Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go adds vital steps for healthier life, US study shows

Smartphone game players twice as likely to reach recommended daily 10,000-step target and lower their risk of heart attack or stroke, particularly those who are overweight

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 8:00pm

People who play Pokemon Go may end up taking thousands of extra steps each day, and this lowers the risk of heart disease, particularly in people who are overweight or mainly sedentary, US researchers say. The study tracked 167 players of the game, which requires users to walk in pursuit of animated creatures to capture with a mobile device.

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On average, players added nearly 2,000 steps a day, which translates to an 8 per cent lower risk of heart attack or stroke in overweight people. Before playing Pokemon Go, participants walked an average of 5,678 steps a day. After, the average count rose to 7,654. Participants were also twice as likely to reach 10,000 daily steps after playing Pokemon Go than they were before playing the game.

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Players reached a daily step goal of 10,000 nearly 28 per cent of days after playing the game, compared to just 15 per cent before. Participants who had low activity levels before playing Pokemon Go appeared to benefit most from the game, walking nearly 3,000 additional steps each day.

“Considering the low level of physical activity in the United States, doing some physical activity is always better than sitting on the couch,” says researcher Hanzhang Xu, a graduate student at Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, North Carolina. “While current physical activity guidelines recommend activity such as running or swimming to promote health and fitness, it should be noted that the best form of physical activity is the one that people will do.”

Anti-gout drug may alleviate bowel disease

A common drug that has been on the US market for 50 years to treat gout could also reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disorders and Crohn’s disease, researchers say. The study in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that a strain of baker’s yeast can live in the intestine and can worsen the pain, diarrhoea and cramping associated with inflammatory bowel disorders, which have no cure and affect some 1.6 million Americans. This yeast, known formally as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, “aggravated intestinal damage in mouse models of colitis” and also caused higher levels of uric acid in the gut, said the study. But when mice were given allopurinol – a drug that has been on the market since 1966 and is used to treat gout by reducing the amount of uric acid – their intestinal disease went away.

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Lead study author June Round of the University of Utah School of Medicine said some doctors have already prescribed allopurinol – known as Zyloprim and Aloprim and available in generic form – to patients with gout and Crohn’s disease, and have noticed that it appeared to ease symptoms of both. But these anecdotal observations should be followed up with clinical trials to gauge its effectiveness against inflammatory bowel disease, she said.

Not enough evidence to support conducting pelvic exams, task force says

A US medical task force has found that there is not enough evidence to support regular pelvic examinations in women who have no symptoms and are not pregnant, raising questions about the usefulness of the practice. Pelvic exams are often part of a woman’s annual gynaecological check-up, and may involve the physicians inserting his or her fingers inside the patient’s vagina and then feeling the outside of the lower belly for any bumps that might indicate cancer or abnormal growths. Rectal exams may also be included.

“The US Preventive Services Task Force has concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of performing screening pelvic examinations in asymptomatic, non-pregnant adult women for the early detection and treatment of a range of gynaecologic conditions,” says the statement, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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The task force did not issue a recommendation for or against pelvic exams and did not urge doctors to change their practice, but called for more research about the pros and cons. The task force also noted there is no change to its recommendations on regular Pap smear screenings for cervical cancer, which is called for every three years for most women. Rather, it pointed out that for otherwise healthy, non-pregnant women, “it is unclear whether performing screening pelvic examinations in asymptomatic women reduces the risk of illness or death”.

The task force is an independent panel of experts that makes recommendations about the effectiveness of preventive care services. Its review of scientific literature found nine relevant studies that included more than 27,000 women.

However, no studies examined the effectiveness of the pelvic exam in reducing the risk of dying from cancer or any other cause, or improving quality of life.