Friday, December 24, 2010

What About Smoking Rate in United States?

Cigarette smoking is known to be a risk factor of causing breathing problems and lung cancer, and it is a major cause of heart disease for men and women, too. About 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the United States are directly linked to smoking. That is why cigarette smoking is named as the leading preventable cause of disease of deaths in the United States.

While authorities have been trying many means to curb the smoking rate, there are still more than 46 million American adults still smoke cigarettes, and it is estimated that smoking still kills 1,000 Americans a day.

According to a report released on September 7, 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking rate remains unchanged in 2009 with about 1 in 5 adults still smoke regularly. Meanwhile, teen smoking has also not been improving, and remains at nearly 20 percent.

Since 2004, smoking rate has been flat after falling dramatically since the 1960s through heavy tobacco taxes. Perhaps the health authorities have lost momentum because of reductions of anti-tobacco campaigns, or a lack of funding to support programs that help smokers quit. Meanwhile, cigarette producers have come up with brilliant marketing strategies to increase their sales.

It is the second report that indicated nearly all children (98 percent) who live with a smoker have measurable tobacco toxins in their body worried health experts.

Environmental tobacco smoke (passive smoke or more commonly known as secondhand smoke) can cause chronic respiratory conditions, cancer and heart disease. It is estimated that each year, around 35,000 nonsmokers who exposed to secondhand smoke die from heart disease.

In surveying a total of more than 30,000 nonsmokers between 1999 and 2008, it was found that the detectable levels of cotinine had dropped over the 10 years, from about 52 percent to 40 percent. The reduction could be due to more smoking bans in workplaces, restaurants and other public places.

Nevertheless, the findings also highlighted some bad news. For example, most of the decline in smoking rate came about 10 years ago, and more than half of the children aged between 3 and 11 living in United States are exposed to secondhand smoke with no safe level of exposure. And more importantly, there has been virtually no improvement for children who live with a smoker.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why You Should Eat Less Meat?

Most people, especially ladies, do not like to be overweight or obese. The reason is simple.

The extra pound gained would in some way make the person’s appearance look not so nice, at least this is the thought that most people have. But more importantly, the extra pounds gained could possibly lead this person to many medical disorders including hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, stroke, heart disease and even certain type of cancer.

There could be many reasons why people gain weight, but improper diet and sedentary lifestyle are considered to be the 2 most important one that have been confirmed by many studies. Results of a recent European study can be another confirmation that stressed the importance of proper diet.

Researchers from Imperial College London reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that meat lovers gained more weight over 5 years than those who ate less meat but with the same amount of calories.

More than 100,000 men and 270,000 women from 10 European countries were involved in a study that examined cancer and nutrition and other lifestyle factors. Over a period of 5 years, both men and women on average gained about a pound a year, with women gained a little less.

The interesting part is that the more meat a person ate, the more weight this person gained. For every additional 250 grams of meat (equivalent to a half-pound, 450-calorie steak) a person ate daily, this person would gain 4.4 pounds over a period of 5 years. Among different types of meats, researchers found the strongest association with weight gain was poultry, followed by processed meats and red meat.

Therefore, researchers urged people to eat less meat so as to improve weight management. By cutting the consumption of meat by 250 grams a day could reduce a person’s weight by 4 pounds. While this figure is not very large for a particular individual, it could have a profound effect on the population as a whole.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why Long-Term Weight Loss Is Not Desirable?

The obesity epidemic has been a pressing issue for the world as overweight or obesity would bring about many medical disorders including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. The consequence is huge amount of health expenses would be required to cover these diseases.

Naturally, no one would like being overweight or obese and if someone makes a statement like “weight loss is always beneficial, and weight gain is always harmful”, I am quite certain that not many people would raise their hands to object.

However, a paper published in the International Journal of Obesity on September 7, 2010 by researchers from Kyungpook National University in Daegu in South Korea revealed that long-term weight loss might release into the blood industrial pollutants, which is linked to diseases such as Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis. These hazardous compounds are normally stored in the fatty tissues, but when fat breaks down during weight loss, they get into the blood stream and can reach vital organs.

After studying concentrations of 7 such compounds in blood of 1,099 participants in the United States, they found that those who lost weight over 10 years had the highest concentrations of the compounds, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), compared to those who gained or maintained a steady weight.

The findings totally opposed to the overwhelming data showing attaining a healthy weight is good for preventing many diseases. When a study that goes against the common sense, it would naturally arouse doubts or even opposition from other health professionals.

Some of them feared that overweight or obese people might use such findings as an excuse to stop trying to reduce their weights through healthy diet and exercises, while others suggested people should figure out if the study seems sound and applies to the average population.

In fact, even the researchers themselves acknowledged that further studies are required to establish the link between long-term weight loss and health problems.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Is Vegetable Really Good for Diabetics?

According to World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes affects more than 285 millions people worldwide, of which 4 million people of them will die every year by 2010. The number could rise up to 438 millions by 2030 with the increasing obesity rate.

Type 2 diabetes, being the commonest form of diabetes, has swiftly spread from wealthy to the fast-developing countries because of the fatty, sugary diets and sedentary lifestyles.

While nutrition and exercise are important in the prevention of such disease, the dispute on ‘which foods work best and why’ continues. This is because only few good quality studies were carried out to explore such issue.

Recently, researchers from the University of Leicester, central England found that eating more spinach and other green leafy vegetables could actually reduce the risk of Type-2 diabetes. Their findings were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on August 20, 2010.

6 studies involving 220,000 people were reviewed to explore the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and Type-2 diabetes. The results showed that eating one and a half extra servings (106 gm) of green leafy vegetables reduce the risk of diabetes by 14 percent, while eating more fruit and vegetables combined had negligible impact.

Researchers could not explain why leafy vegetables have such protective effect, though they suspected it is probably because of the high antioxidants such as Vitamin C and magnesium found in green leafy vegetables.

