Is it healthier to be fit and fat—Or lazy and thin?
Are you a thin couch potato? Think that because you're slim, you don't have to work out? Wrong. A new study shows that you have a better shot of living longer if you're plump but fit rather than if you're normal weight (or a twig) but don't exercise. Researcher Xuemei Sui of the University of South Carolina in Columbia and colleagues tracked 2,603 adults age 60 and over (average age 64.4; 19.4 percent women) to determine how physical fitness and body fat affected their death rates over 12 years. They assessed fitness based on a treadmill exercise test and corpulence by a combo of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and percentage of body fat. Those in the lowest fifth in terms of fitness (patients who fared poorly on the treadmill) had a death rate four times higher than participants ranked in the top fifth for fitness. "We observed that fit individuals who were obese had a lower risk of all-cause mortality than did unfit normal weight or lean, individuals," the authors report in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association. "It may be possible to reduce all-cause death rates among older adults, including those who are obese, by promoting regular physical activity, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week, which will keep most individuals out of the low-fitness category. Enhancing functional capacity also should allow older adults to achieve a healthy lifestyle and to enjoy longer life in better health." But lest you think that's an invitation to pile on the pounds—it's not. Both obesity and lack of exercise have been linked to higher death rates in middle-aged adults. Remember: obesity can up the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke. The best bet, experts say: Eat right and exercise. [http://www.jama.com]
Cell phones may up tumor risk
Is your cell phone practically glued to your ear? Beware: New research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology says that regular mobile phone use may increase your risk of developing tumors. AFP reports that Israeli researchers found that frequent cell phone users—described as people who chatter on mobiles more than 22 hours a month—had a nearly 50 percent higher risk than others of developing a tumor on the parotid gland (the largest of the salivary glands on the side of the face just in front of the ear). The risk was even greater, AFP reports, if users always held the phone to the same ear, did not use hands-free devices or were in rural areas. The study included 402 benign and 58 malignant incident cases of parotid gland tumors diagnosed in Israel in patients 18 years of age or older from 2001 to 2003. "Analysis restricted to regular users or to conditions that may yield higher levels of exposure (like heavy use in rural areas) showed consistently elevated risks," said an abstract of the article obtained by AFP. (Agence France-Presse)
New study: Caffeine cream tones thighs
Ladies, listen up. A new study says that women who smoothed a salve containing a 7 percent caffeine solution on their thighs and hips twice a day for a month saw a slimming effect. Brazilian researchers from Federal University report in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology that more than 80 percent of the 99 study subjects had a reduction in the circumference of their upper and lower thighs after slathering on the cream; nearly 68 percent also reduced their hip measurements. Alas, it did not smooth out the ever-stubborn dimples of cellulite, the researchers said, noting that exercise is still the best route to toned thighs. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Have a cough? Take some honey
Looks like your grandmother was right: If your child has a cough, try some honey to calm the hacking. A new study shows that a dollop of buckwheat honey at bedtime provided more relief than over-the-counter remedies or no treatment at all. Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine report in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine that honey reduced the severity and frequency of nighttime coughs from upper respiratory infections better than dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many OTC cold meds. The news is particularly heartening to parents in the wake of recent recommendations by a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel that children younger than six years old should not be given elixirs containing DM, because of their lack of effectiveness and potential side effects. Honey—which has well established antioxidant and antimicrobal effects—has been used for centuries in some cultures to treat cold symptoms and wounds, and is considered to be safe for children over 12 months old. In the new research, researchers studied 105 kids between the ages of two and 18. On the first night, the children received no treatment; on the second, they were given either honey, artificial honey–flavored DM or no treatment at all about 30 minutes before hitting the sack. The results: honey won hands-down across the board for relief of symptoms and helping kids get a good night's rest. "Additional studies should certainly be considered, but we hope that medical professionals will consider the positive potential of honey as a treatment given the lack of proven efficacy, expense and potential for adverse effects associated with the use of DM," said lead study author Ian Paul, a pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics. (Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine) [http://www.archpediatrics.com]