Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2012, 5:17pm

Snacking adds to woe Even if family history puts you at a high risk of cancer, research shows a healthy lifestyle could help. A new study has found that loading up on snack foods may increase cancer risk in individuals with Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition that increases one's risk of developing colorectal, endometrial and other cancers at an early age. Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands collected dietary information from 486 individuals with Lynch syndrome. During an average follow-up of 20 months, colorectal polyps (precancerous lesions) were detected in 58 participants. Patients who had higher consumption of snack foods - such as fast food snacks, chips, or fried snacks - were twice as likely to develop polyps as patients with lower intakes of snack foods. The study was published online in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society. The team's previous work revealed smoking and obesity may also increase the risk of developing colorectal polyps among individuals with Lynch syndrome.


Floor power to you At your own pace, try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support needed. Each of the two movements is scored out of five - subtract one point for each support used (hand or knee, for example). The total score, according to a new study in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, can predict how long you will live. Researchers in Brazil put more than 2,000 men and women aged between 51 and 80 years through this simple screening test. The subjects had a median follow-up of 6.3 years. Over the study period, 159 subjects died, mostly the people with low test scores. A one-point increment was related to a 21 per cent reduction in mortality. Lead researcher Dr Claudio Gil Araujo says the study shows that not only aerobic fitness, but also high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination have a favourable influence on life expectancy.

Dogs know their business A new study has found that dogs can sniff out Clostridium difficile, the infective agent that is responsible for many of the dreaded "hospital acquired infections". The findings, published on the British Medical Journal website support previous studies of dogs detecting various types of cancer. Diarrhoea due to C. difficile has a specific smell. A two-year-old male beagle, Cliff, was trained for two months by a professional instructor to identify the bacteria in stool samples and in patients with the C. difficile infection. The dog's detection abilities were formally tested on 100 C. difficile samples, half positive and half negative. He correctly identified all 50 positives and 47 negatives. The dog was then taken onto two hospital wards, where he correctly identified 25 out of 30 patients and 265 out of 270 negative controls. The researchers add that the dog was quick and efficient, screening a complete hospital ward in less than 10 minutes.


Old athletes never die Olympic medallists may live longer than laypeople, but researchers say everyone could enjoy this "survival advantage" by just meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines. Two studies were published on the British Medical Journal website last week: the first compared life expectancy among more than 15,000 Olympians who won medals between 1896 and 2010 with general population groups. All medallists lived an average of 2.8 years longer. The second study tracked nearly 10,000 athletes who took part in at least one Olympics between 1896 and 1936, and found that athletes from sports with higher cardiovascular intensity (like cycling, rowing, gymnastics and tennis) had similar mortality rates compared to athletes in lower intensity sports, like golf or cricket. In an editorial, two public health experts say those who do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity also have a survival advantage of up to several years.