Healthy Helpings: January 2016

By AFM Staff – January 1, 2016

The Journal of the American Medical Association published new findings that fewer early-stage cases of prostate cancer are being detected. However, that’s not necessarily something to celebrate. Fewer cases are being caught early because there has been less effort to find it. According to the American Cancer Society, about 220,800 new cases solely in prostate cancer are expected to round out 2015, along with 27,540 deaths from it—which is why screenings are highly encouraged. The decrease is likely related to a recommendation made by the United States Preventative Task Force back in 2012, in which the experts on this panel said that the risks outweighed the benefits of routine blood tests for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) a protein associated with prostate cancer. Doctors used to screen all men over 50 with PSA tests and operated on all cancers. But now they may be heading toward the other extreme of not screening anybody. Here’s hoping oncologists find a solution to achieving the happy medium.

There have been countless studies showing correlation between physical health and mental acuity, but a recent study conducted by researchers at King’s College London dug deeper to find out if there was a more specific link. Head researcher, Dr. Claire Steves, approached this analysis by examining the health and fitness data of British twins availably on the TwinUK registry. They looked at 162 healthy, middle-aged, female twin pairs, some of whom were identical and some not. The scientists chose twins who had completed a fitness assessment 10 years prior and retested the subjects to see what changes had taken place regarding physical and mental abilities. They found that those who had the sturdiest legs a decade ago had the least amount of decline in thinking skills. In fact, on average, the muscularly powerful twin showed improvement in memory and cognitive tests. Brain scans also revealed that the stronger of the two displayed significantly more brain volume.

Sleeping in on the weekends may feel great, but a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism says that it could cause negative health effects. Researchers examined 447 men and women 30 to 54 for the study, using devices on all of them to track when the participants fell asleep, woke up, and measured movement. Almost 85 percent of the group slept in later on the weekends. The researchers discovered a link between those who woke later and higher metabolic risk. Additionally, they noticed that those who were inconsistent with waking times showed numbers indicating lower HDL (good) cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher insulin resistance and higher body mass index. The associations even persisted after controlling for physical activity, caloric intake, alcohol use and other factors. The long term effects of this kind of routine is still being studied.

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