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.