As such, they suggested more investigation should be carried out to confirm their findings. Other health experts also felt that it was too early to isolate green leafy vegetables and regard them alone as a way to reduce the risk of getting Type-2 diabetes.

Meanwhile, the researchers as well as other experts in the field urged people to continue consuming 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which would benefit people in the prevention heart disease, stroke, some cancers and obesity as well as Type-2 diabetes.

The National Diet Nutrition Survey showed that, although fruit and vegetable intake has increased over the past decade, only a third of men and women eat the recommended five-a-day in 2008/09.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Would Vitamin Help Diabetics?

For people who are unable to get adequate amount of vitamins and minerals from their diet, taking vitamin supplements could be a feasible alternative to help them meet their nutrition requirements. The elderly, strict vegetarians, people on low-calorie diets and those that are malnourished are some good examples of this type of people.

How about diabetics? Would vitamin help control their condition? Most health organizations associated with diabetes do not advocate using vitamins. In fact, they usually warn against using large doses of vitamins or supplements, which could possibly cause adverse side effects.

In April 28, 2010 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from the University of Western Ontario and the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario reported that patients with diabetic nephropathy would suffer rapid deterioration of the kidneys if treated with high doses of Vitamin B. Moreover, these patients are likely to face a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than patients who took a placebo.

Diabetic nephropathy is a progressive kidney disease because of longstanding diabetes mellitus, and it is a prime indication for dialysis in many Western countries. Even with the many treatments available right now, about 40 percent of the 21 million Americans who have diabetes still develop diabetic nephropathy.

Prior observational studies have shown that there is an association between high concentrations of plasma total homocysteine and the risk of developing diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy, and vascular diseases, including myocardial infarction and stroke. B-Vitamin therapy using folic acid, Vitamin-B6 and Vitamin-B12 is known to be capable of lowering the plasma concentration of homocysteine.

With an aim to developing a new approach to treatment, the researchers conducted a study to see if B-Vitamin therapy would actually slow progression of diabetic nephropathy and prevent vascular events in 238 patients with Type-1 or Type-2 diabetes. Meanwhile, the placebo-controlled trial was carried out at 5 university medical centers in Canada between May 2001 and July 2007.

Patients were prescribed with single tablet of B-Vitamins with folic acid (2.5 mg/d), Vitamin-B6 (25 mg/d), and Vitamin-B12 (1 mg/d), or matching placebo. After an average period of 31.9 months, patients with Vitamin-B were found to have a faster rate of reduction of kidney filtering and so the kidney function, as compared with those on a placebo course. For patients with the diabetic nephropathy, the risk of heart attack and stroke were also higher than those who took placebo.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skinny-Thigh Could Cause Heart Disease

Overweight or obesity has been shown by earlier studies to be one of the many risk factors, like diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and high cholesterol, of heart disease.

A study appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on September 4, 2009 reported that women and men with thighs smaller than 60 cm (or about 23.6 inches) in circumference would face a much higher risk of premature death and heart disease. It is believed that this is the very first to examine the implications of thigh size on heart disease.

Danish researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital looked at data obtained from 1,436 men and 1,380 women. The body measurements of these participants were taken in Demark in the late 1980s. Over the next 12 years, more than 400 participants died and another 540 suffered either cardiovascular or heart disease, and the ratio of men to women was roughly 2 to 1.

The findings showed that survivors without any heart disease had significantly thicker thighs, after taking into account of other risk factors of heart disease. People with thigh size smaller than 60 cm had a much higher risk of premature death.

Nevertheless, 60 cm was the threshold. This means that larger (than 60 cm) thigh size did not seem to offer any additional benefit for either sex. In fact, those with the thinnest thighs (less than 18 inches around) were more than 3 times more likely to die compared with those with the 60-cm thighs, and more than twice as likely to have heart disease.

It is possible that, according to researchers, a lack of lower body muscle mass could affect a proper glucose and lipid metabolism, which in turn put the body at risk of developing disease. As such, they proposed further study to find out the reasons.

Meanwhile, suggestion by the researchers to use thigh size for assessing heart disease risks together with other measures like body mass index (BMI) and waist and hip circumference met objection from some health experts. The opposers doubted that the thigh size could be clinically useful.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

What Else Can Cause Obesity?

While many studies have blamed the increasingly sedentary lifestyle and the availability of low-cost high-calorie foods to be the culprit for obesity epidemic in the developed countries, there might be other reasons behind this.

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine and the University of Colorado at Boulder found that the bugs that help digest food could also cause the body to gain weight if they are not properly regulated. If wrong kinds of bacteria were dominant, they could cause a low-level inflammation leading to a pre-diabetic condition and an elevated appetite, as explained in a paper published on March 4, 2010 in the Journal “Science”.

In the study, researchers examined mice that were genetically engineered to be deficient in a key immune system protein, namely TLR5, which helps cells sense the presence of bacteria. Such protein plays an important role in the intestinal community, meaning it knows not to apply too much force and does not harm the good bacteria.

In the absence of TLR5, the immune system can still regulate bacteria but it just could not do it properly. When the bacterial composition changes, a low level inflammation sets in and insulin receptors are desensitized.

To justify the theory, a series of experiments were preformed on mice. The results showed that if the TLR5-deficient mice were given unrestricted diets, they ate 10 percent more and gained 20 percent more weight than the normal mice. Even if their food was limited, the TLR5-deficient mice were still less sensitive to insulin than the normal mice.

The TLR5-deficient mice also developed metabolic syndrome, which could cause weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, and it could raise the risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.

While the study was limited to mice, experts still believe they might applicable to humans as well. The findings suggested that excess caloric consumption is not only the result of undisciplined eating style but also changes in appetite and metabolism caused by the intestinal bacteria.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It Is Not Too Difficult To Prevent Hypertension!

Hypertension, or more commonly known as high blood pressure, is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. It usually has no symptoms but it can lead to development of many complications including heart disease, kidney failure and stroke, if the condition is not controlled. Many people can have hypertension for years even without knowing it.

