Personal Health: News and Notes

Posted: March 19, 2012

The more red meat you eat, the greater your disease risk

Eating red meat is associated with a sharply increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease, according to a new study, and the more of it you eat, the greater the risk.

The analysis, published online in Archives of Internal Medicine, used data from two studies that involved 121,342 men and women who filled out questionnaires about health and diet from 1980 through 2006.

People who ate more red meat were less physically active and more likely to smoke and had a higher body mass index, researchers found. Still, after controlling for those and other variables, they found that each daily increase of three ounces of red meat was associated with a 12 percent greater risk of dying overall, including a 16 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death and a 10 percent greater risk of cancer death.

The increased risks linked to processed meat, like bacon, were even greater: 20 percent overall, 21 percent for cardiovascular disease and 16 percent for cancer.

Previous studies have linked red meat consumption and mortality, but the new results suggest a surprisingly strong link.

- New York Times

Academically, youngsters do better after physical activity

Promoting physical activity among young schoolchildren can improve their academic performance, a new study suggests.

Italian researchers tracked 138 children ages 8 through 11 who took mental acuity tests under a series of conditions that sometimes involved physical activity and sometimes did not.

All the tests were structured to gauge concentration skills as well as the speed with which the children responded and the quality of their answers.

The children performed best after either physical activity or academic activity, but less well when both were combined before testing.

Lead author said, "While more research is needed, we believe this provides helpful justification for increasing physical activity opportunities in the academic setting."

The findings appear in the March issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

- HealthDay News

Circumcision may cut risk of prostate cancer, study finds

A new analysis has found evidence that circumcision may reduce the risk for prostate cancer.

Researchers studied 1,754 men with prostate cancer and 1,654 controls in King County, Wash. The study, published last week in the journal Cancer, controlled for age, race, a family history of prostate cancer and other factors. The scientists found that circumcision before first sexual intercourse was associated with a 15 percent lower risk for prostate cancer.

There is evidence that germs play a role in the development of several cancers - cervical, liver, and stomach cancer among them. And there is good evidence that circumcision can reduce rates of sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted germs have been found in the prostate.

Although the exact mechanism remains unknown, the authors suggest that circumcision eliminates the possibility of germs flourishing in the moist environment under the foreskin, and reduces the chance for infection - New York Times

Annual screening unnecessary for cervical cancer, experts say

Two influential groups of medical experts say that having cervical cancer screening once a year is not necessary and, in fact, should be discouraged.

By having both a Pap smear and an HPV test - known as co-testing - women ages 30 to 65 can safely go five years between screenings if the results are negative, said Michael LeFevre, co-vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The American Cancer Society joined in issuing the new guidelines.

This is the first time that co-testing has been formally recommended as an alternative to Pap smears alone, although some doctors have been offering the tests in tandem for some time.

More than 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and about 4,000 women die from the disease, largely because they didn't get screened and their cancers were caught too late.

- Los Angeles Times

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