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Drinking coffee may lower your risk for skin cancer
Drinking coffee may lower your risk for skin cancer
January 22, 2015

A new study finds drinking coffee may actually lower the risk of a deadly form of skin cancer.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute looked at the coffee habits of about half a million participants.

They found those who drank four or more cups a day of caffeinated coffee had a 20% lower risk for malignant melanoma.

The study points out results are preliminary and may not apply to everyone.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Even with regular exercise, excessive sitting linked to disease, premature death
Even with regular exercise, excessive sitting linked to disease, premature death
January 22, 2015

Sitting on one's butt for a major part of the day may be deadly in the long run - even with a regimen of daily exercise, researchers say.

In an analysis that pooled data from 41 international studies, Toronto researchers found the amount of time a person sits during the day is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death, regardless of regular exercise.

"More than one half of an average person's day is spent being sedentary - sitting, watching television or working at a computer," said Dr. David Alter, a senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, who helmed the analysis.

"Our study finds that despite the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk for disease."

The paper, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that prolonged sedentary behaviour was associated with a 15 to 20 per cent higher risk of death from any cause; a 15 to 20 per cent higher risk of heart disease, death from heart disease, cancer, death from cancer; and as much as a 90 per cent increased risk of developing diabetes, said Alter.

And that was after adjusting for the effects of regular exercise.

"Avoiding sedentary time and getting regular exercise are both important for improving your health and survival," said Alter. But engaging in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily exercise does not mean it's OK to then "sit on your rear" for the rest of the day.

The paper's authors can't say how much sitting time is too much - more research is needed to understand what represents a healthy balance between being sedentary and engaging in physical activity.

Not surprisingly, however, they found that negative health effects from prolonged sitting are even more pronounced among those who do little or no exercise.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

The Secret to Longevity: Whole Grains. And, Yes, Popcorn Counts (But Without the Butter)
The Secret to Longevity: Whole Grains. And, Yes, Popcorn Counts (But Without the Butter)
January 8, 2015

A new study suggests the consumption of whole grain foods like oats, quinoa, brown rice and even popcorn (without the butter!) may increase a life span and decrease one's chances of death by cardiovascular disease.

The study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) appeared online on Monday at JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers looked at data from more than 74,000 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 44,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who filled out questionnaires about their diet every two or four years from the mid-1980s to 2010, including whole grain intake.

Adjusting for a variety of factors, such as age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity and overall diet excluding whole grains, the study found three important things:

Those who ate at least 28 grams of whole grains a day had a 5 percent lower risk of dying over the 25-year period, and a 9 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular-disease-related death. About 26,920 people in the study had died during the quarter century research period. However, whole grains did not have an effect on cancer-related deaths.

Those who replaced one serving a day of refined grains with whole grains reduced their risk of dying by 8 percent, and people who replaced one daily serving of red meat had reduced their risk by 20 percent.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Daily avocado can cut heart disease risk
Daily avocado can cut heart disease risk
January 8, 2015

Eating an avocado a day can lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, a new study has claimed.

One avocado a day as part of a heart healthy, cholesterol-lowering moderate-fat diet can help improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese individuals, researchers said.

Researchers evaluated the effect avocados had on traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.

Forty-five healthy, overweight or obese patients between the ages of 21 and 70 were put on three different cholesterol-lowering diets.

Participants consumed an average American diet (consisting of 34 per cent of calories from fat, 51 per cent carbohydrates, and 16 per cent protein) for two weeks prior to starting one of the following cholesterol lowering diets: lower fat diet without avocado, moderate-fat diet without avocado, and moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Random Mutations Responsible for About Two-Thirds of Cancer Risk
Random Mutations Responsible for About Two-Thirds of Cancer Risk
January 3, 2015

Although about one-third of cancers can be linked to environmental factors or inherited genes, new research suggests the remaining two-thirds may be caused by random mutations.

These mutations take place when stem cells divide, according to the study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Stem cells regenerate and replace cells that die off. If stem cells make random mistakes and mutate during this cell division, cancer can develop. The more of these mistakes that happen, the greater a person's risk that cells will grow out of control and develop into cancer, the study authors explained in a Hopkins news release.

Although unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking, are a contributing factor, the researchers concluded that the "bad luck" of random mutations plays a key role in the development of many forms of cancer.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

FDA drug approvals reached 18-year high in 2014
FDA drug approvals reached 18-year high in 2014
January 3, 2015

The Food and Drug Administration approved 41 first-of-a-kind drugs in 2014, including a record number of medicines for rare diseases, pushing the agency's annual tally of drug approvals to its highest level in 18 years.

FDA drug approvals are considered a barometer of industry innovation and the federal government's efficiency in reviewing new therapies. Last year's total was the most since the all-time high of 53 drugs approved in 1996.

The 2014 approval list includes 15 drugs for so-called orphan diseases, which are rare conditions and disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. Last year's tally, which included drugs for rare cancer and metabolic disorders, exceeded the 13 orphan drugs approved in 2012.

The record-setting number reflects the drug industry's ongoing shift toward specialty drugs for niche conditions, which often come with extra patent protections, streamlined approvals and higher price tags.

For example, last month the FDA granted accelerated approval to Amgen's Blincyto, a biotech therapy to treat a rare form of leukemia. Shortly thereafter, Amgen announced it would price the immune-system boosting cancer drug at $178,000 per year. Earlier in the year the agency approved Myalept for an ultra-rare metabolic disorder that affects roughly one in a million people in the U.S. The drug from Aegerion Pharmaceuticals costs about $325,000 per year.

While the uptick in innovative medicines is good news for patients, it is sure to reinvigorate debate over the price of new drugs as insurers and public payers increasingly push back against higher costs.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the chief lobbying group from insurers, spent much of the last year speaking out against the costs for innovative new drugs, for both orphan conditions and more common diseases. AHIP and other groups took particular issue with the price of Harvoni, a new hepatitis pill which costs $94,500 for a 12-week supply.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

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