Yet, hypertension is regarded as a “neglected disease”! This is what a report, commissioned by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published on February 22, 2010 in the Institute of Medicine, suggested.

The report showed that nearly one-third of the American adults have hypertension, and the number is on the rise. Every year, hypertension also accounts for about one-sixth of adult deaths, which is a 25 percent increase from 1995 to 2005.

The prevailing measures for hypertension prevention is definitely inadequate: doctors do not treat it aggressively and governments have not sufficiently prioritized their task. But the report stressed that prevent and treat hypertension is not difficult at all. Some means that would help manage and even prevent hypertension were outlined in the report.

The first priority is to cut the salt intake. It is estimated that some 80 percent of Americans are consuming more than the recommended amount of salt and the number is increasing! As some 70 percent of Americans had their sodium (salt) intake from package foods and restaurants, and not from their family meals, it is important for the food industry to manufacture and supply foods that contain less salt to the public.

Health experts are required to do their part, too. It is known that only one-third of people who have hypertension have the condition controlled. Many people who either are not aware that hypertension has struck them or have hypertensive condition not appropriately controlled by the health care providers who have diagnosed it.

Effort should be made to break the economic barriers that prevent patients from taking their medication. It is recommended that CDC need to work closely with various relevant parties to help hypertensive patients who need the medications.

Besides cutting salt, people should also eat more potassium, get some exercise and lose some weight. These steps would surely make a big difference in how many people suffer hypertension.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Be Happy for Heart Disease Prevention!

There are about 2.5 million people in Britain with heart disease, which is the single biggest killer, causing 94,000 deaths a year.

While “do not smoke, have a healthy diet and exercise regularly” are the 3 basic things that people could do to maintain a healthy heart and avoid heart attack, a paper published online on February 18, 2010 in the European Heart Journal indicated that happiness might help to keep a healthy heart!

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, America used a 5-point scale to measure happiness levels of more than 1,700 adults in Canada with no heart disease in 1995. After a decade, they examined the 145 people who developed heart disease and found that happier people were less likely to have had heart problem.

After statistically adjusting to account for other factors like age, gender and smoking, it was found that for every point on the happiness scale, people were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease.

It has been known that depression and stress would significantly raise people’s risk of developing heart disease, but this study is believed to be the first to suggest happiness could lessen heart disease risk.

Happy people tend to be more likely to have a healthier lifestyle. This could be owing to an unknown genetic trait embedded in these people making them happy and have less heart disease.

According to researchers, even if one is not naturally a happy person, just try acting like one; it could really help the heart!

Ordinary people can ensure they engage with some activities that they like in their daily lives. For example, spending 15 minutes or so to read a book or incorporate activities like walking or listening to music in the daily schedule if these activities could improve one’s mood.

Nevertheless, as this study used an experimental design that is good for observation of trends and associations, it does not prove cause and effect nor confirm lowering risk of heart disease by changing one’s mood. Perhaps, more studies should be carried out to find out more from the cause and effect perspective.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Why A High-Fat Diet Should Be Avoided?

People are usually advised not to have high-fat diet, as this would very likely make people become overweight or even obese. At the same time, it would increase the chance of developing many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

A study, believed to be the largest to look at stroke risk in women and across all types of fat, revealed that eating a high-fat diet especially trans fats, could raise the risk for ischemic stroke in postmenopausal women. Ischemia stoke is the most common type of stoke caused clogged blood vessels supplying the brain.

Women who aged 55 and above and ate the most total fat, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as trans and saturated fats, had a 44 percent higher risk of ischemic stroke, as compared to those who ate the least. Meanwhile, women who consumed the highest amount of trans fat had a 30 percent more likely to get ischemic stroke, compared with those who consumed the least.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill presented their findings on February 24, 2010 at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference 2010.

Previous studies had linked trans fat to the development of coronary heart disease, but studies on the association of ischemic stroke and fat have been inconclusive.

87,230 participants in the Women's Health Initiative, which is a federally funded study for revealing health risks from taking hormone pills for menopause symptoms, were involved. Participants, between the age of 50 and 79, were asked to fill out detailed surveys on their diets when they enrolled. They were divided into 4 groups based on how much fat they ate, and were followed for an average of 7.6 years to see how many had suffered ischemia stroke. A total of 1049 ischemic strokes were found among the women.

It has been known that postmenopausal women would face a higher risk of ischemic stroke than men of the same age. Before menopause, women have a lower risk of stroke than men of similar age. Nevertheless, their risk doubles every 10 years after the age of 55.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can Fish Oil Really Prevent Heart Disease?

Omega-3 fatty acid is healthy for all from growing children to heart disease patients. This is the message conveyed to people for years by many health professionals and doctors. In recent years, omega-3 has even been added to some foods such as margarine and eggs.

However, Dutch researchers found in their study of about 5,000 heart attack survivors that eating about 400 milligrams of fish fatty acids per day did not significantly decrease the risk of getting heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular events for those patients who were already getting good care. 400 milligrams of fish fatty acids is the equivalent of 2 fatty fish meals.

At the end of 3 and half years, there was no change in death, heart attack and other heart problems between those who consumed margarine with added omega-3 fatty acids and those who did not.

The findings were presented by researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands during the month of August 2010 at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, and published online by the New England Journal Of Medicine.

Does the results mean that getting more of the fatty acid does not has any benefit? Of course NO!

As confirmed by several studies, omega-3 fish fatty acid (mostly from fish oil) help reduce heart disease. It would reduce the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) that can lead to sudden death, decrease triglyceride (harmful fats) levels, slow the growth of atherosclerotic plaque that could clog arteries, and lower blood pressure (slightly).

The reason that adding a low-dose of omega-3 fatty acid did not offer extra protection, as explained by the researchers, is that the participants were taken good care by their doctors: they were taking the best medicines to prevent future heart problem. Among the participants, about 98 percent were on anti-platelet treatments, 90 percent were taking blood pressure lowering agents and 85 percent were taking lipid-lowering agents.

