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Cutting sitting hours might extend life by two years

Published by Guardian on Thu, 12 Jul 2012


BRIEFSRESTRICTING the amount of time spent seated every day to less than three hours might boost the life expectancy of U.S. adults by an extra two years, indicates an analysis of published research in the online journal BMJ Open.And cutting down TV viewing to less than two hours every day might extend life by almost 1.4 years, the findings suggest.Several previous studies have linked extended periods spent sitting down and/or watching TV to poor health, such as diabetes and death from heart disease/stroke. The researchers used data collected for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2005/6 and 2009/10, to calculate the amount of time U.S. adults spent watching TV and sitting down on a daily basis.NHANES regularly surveys a large representative sample of the U.S. population on various aspects of their health and lifestyle.They trawled the research database MEDLINE, looking for published studies on sitting time and deaths from all causes and pooled the different relative risk data from the five relevant studies, involving almost 167,000 adults. The database was then re-analysed, taking account of age and sex.They combined these data and the NHANES figures to come up with a population attributable fraction (PAF) - an estimate of the theoretical effects of a risk factor at a population, rather than an individual level - to calculate the number of deaths associated with time spent sitting down.The PAFs for deaths from all causes linked to sitting time and TV viewing were 27 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively.Over weight alone does not increase death risk, study findsAN evaluation of national data by University of Calofornia Davis, United States, researchers has found that extra weight is not necessarily linked with a higher risk of death.When compared to those with normal weight, people who were overweight or obese had no increased risk of death during a follow-up period of six years. People who were severely obese did have a higher risk, but only if they also had diabetes or hypertension.The findings, which appear in the July-August issue of The Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, call into question previous studies - using data collected when obesity was less common - linking higher short-term mortality with any amount of extra weight.'There is currently a widespread belief that any degree of overweight or obesity increases the risk of death, however our findings suggest this may not be the case,' said Anthony Jerant, professor of family and community medicine and lead author of the study. 'In the six-year timeframe of our evaluation, we found that only severe obesity was associated with an increased risk of death, due to co-occurring diabetes and hypertension.'Based on the study, Jerant recommends that doctors' conversations with patients who are overweight or obese, but not severely obese, focus on the known negative effects of these conditions on mental and physical functioning, rather than on an increased short-term risk of death.By contrast, Jerant added that it is important for doctors to talk with severely obese patients who also have diabetes or hypertension about their increased short-term mortality risk and treatment, including weight loss.Drug from Mediterranean weed kills tumour cells in miceSCIENTISTS at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre, working with Danish researchers, have developed a novel anticancer drug designed to travel - undetected by normal cells - through the bloodstream until activated by specific cancer proteins.The drug, made from a weed-like plant, has been shown to destroy cancers and their direct blood supplies, acting like a 'molecular grenade,' and sparing healthy blood vessels and tissues. In laboratory studies, researchers said they found that a three-day course of the drug, called G202, reduced the size of human prostate tumors grown in mice by an average of 50 per cent within 30 days. In a direct comparison, G202 outperformed the chemotherapy drug docetaxel, reducing seven of nine human prostate tumours in mice by more than 50 per cent in 21 days. Docetaxel reduced one of eight human prostate tumors in mice by more than 50 per cent in the same time period.In a report June 27 in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers also reported that G202 produced at least 50 per cent regression in models of human breast cancer, kidney cancer and bladder cancer.Based on these results, Johns Hopkins physicians have performed a phase I clinical trial to assess safety of the drug and have thus far treated 29 patients with advanced cancer. In addition to Johns Hopkins, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Texas-San Antonio are participating in the trial. A phase II trial to test the drug in patients with prostate cancer and liver cancer is planned.The drug G202 is chemically derived from a weed called Thapsia garganica that grows naturally in the Mediterranean region. The plant makes a product, dubbed thapsigargin that since the time of ancient Greece has been known to be toxic to animals. In Arab caravans, the plant was known as the 'death carrot' because it would kill camels if they ate it, the researchers noted.
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