositiveTip: Before you order up more chili peppers, you should wait for more convincing evidence.


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Early Life Exercise Brings Lifetime Benefits

Only 25% of U.S. high school students meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise.

Data from a large Chinese study of women 40-70 years old reveals that adolescent and adult exercise significantly reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. Women who didn't start exercising until adulthood saw a lower risk also, but not as low. Exercise is good at all ages, but there seems to be an additive benefit when started early in life.

PositiveTip: Girls who exercise put into their bank a lifetime benefit that lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature.

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Benefits of Five Daily Servings of Fruits and Vegetables

Grandmother was right: eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day!

Researchers examined data from 16 prospective studies and found the more fruits and vegetables people ate each day, the lower their risk for all-cause mortality. Each serving was 2.8 ounces (80 grams) of fruit or vegetable. It appeared that 5 servings per day optimized the benefits. Each fruit or vegetable serving lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 4%.

PositiveTip: Seems the oft-heralded 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables does reduce disease risk.

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Fat Teens Have Shorter Lives

Obese kids and adolescents appear to face an early death.

Adults who were overweight or obese during their adolescence were significantly more likely to die before reaching 50 years old than their normal-weight peers. While life-expectancy gains of the last 50 years have been very encouraging, this analysis of more than 2 million Israelis from ages 17 to 50 suggests this progress may be wiped out as a result of the obesity epidemic of today.

PositiveTip: Parents must do all they can to encourage their kids to maintain a healthy weight.

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Chalk-up More Benefits to Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle intervention can reduce the long-term risks of diabetes.

A 23 year follow-up of 6-years of lifestyle intervention among a group of patients who had impaired glucose tolerance in China found a 45% lower risk of diabetes and a 41% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. Patients were randomized to diet-only, exercise-only, both diet and exercise or standard medical care groups. There were some marked gender differences, and the authors suggested men may not have been as adherent.

PositiveTip: Choose an active lifestyle and a healthy diet for good long-term outcomes!

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Extremes In Weight Increase Risk of Death

Underweight or overweight – both are hazardous to your health.

A recent meta-analysis of 51 studies comparing BMI and all-cause mortality found that underweight people are 1.8 times more likely to die than people with a healthy BMI. The same risk of death is 1.2 for obese people and 1.3 for severely obese people. The findings controlled for smoking, alcohol use or lung disease and excluded patients with existing chronic or terminal illness.

PositiveTip: Maintain a healthy weight through healthy diet and regular exercise to avoid an early death.

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Inactivity as Deadly as Cigarettes

Inactivity may cause 5.3 million global deaths annually.

The burden of physical inactivity on global mortality is equal to that of smoking cigarattes. Havard researchers have calculated that 5.3 million global deaths can be attributed to inactivity, which is very similar to the 5 million attributed to cigarete smoking. Physical inactivity was defined as less than the World Health Organization's recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity--such as brisk walking.

PositiveTip: Get out today--and everyday--for at least 30 minutes of walking.

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The Value of Social Support

Loneliness may predict functional decline and death.

Those living by themelves or just feeling lonely have a 25% increased risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular death--especially in younger subjects (under 80). In another study, feelings of loneliness in those over 60 years of age were approximately 60% more likely to experience declines in their ability to carry out daily tasks. 

PositiveTip: Provide some social support to someone you know who is lonely. It may help them and you!

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Physical Ability Predicts Increased Mortality in Elders

Grip strength, walking speed and chair rises help determine mortality rates among the elderly.

Researchers from the University of London analyzed 28 studies on how at least one measure of physical capability (grip strength, walking speed, chair rises) connects with increased mortality in the elderly. They found that weaker grip strength, slower walking speed and longer chair rises were all associated with increased mortality. For example, those in the bottom 25% of grip strength had more than 1.5 times times the all-cause mortality compared to those in the top 25%.

PositiveTip: Physical activity today, including strength training, may pay large dividends for years into the future.