As compared to those heart patients in earlier research who did benefit by taking fish oil pills, the participants in this study were also older (aged between 60 and 80) and took part in the study years after their heart attack.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Higher Vitamin-B Intake Could Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk!

In order to prevent heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease), people might need to consume more foods that contain folate and Vitamin-B6.

Folate, also known as Vitamin-Bg, is a water-soluble Vitamin-B that is contained naturally in food. The synthetic form of folate found in supplements is known as folic acid. Folate can be found in leafy vegetables (like spinach and turnip greens), fruits (like citrus fruits and juices), fortified cereals, and dried beans and peas. Vegetables, fish, liver, meats, whole grains, and fortified cereals are good sources of Vitamin-B6.

A group of researchers from Osaka University, who published their findings in Stroke (Journal of the American Heart Association), reported that eating more foods rich in folate and Vitamin-B6 could lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease for Japanese women and might cut the risk of heart failure in Japanese men.

The dietary consumption of Vitamin-B6 is generally considered low in Japan than in the United States but the findings were consistent with those studies conducted in Europe and North America.

As part of the large Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study, data collected through completed food frequency questionnaires from 23,119 men and 35,611 women, aged between 40 and 79, were analyzed. All the participants were followed for a period of 14 years and it was found that 986 died from stroke, 424 from heart disease and 2,087 from all diseases related to cardiovascular system.

Based on intake of folate, Vitamin-B6 and Vitamin-B12, the participants were divided into 5 groups. The researchers found that with higher intake of folate and Vitamin-B6, number of men died of heart failure was significantly lower, and number of women died from stroke, heart disease and total cardiovascular diseases was significantly fewer. However, people taking higher Vitamin-B12 were not associated with lower death risk.

According to the researchers, folate and Vitamin-B6 might reduce homocysteine levels in the body by breaking them down thus help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood that is affected by diet and genetic factors. A high level of homocysteine might raise the risk of getting coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

How Is Intelligence Associated With Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women not only in the United States but also in Europe and most industrialized countries. The data collected by the World Health Organization showed that cardiovascular disease (includes heart disease and stroke) and diabetes accounted for 32 percent of all death around the world in 2005.

Diabetes together with high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity are some of the known risk factors for heart disease. Interestingly, researchers from Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) and Social and Public Health Science Unit in Glasgow, Scotland, recently declared intelligence as a predictor of heart disease.

Published in the February 2010 issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, the findings of a study derived from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study indicated that lower intelligence quotient (IQ) scores were associated with higher likelihood of getting heart disease and death, and IQ scores were ranked second among other indicators of heart disease after smoking. The top 5 heart disease risk factors identified in the study were cigarette smoking, IQ, low income, high blood pressure and low physical activity.

The study analyzed data collected in 1987 of 1,145 men and women who aged around 55 and were followed up for 20 years. The data collected including height, weight, blood pressure, smoking habits, physical activity, education and occupation, cognitive ability (IQ). The IQ scores were assessed using a standard test of general intelligence.

From the point of view of researchers, there are a number of possible reasons that could explain why lower IQ scores could raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. For instance, a person's approach to healthy behavior (like smoking or exercise) and its correlates (includes obesity, blood pressure) do have something to do with his or her intelligence.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers suggested that health promotion campaigns should be planned with consideration of individual cognition ability (IQ).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Would Depression Raise Stroke Risk?

When the blood flow to the brain is blocked, stroke would occur. It is one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability globally. It usually happens to elderly people but it can strike anyone including young people, children and even babies too.

Being a state of feeling sad, depression can affect thoughts, feelings and ability to function in everyday’s life. A number of factors including stress, difficult life events, side effects of medications, and unpleasant environmental factors can trigger depression. Depression can occur at any age. It is estimated that almost 10 percent of American adults (aged 18 and above) experience some sort of depression every year.

There are not many debates on the argument that people who had strokes are likely to have depression, as previous studies had shown. But it appears that experts have yet to have consensus on whether depression would lead to stroke.

For example, researchers from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pointed out in the July/August 2000 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine that people experiencing symptoms of depression are at an increased risk of getting stroke. The 20-year study found that people with high levels of depression symptoms were 73 percent more likely to have stroke, while those with moderate levels of depression symptoms were 25 percent more likely to develop stroke.

On the other hand, a large study, published on March 3, 2008 in the journal Neurology, reported that depression does not appear to increase the risk of stroke, and it is the high degree of psychological distress seemed to raise the risk.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge studied more than 20,000 people aged between 41 and 80 over a period of 8 and half years to discover if there is a link between depression and stroke.

600 people in the study suffered a stroke, 28 percent of which were fatal. But the researchers could not find any significant link between depression and stroke, after they factored for known risk factors like family history, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking. Instead, they identified psychological distress as the culprit. The most distressed people had a 40 percent higher chance of getting a stroke. The findings were similar for both men and women.

Distress occurs when an individual could not cope with stress. It can be marked by anxiety and problems with emotional control.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why Are Urban Migrants Likely To Be Obese and Diabetics?

Diabetes is closely linked to obesity, which is a result of increased consumption of saturated fats and sugar coupled with reduced physical activities. Both diabetes and obesity, if not treated and managed appropriately, can lead to development of many other complications including heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and stroke.

India, with the second largest population in the world, is experiencing diabetes epidemic, just like the rest of the world. Between 1984 and 2004, the number of diabetics has increased in the urban areas of India from 5 percent to 15 percent.

Being an essential part of the economic development, urbanization will naturally attract more people to migrate from rural areas to cities. Such movement would induce changes in diet and behavior for those migrants.

According to the findings of a large study published during April 2010 in “PLoS Medicine”, migrants moving from villages to cities to work are at a higher risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes, compared to their siblings who remain in the villages.

