SportsGeezer’s Best-Read Stories of 2010
1. Men: Regular Sex Cuts Heart Risks in Half
2. Ten Risk Factors That Cause 9 Out of 10 Strokes
OK, the risks per se are not going to surprise many readers, but the realization that nine out of ten strokes may be avoidable may persuade a few readers to change their behavior. The Lancet publishes the findings of a study conducted by INTERSTROKE, which concluded that ten easily measurable and modifiable risk factors could explain over 90 per cent of the risk of a heart attack globally and in all regions and major ethnic groups of the world. And the winning risks are: history of hypertension, smoking, waist to hip ratio, diet, lack of exercise, diabetes, alcohol, stress, depression, and a history of heart problems.
3. Five Tips to Avoid Hip or Knee Replacement
For readers who need them, here, from the New York Times, are two reasons you don’t want to have hips or knees replaced: 1. It’s expensive. The cost of a new hip or knee is $30,000 to $40,000, and while insurance covers most of that, your out-of-pocket costs may be $3,000 to $4,000. 2. It hurts.
In this piece in the Times, Dr. David Felson, a rheumatologist and arthritis prevention specialist at Boston University School of Medicine, offers five tips to saving the hips and knees you were born with.
1.CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT The more you weigh, the more pressure on your joints, which can lead to joint damage.
2.GO LOW-IMPACT Although there is no definitive link between osteoarthritis of the knee and running (or any other sport), sports medicine doctors discourage their patients from running on hard pavement, playing tennis on concrete or activities like skiing over lots of moguls.
3.AVOID INJURY Major injuries, typically the type that require surgery, greatly increase your risk for osteoarthritis.
4.GET FIT The better toned your muscles are, the less likely you are to injure yourself .
5.BE SKEPTICAL Don’t waste your money on specialized nutrients. Shark cartilage, glucosamine and chondroitin — popular supplements marketed for healthy joints — can be expensive and are of limited benefit.
Read more in the New York Times.
4. Finally: How Vitamin D Works
For years, scientists have been asking two big questions about vitamin D: Is there anything it isn’t good for? and How does it work? Now, it seems, one of those questions has been answered, kind of. The Scientific American reports that researchers at the University of Copenhagen have learned that in order for T cells to do their magic in the immune system, they must change from so-called “naive” T cells into either killer cells or helper cells. It turns out, the Danish scientists learned, that if vitamin D is in short supply, that transition doesn’t happen. Why would the body make it hard to jump start its immune system? Sciam reports that while the vitamin requirement might seem like a handicap, the extra step might actually be a live saver: keeping T cells from ravaging healthy tissue.
5. Why Exercise Will Not Take the Pounds Off, And What Will
Exercise alone, the New York Times quotes one health expert saying, “is pretty useless for weight loss.” One reason for that is the likelihood that people who exercise will end up eating more calories. The mathematics of weight loss, the Times tells us, is quite simple, involving only subtraction. Take in fewer calories than you burn, put yourself in negative energy balance, and you will lose weight. The deficit in calories can result from cutting back your food intake or from increasing your energy output — the amount of exercise you complete — or both.
6. Rye Bread More Healthful Than Whole Wheat
In addition to tasting better (or tasting like anything at all) than whole wheat bread, rye bread is better for you. That news comes from Lund University in Sweden, where researchers measured insulin and blood sugar levels in people who ate rye bread and porridge for breakfast and in those who ate porridge and bread made with wheat. The big difference? Those who ate rye had a much more “stable blood sugar curve.” AlphaGalileo reports that the researchers also found that people who ate boiled rye kernels for breakfast were fuller and ate 16 percent fewer calories for lunch.
7. 10 Worst Fast Foods, from Men’s Health
Men’s Health, a veritable monthly book of lists, entertains us with its annual presentation of the 10 worst fast foods that fast money can buy, as well as a more healthful alternative for each listing. Presented in no particular order, the list includes:
8. For Heart Health, Try Orgasms First, Chocolate Second
Instead of doing the Chocolate is Good For Your Heart thing that seems irresistible to health writers at this time of year, Geezer chooses to point out the health benefits of something that is more fun, and yes, less expensive:orgasms. The Los Angeles Times has two things to say about that. First there is some evidence that DHEA, a hormone released into the bloodstream during arousal and orgasm, helps keeps arteries clear and hearts strong, and second, a 10-year study of Welsh men found that those who had two or more orgasms per week had half the risk of dying compared with their less sexually active neighbors.
9. Fish Oil Slows Aging
Loyal readers no doubt recall that telomeres, the strings of repeating DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes, are a surpringly reliable measure of aging. The shorter your telomeres, Geezer regrets to inform you, the sooner you will die. Hence, it makes good sense to find a way to keep telomeres long, and as it happens, scientists at the University of San Francisco have done just that. Science News
reports that researchers there recorded telomere length in white blood cells of 608 people with heart disease and an average age in their mid-60s. The researchers also noted how much omega-3 fatty acid was in the bloodstream of each participant. Science News reports that although some people had higher omega-3 levels than others at the outset, telomere length wasn’t markedly different, but after five years, those who started out with higher levels of omega-3s had substantially less telomere shortening than the others. Skeptical? Read an abstract from the study in JAMA.
10. Blood Pressure Drugs May Be Best Taken at Night
When it comes to taking blood pressure meds, it may be better to be night person than a morning person. HealthDay reports that researchers at the bioengineering and chronobiology laboratories at the University of Vigo, Spain randomly assigned 2,156 men and women with high blood pressure (average age 56) to one of two treatment groups. One group took their blood-pressure medications at bedtime, and the other took it in the morning. The researchers monitored the volunteers’ blood pressure at 20- and 30-minute intervals, depending on time of day, for 48 hours at least once a year for five years. They found that, of those who took at least one of their blood-pressure pills at night, 62 percent had controlled blood pressure over the 24-hour period, compared to 53 percent of those who took all their pills in the morning. Wait, there’s more: Those who routinely took at least one of their blood-pressure medicines at night experienced only one-third of the cardiovascular events — including angina, stroke and heart attack — as the morning people.