Researchers from the South Asia Network for Chronic Disease in New Delhi, India found that half of the migrants had gained about 14 pounds (6 to 7 kilos) of weight by the tenth year of their relocation. The increase was dramatic and some migrants even gained much more than that.

The study surveyed migrant workers from 4 factories in the north, central and south India, their siblings who were left behind in villages and the non-migrant urban workers. All participants had to answer questions regarding their diet and physical activity, and their blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) were also measured.

The results showed that migrants and the urban workers were 3 to 4 times more likely to be obese and more than 2 times more likely to be diabetics than people remained in the villages. Meanwhile, the migrants and urban workers were almost twice more likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) and have higher blood sugar than the villagers. Similar patterns of obesity and diabetes could also be found in women.

Evidence gathered from the study indicated the migrants, who had more money to spend on food, tend to eat more of everything (especially fat) than people in rural areas with other nutrients remained similar. The culprit behind the weight gain was not the Western foods but the ordinary everyday Indian foods.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why Small Country Can Have Big Health Problems?

Qatar, with a population of merely 1.6 million, is definitely a small country. But on the other hand, it is a very wealthy country. Its capita gross domestic product ranks second in the world and it has the third-largest proven reserves of natural gas.

The privileged and luxury lifestyle supported by the wealth also creates serious health problems related to obesity, diabetes and genetic disorder for Qatar, together with its neighbors like Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Despite of being small, Qatar is among the greatest prevalence of obesity, diabetes and genetic disorders in the world. Figures provided by the International Association for the Study of Obesity indicated that Qatar has the sixth largest number of obese in the world and has a highest rate of obesity among boy in the Middle East and North African region. Qatar also has the fifth largest number of diabetics for the age ranges 20 to 79, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

As predicted the Qatari health experts, 73 percent of Qatari women and 69 percent of the men would qualify as obese within the next 5 years (from 2010). Obesity can lead to development of diabetes, and many other medical ailments including heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke.

Despite all the challenges faced, Qatar has directed their attention to the treatment of diseases instead of focusing on prevention. Such peculiar course of action could only be explained by the Qatari lifestyle and tradition.

For instance, if one has taken lunch and then visit a friend. Very often, the friend will still bring many foods to the table. If one does not eat, the friend would consider it as an insult. In other word, people cannot get together without eating together.

It is understood that a typical Qatari student would skip breakfast, and then eat a snack and lunch at school. When the student returns home, they would be given another lunch, usually heavy meal consisting of rice and lamb. Later in the afternoon, the student will have snack on cake and tea. In the night, they eat dinner, often fast food that is delivered. Attitude can be the other challenge. For the majority of Qatari, there is nothing wrong to be obese.

As regards birth defects (genetic disorder), health experts blame it to consanguineous marriages (marrying within families), a social tradition that the Qatari is determined to hold.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is There A Need To Ban Free Toys With Kid Meals?

Fighting obesity epidemic, especially children obesity, has been one of a top priority tasks for many countries. This is because obese or overweight children can develop many medical disorders including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke later on when they grow up. The potential medical expenses to be spent on these people for treatments would be huge.

For years, “Happy Meals” from McDonald as well as meals bundled with free toys and goodies from other fast food restaurants have been the favorite meal options for children. There is no question that such marketing approach does help the fast food companies build demand for their products.

Health experts have repeatedly pointed their fingers to the unhealthy fast foods as the culprits that are partly responsible for causing the childhood obesity epidemic. Some even blame the toys and freebies that come with the meals as a powerful lure for children, encouraging them to consume unhealthy food.

The social pressure has forced most fast food restaurants to introduce healthier meal options for children. However, most people are still not happy and feel that more actions should be taken to fight childhood obesity.

In United States, California was the first to ban on soda in public schools. On April 27, 2010, a bill was approved by Santa Clara County's Board of Supervisors to set basic nutritional standards for children’s meals. Only restaurants providing meals that comply with the national nutritional criteria for children can give away free toys with meals.

Restaurants that offer foods with excessive calories, more than 120 calories for a beverage, 200 calories for a single food item or 485 calories for a meal, would not be allowed to use toys as rewards for the children who purchase the foods. Meanwhile, there will also be limits on sodium, excess fat and excess sugar.

In Santa Clara County, one in four youths are either overweight or obese. A doctor revealed that parents coming into his clinic admitted that they often buy Happy Meals and other fast food for their children because of the free toys included. He further added that the obese children entering his clinic include a 5-year-old with Type-2 diabetes. It is hoped that the new bill would help parents decide what meal option they want for their children.

There is no surprise that people in favor of the new bill were public health administrators, parents and doctors, and those who opposed were fast-food franchisees, other parents, and fans of fast-food toys.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Air Pollution Could Be a Risk Factor for Heart Disease!

A person, who is exposed to air pollution, could develop cardiovascular (heart disease and stroke). Though the risk is comparatively smaller than those known risk factors like smoking, obesity, or high blood pressure, air pollution is still a public health issues that should not be ignored. This is because there are a large number of people exposing to air pollution over their entire lifetime.

Several epidemiological studies conducted worldwide have found a link between increased risk for cardiovascular disease and short- and long-term exposure to pollution, especially particulate matter. This prompts the American Heart Association (AHA) to issue a statement for healthcare professionals on air pollution and cardiovascular disease in May 2004.

AHA advise people with heart disease, or those with certain cardiovascular risk factors, pulmonary disease and diabetes as well as the elderly to restrict their outdoor activity if the air pollution level is high. The air pollution level is indicated by the daily Air Quality Index monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In Hong Kong, the air pollution raised to 500 on Mar 22, 2010, the highest possible reading on the 23-year-old index, because of the sandstorms in the northern China. The government immediately advises people with heart disease or respiratory problems to avoid staying in heavy traffic over a long period of time.

In fact, the existing guideline issued by the Hong Kong government advise people who have asthma and cardiovascular disease NOT to engage with outdoor activity and physical exercise should the index exceed 100.

It is understood the issuance of such alert would certainly bring inconvenience to the residence in Hong Kong. For instance, parents have to deal with schools cancelling sports days and others might have to change their routine behavior.

According to the Hong Kong’s authority, occasional rain might help lower the pollution index level. However, their long-term plan is to accelerate replacement of old buses, change transit routes and set up low-emission zones to cut pollution. It is expected that old buses will be eliminated from city roads by 2019.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gene Mutation Can Harm The Heart Too!

Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine reported on April 13, 2010 in the Journal of Neuroscience that a gene mutation in the brain of people with epilepsy can create trouble for their hearts and even make them victims of sudden death.

Their findings explained why epileptics (people with epilepsy) who are otherwise healthy can have irregular heartbeat and their likelihood to die suddenly and unexpectedly are more than 10 times than that of the general population. The findings might also help identify people who are likely to have sudden cardiac and provide improved treatment.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines epilepsy as “any of various disorders marked by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain and typically manifested by sudden brief episodes of altered or diminished consciousness, involuntary movements, or convulsion.”

You will be surprised to learn that there are a substantial number of epileptics, about 50 million, around the world. Almost 90 percent of them are in developing countries. Though such disorder is more likely to be found among young children or people older than 65 years old, it can occur at any time.

While epilepsy can usually be controlled, it cannot be cured with medication. In some difficult cases, surgery might be an option. There are over 30 percent of epileptics do not have seizure control even with the help of the best available medications.

Researchers focused on abnormal ‘ion channels' in the brain that cause epilepsy as well as put individuals at risk for sudden unexplained death. An ion channel is a protein that allows charged particles leave or enter a cell to generate electrical signals, which is a basic process of nerve cell communication. These ion channels are also responsible for proper heart function, as pointed out in the study.

In the laboratory, electrical signals from the brains and hearts of mice bred to lack of the gene for the ion channel known as Kv1.1 were recorded. The results showed that the hearts of the mice had irregular heartbeat, signs of severe epilepsy and involuntary movement.

The heartbeats became even more erratic when the mice had epileptic seizures. This suggests that the signals from their brains to their hearts were disordered. After several episodes of cardiac arrest, the mice died.

Friday, July 02, 2010

What Is Endothelial Progenitor Cells?

Ever since they were discovered in 1997, Endothelial Progenitor Cells (EPC) have become the targets of scientists who hope to explore the potential of these cells in the process of cardiovascular damage and repair.

So what is EPC? According to (an online medical dictionary), EPC is “a primitive cell made in the bone marrow that can enter the bloodstream and go to areas of blood vessel injury to help repair the damage”.

The number of EPC in the blood can be used to assess the risk factors in cardiovascular disease. A shortage or ageing of endothelial progenitor cells might cause blood vessel disease.

A study released on September 8, 2005 concluded that patients with higher level of circulating endothelial progenitor cells detected in their bloodstream experienced fewer repeat heart attacks. Meanwhile, a number of small phase clinical trials have indicated EPC as a potential treatment for various types of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Detection of EPC level of suspected heart disease patients within the shortest duration is crucial because it would help doctors provide timely treatment to their patients. Unfortunately, the conventional method, known as flow cytometry, would need between 4 and 5 hours to get the results. This is obviously not fast enough to treat acute cases.

Recently, A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME) announced that they have invented a new device that could rapidly detect the level of EPC in a heart disease patient. With the help of so-called microfluidic system, the device requires just a finger prick of blood from that patient.

For more information on microfluidic system and A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME), please visit their website via the following link:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Women Should Walk to Lower Their Stroke Risk!

Having adequate physical activity such as brisk walking can help prevent heart disease. The recommendation by the American Heart Association for adults is to do 2-and-a-half hours a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of both.

Recently, a group of researchers from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that women could actually reduce their risk of stroke by walking. Published on April 6, 2010 in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, the findings reported that women who said they walked briskly had a 37 percent lower risk of stroke than those who did not walk. For those women who walked at least 2 hours a week at any pace had a 30 percent lower risk of stroke.

Previous studies have already reported physical activity decreases stroke risk. For example, a study by the Harvard School of Public Health reported in 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association that physical activity, including walking, provided a significant reduction in stroke risk. The new study, however, took a step forward to focus on the kind of exercise that might be most beneficial for women.

About 39,000 female health workers who were 45 and older were involved in the study known as Women’s Health Study. The women were asked about their physical activity at the start of the study (1992-1995) and periodically reported their activities thereafter. During the 12-year period, it was found that 579 of them had stroke.

In addition to walking, the researchers also examined other vigorous activities such as running, swimming and biking. However, no link was found between those vigorous activities and a reduced stroke risk.

This could be due to insufficient number of women in that group to show a difference or moderate activity could be better at lowering blood pressure, as explained by the researchers.

While the study was observational with self-reported data, the research team did control well of other risk factors including age, aspirin use and smoking that could affect stroke risk. The researchers were happy to find that moderate activities are powerfully effective in cutting the stroke risk.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. Besides high blood pressure, heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and obesity are also risk factors that could lead to stroke.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Can Fat Dissolving Treatment Help Achieve Healthy Weight?

Most obese or overweight people are finding ways and means to get rid of the extra fat and weight in their bodies. This is because they are aware that the extra fat and weight they have will subsequently bring them many medical disorders like diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and stroke.

Naturally, the best way to reduce these extra fats and weights is to adopt healthy eating habits as well as perform regular exercise. However, the process takes much longer time. That is why many people would rather turn to certain cosmetic surgery like liposuction for almost immediate effect.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, liposuction was the most common plastic surgery procedure performed in 2006 with 403,684 patients. Nevertheless, removal of very large volumes of fat (more than 5 liters) is indeed a very complex and potentially a life-threatening procedure.

Recently, many have taken up so-called fat dissolving treatments, a popular nonsurgical alternative to liposuction, offered by spas. These procedures have many different names, such as lipodissolve, lipozap, lipotherapy, mesotherapy or injection lipolysis. Usually, they require unproven injection of drugs.

According to a statement issued on April 7, 2010 by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these fat dissolving treatments do not actually eliminate fat and companies that are promoting them should stop claiming so.

Usually, these fat dissolving treatments require people to have injection of 2 drugs called phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate. Some spas and promoters even have other drugs or components of other products like vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts included in the injection. The FDA confirmed that none of these treatments has been shown to work in credible clinical trials.

FDA have also sent warning letters to many companies promoting such treatments and even warned a Brazilian company that markets so-called lipodissolve products on 2 websites. The aim is to let the public know that FDA does not approve the products used to perform lipodissolve procedures for fat removal.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joint Effort To Cut Salt Intake by 20 Percent by 2014

Salt is a mineral consists mainly of sodium chloride. It is essential for human body as it helps maintain the body’s fluid balance. However, too much of it inside the body can never be good as it could cause high blood pressure that would in turn lead to heart disease and stroke.

Americans consume about twice the recommended intake of salt (1,500 mg for most adults and 2,300 mg for others) each day. Studies show that only 11 percent of the salt (sodium) intake in the daily diets comes from the saltshakers while nearly 80 percent of salt is added to foods before they are sold. In fact, much of the salt in Americans’ diets comes from breads, muffins and other foods that do not taste salty at all.

Every year, the number of deaths of heart attack and stroke as a result of high salt intake are roughly 23,000 in the New York City and more than 800,000 nationwide. This also costs American billions in healthcare expenses.

2 years ago, the National Salt Reduction Initiative was created with the aim of reducing the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent by 2014. This also means that the nation's salt intake can be reduced by 20 percent. This voluntary effort was coordinated by New York City.

Reducing sodium intake to the recommended levels could prevent between 44,000 and 92,000 deaths from heart attack and stroke, and save between US$10 and $24 billion in health care every year in the United States.

The program is actually modeled on a similar program in the United Kingdom, where food manufacturers have to reduce salt levels by at least 40 percent in some products. Other countries like Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, and New Zealand have also launched similar national initiatives to help cut the salt content in food.

On April 26, 2010, the first 16 companies announced their formal commitments to the National Salt Reduction Initiative, which is a public-private partnership that also includes 18 national health organizations, 29 cities, states and related entities.

The 16 companies are Au Bon Pain, Boar's Head, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose.

Mars Foods would lower the salt in its Uncle Ben's flavored rice products by 25 percent over 5 years. For Subway, their sandwich chain has already cut sodium by 30 percent in its European outlets and is working on reducing salt in its US restaurants. Heinz has already cut sodium in Bagel Bites frozen pizza snacks by more than 20 percent and would reduce sodium by 15 percent in all the ketchup it sells in the United States starting May 1.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is There A Faster Cheaper and Painless Way To Test Diabetes?

Diabetes, if not managed or treated with care, could easily lead to serious medical conditions including blindness, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, nervous system disease, stroke and amputation.

In order to diagnose whether a person is having diabetes or pre-diabetes, doctors usually use a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test to measure blood glucose in that person who has not eaten anything for at least 8 hours. Sometimes, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which measures blood glucose after the person fasts at least 8 hours and 2 hours after the person drinks a glucose-containing beverage, might also be employed.

For diagnosis of diabetes (not for pre-diabetes), a random plasma glucose test is used. The test, also known as casual plasma glucose test, measures blood glucose of a person at any time without regarding when this person last ate.

Here comes the so-called Wrinkle Test, which is considered as a faster and cheaper method to diagnose if a person has diabetes. The Wrinkle Test can identify a disorder in the sensors on a person’s skin and was developed by researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the National University Hospital (NUH).

Carrying out the test is fairly simple. Apply a local anesthetic as cream on the fingers of the person being tested. If the skin does not wrinkle after some time, then this person must has a nerve fiber disorder that could be caused by disease like diabetes.

The results of the test are compared against a scale of between zero and 4. Zero indicates there is no wrinkling and is a sign that the constriction of blood vessels is being impaired. Studies have shown that wrinkling is caused by a constriction of blood vessels. A patient with a small nerve fiber disorder, which disrupts the constriction, would have fewer wrinkles.

Though many diseases could actually cause a disorder on the small nerve fibers on the patients’ skin, diabetes is the most important cause because almost half of the diabetic patients in Singapore suffer from some kind of the disorder.

Nevertheless, Wrinkle test is surely not the only way to identify nerve fiber disorders. In fact, nerve disorder could be diagnosed by removing a skin sample, which was then sent to laboratory for testing. And it usually takes between 1 to 2 weeks before results can be known.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Can Resistance Exercise Really Help Those With Type-2 Diabetes?

When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, his or her body would have problem making or using insulin. Insulin is required for moving glucose (blood sugar) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy.

An estimated 24 million people in the Untied States have diabetes, with 90 percent of them are diagnosed as Type-2 diabetes, which typically develops after the age of 45. And, it could be the result of unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The glucose levels found in patients with Type-2 diabetes are high because of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. Insulin resistance means that fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond normally to insulin. As such, blood sugar does not get into cells to be stored for energy.

Once sugar fails to enter cells, abnormally high levels of sugar will accumulate in the blood stream. This will often trigger the pancreas to produce more and more insulin, but can never be enough to keep up with the body's demand.

Diabetes is already a chronic disease by itself. If it is not managed appropriately, it can surely place patients at a higher risk of developing other serious complications including heart disease, blood vessel disease, kidney failure, nerve diseases and even blindness and amputation of legs.

In September 2007, a paper published by Canadian researchers in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that Type-2 diabetics, who exercised regularly, could have better blood-sugar control, especially if they did aerobic exercises as well as lifted weights.

According to most doctors and health experts, exercise is another powerful way to reduce blood sugar, in addition to strict diet control and medication. In general, exercise would help diabetics reduce insulin resistance by allowing cells in the body to have a higher uptake of glucose in the blood stream. This certainly would improve blood sugar control.

Besides aerobic exercise, Type-2 diabetics are advised to perform resistance training at least 3 times a week. Resistance training is one that includes exercises conducted using weights, weight machines or elastic bands. Its purpose is to improve strength by slowly and progressively overloading the muscles over a series of exercise sessions.

Nevertheless, diabetics should be aware of some risks in overdoing exercise. The most common one is patients might experience low blood sugar after drastic exercise. As such, patients should have their blood sugar checked before and after performing their exercise.

Meanwhile, patients with diabetes over long period of time, or kidney, eye or feet complications from diabetes might encounter problems when exercising. So, it is better to consult a physician before starting to engage any training program.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How Could A Bank Crisis Link To Heart Disease?

If someone says that you would be at risk of getting heart disease if you do not exercise and do not watch your diet, you would surely not be surprise! However, you would probably stare at a person who tells you that you will very likely to have heart disease if there is a repetition of “bank crisis”. This is understandable because in your memory, bank crisis has never been quoted as a risk factor for heart disease.

On February 26, 2008, a team of researchers from Cambridge University reported that if there were a widespread repetition of bank crisis (like the one at Britain’s Northern Rock Bank), thousands of people could be die from heart attack.

They pointed out that the stress of a system-wide bank crisis could contribute to a 6.4-percent increase in heart attack in countries like Britain and the United States. Take Britain as example, between 1,280 and 5,130 people could just die if there were a significant number of banks being forced to close down. This could apply to developing countries as well. The number of heart attack in country like India could rise by as much as 26 percent.

The researchers named their study as "Can A Bank Crisis Break Your Heart?" The findings of the study were based on comparisons of World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank data on mortality rates and previous banking crisis between 1960 and 2002. The study was initiated in September 2007 after the Northern Rock Bank nearly collapse. In order to stay afloat, the bank was forced to apply for emergency central bank loans.

Banking crisis and the large-scale economic turbulence it brings along were found to be a significant determinant of short-term increases in heart disease and mortality. Every time there is a systemic bank crisis, cardiac deaths surge briefly and regularly. The stress level during such times is very similar to those experienced by individuals during earthquakes, wars or even terrorist attack. This would frequently raise heart and blood pressure, which will in turn increase the chance of getting heart attack.

Older people would especially be hurt the most because they feel unsafe about their lifetime-accumulated savings and because of their possible predisposition to conditions like diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), overweight, etc.

In the case of Northern Rock Bank, spreading panic had caused ordinary customers to completely lose their trust in the financial system that appeared to have completely eroded.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Syndromes of Mini Stroke Should Not Be Ignored?

Mini stroke refers to a transient ischemic attack (TIA) in which there is a temporary interruption of blood flow to part of the brain, usually for less than 24 hours. The syndromes of mini stroke, similar to those of a stroke, include dizziness, trouble walking and speaking, as well as paralysis or numbness on one side of the body. These symptoms are frequently mild and resolve quickly, within several minutes to several hours. Therefore, it is easy for people to ignore. However, mini stroke is a warning sign that a larger stroke might be on its way.

Researchers from the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at the University of Oxford reported that mini stroke could lead to a major stroke within 1 week in 1 out of 20 people and should be treated as a medical emergency.

They further pointed out that patients who were immediately treated for mini stroke had almost no risk of a major stroke later on. However, patients who did nothing had an 11-percent risk of a major stroke within 1 week.

The findings of the study, which combined results from 18 different groups of patients, totaling to more than 10,000 people, were published on November 11, 2007 in the Lancet Neurology.

The researchers found that 5 percent of patients had a major stroke within 7 days of a mini stroke. For patients who were treated for a mini stroke at a specialist neurology clinic, only less than 1 percent of them got a major stroke within a week, compared with 11 percent for those who ignored the signs of mini stroke.

They also noted that the risk of stroke reported among patients who were treated urgently in specialist clinics was noticeably lower than risk reported among those who were treated in alternative clinics. These results confirmed that mini stroke is a medical emergency and that urgent treatment in a specialist clinic might substantially reduce the risk of stroke later on.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Is Hormone Drugs Dangerous To Heart Disease Patients?

Being second most common cancer in men worldwide after lung cancer, prostate cancer kills 254,000 a year globally.

Hormone-based drugs, which block tumor-fueling surges of testosterone, were supposed to help most men with aggressive prostate cancer. Such therapy, however, does have some side effects.

As soon as treatment begins, some patients might experience impotence, hot flushes and sweating, breast tenderness, tumor flare pain. For those patients who are on long-term treatment, other side effects including weight gain, memory problems, mood swings and depression, bone thinning (osteoporosis) and even risk of earlier heart attack, might occur.

A paper that was published on August 25, 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that such hormone-based drugs might be dangerous for some men with heart disease.

After studying cases of more than 5,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1997 and 2006, researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston reported that those with more than one form of heart disease or diabetes were most likely to die when they got the drugs along with radiation therapy.

The men in the study received both radiation treatment (either external beam radiation or litter radioactive pellets known as brachytherapy) and one of several hormone-based drugs to suppress testosterone production.

It was found that more than 400 died over a follow-up period of 5 years. Men who had heart failure or heart attack were more than twice as likely to die as those without heart disease or who had just one symptom, such as high blood cholesterol. The finding actually showed that 26 percent of the men with heart failure or who had heart attack died, comparing to 11 percent of others.

The number of dead was just 5 percent of the total number of men in the study. As such, the researchers explained why overall, the hormone therapy still helps many other cancer patients. But they also advised doctors to pay attention to their patients with serious heart disease and should be aware of the possible risk that these patients would have.

In fact, some doctors are starting to give less aggressive treatment for some patients as many prostate tumors are slow-growing and take years to cause harm.