IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  May 1, 2004

Latest info on cancer prevention

Eat right and don't smoke -- that's still the best advice for avoiding cancer, but researchers have added another component: Lose weight, stay lean.

Maintaining the proper weight ranks second only to avoiding tobacco as the most effective way you can improve your cancer odds.

Doctors at Harvard Medical School say there is good evidence that being overweight or obese is related to a higher risk for cancers of the colon, uterus, kidney, breast, and esophagus. Being overweight can also lead to diabetes, which increases the risk for cancer of the colon and pancreas.

Staying trim, or getting trim requires a balance of calories and exercise. Here are some ways to do it.

  • Be aware that low fat and nonfat are not the same as low calorie. Added sugar can increase calories.
  • Be careful when eating out and ordering in. Portions tend to be very large.
  • Substitute fruit and vegetables for foods like French fries, doughnuts, and ice cream. Get in motion, move more

    Exercise and activity in general help to maintain proper body weight. Vigorous activity can decrease the exposure of breast tissue to estrogen. It can affect cancers of the colon and other sites by reducing insulin and related proteins that increase cell turnover. The more cell turnover, the greater the risk of genetic mistakes that could lead to cancer.

    Exercise doesn't have to be running or lifting weights, although strength building is important. You can walk, dance, golf, mow the lawn, swim, or dig in the garden. Decide what you like and do more of it.

    Research into the causes and prevention of cancer continues. In the meantime, it's a matter of improving your odds. Right now, the best advice researchers give is that your odds are better if you stay lean and active, avoid calorie dense foods, and eat fruits and vegetables instead.


    Mild exercise lowers BP

    People with blood pressure readings from 140/90 to 179/109 can reduce their blood pressure with as little as 30 minutes of easy exercise per week. A study in the American Journal of Hypertension shows that patients who walked, swam, did situps, and stretching for 30 to 60 minutes a week significantly reduced their blood pressure. Exercising 60 to 90 minutes a week lowered blood pressure even more.

    Doctors say additional exercise is good for many other reasons, but more than 90 minutes a week of low-key exercise had no further effect on blood pressure.

    Unfit young people

    People who are out of shape in their 20s run a high risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes later in life. Studies in preventive medicine at Northwestern University gave 4,400 people treadmill tests at age 18 to 30 and again 15 years later. Those who did poorly on the first test faced double the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome when compared to highly fit participants.

    Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that includes high blood sugar, poor cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and belly fat. Some study participants took a second test seven years after the first. Those who became more fit in the intervening years greatly reduced their disease risk.

    Vitamin C for your heart

    A large study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that people who consume 500 mg of vitamin C per day are less likely to die from heart disease or have a heart attack than those who get much less.

    The study also shows that the benefit came predominantly from supplements and multivitamins, possibly because the amounts taken are easy to calculate.


    Easy treatments for mosquito bites

    It happens every year as certain as the spring. Mosquitoes appear, and you get a pesky bite that itches like mad. No drugstore remedies on hand? Try these by Rodale's Home Remedies of Pennsylvania.

  • Onion juice. Breaks down chemicals that cause pain response.
  • Liquid soap. Can neutralize toxins in the bite. Dab it on and leave it.
  • Alcohol. This solvent helps to remove toxins from the bite and inhibits proteins that cause irritation.
  • Aspirin. Controls inflammation. Rub it on the bite (unless you are allergic to it).
  • Vicks VapoRub. Rub a little on and around the bite. It contains menthol, which deadens nerve endings.

    When you'll be outdoors, wear a repellant containing 35 percent DEET for adults, 10 percent for kids. Apply it a half hour before or after applying sunscreen, say experts at the University of Manitoba in Canada, so the sunscreen doesn't increase your absorption of DEET.


  • Reducing risk of Alzheimer's disease

    What's good for your heart is good for your brain

    Warm weather is making people want to eat right, lose weight, and get some exercise. That will make them look better in a bathing suit, but it will also help their hearts. What's more, new studies show that these steps will reduce their risk of getting Alzheimer's disease in later life.

    The vascular hypothesis, as the idea is known, got its start in the 1980s at the medical examiner's office in Lexington, Ky. Doctors examined the brains of people who died in a variety of accidents, though none showed signs of dementia. They found that the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that characterize the brains of Alzheimer's patients were common in the brains of people with heart disease.

    In 1993, a study at Goteborg University in Sweden showed a correlation between high blood pressure at age 70 and the development of Alzheimer's 15 years later. In 2000, the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study reported that men with diastolic blood pressure over 90 ran a five times greater risk of dementia 20 to 25 years later.

    More recent studies show that smoking doubled or tripled Alzheimer's risk. Other risks were obesity, high cholesterol, and high levels of homocysteine in the blood.


    Atkins diet updated

    After years of recommending dieters eat liberal amounts of steak, eggs, and saturated fats, promoters of the Atkins diet now say only 20 percent of dieters' calories should come from saturated fat. The revision places more emphasis on fish and chicken.

    The Atkins remains a high-fat diet. But Atkins officials are increasing the amount of fat that should be unsaturated, the kind that comes from vegetable oils and fish, rather than the kind of fat that comes from meat, cheese, and butter.

    The director of Atkins Nutritionals also clarifies the phrase in diet literature that says "foods you may eat liberally." It does not mean "eat until you are full." Eat until you are satisfied.

    Bad posture causes pains

    From migraine headache and neck pain to lower back, knee, and foot problems, doctors say many medical complaints are posture-related. Poor posture when sitting, standing, or walking causes tiny structural changes and shifts throughout the body that can have painful consequences. The person begins to push the shoulders, neck, and head forward, tilt the pelvis, and shift the spine. This puts added pressure on muscles and joints.

    The director of Manhattan Spine & Sports Medicine says people who work at a computer should take five-second breaks, stand up, stretch, and take a few deep breaths. Yoga and Pilates-based exercises that emphasize stretching and strengthening muscles can improve posture problems.

    Positive thinking prevents a cold?

    Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say a positive outlook can short-circuit the virus responsible for the common cold. They squirted the cold virus into the noses of happy people and grumpy ones. Those with sunny dispositions were much less likely to get sick.


    When to fix a hernia; when to wait

    Hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S. But if a person is not very active and the hernia has been present for a long time, it could stay as it is and not cause any problems.

    Many things can cause a hernia, which is a break in the abdominal wall with a segment of the abdomen pushing through it. It usually occurs in the lower abdomen where weak spots develop with age. Lifting can cause it, but so can a bad cough, hard sneezing, or straining during a bowel movement.

    People first notice it in the shower or bath when they find a soft lump which disappears when they lie down. In other cases, people feel a dull ache or sensation of heaviness in their groin.

    There is no rule about who should or shouldn't have surgery to repair a hernia. If it is very large, surgery is recommended. New laparoscopic surgery requires three small incisions and is done under general anesthesia. Recovery time is shorter, but the procedure is expensive. Conventional repair involves an incision that is several inches long but can be done with local anesthesia.

    In either procedure, a piece of plastic mesh is placed inside the patient to close the hernia.


    Antidepressants may reduce heart-disease risk

    New studies show that antidepressants such as Zoloft reduce the risk of a second heart attack. It has long been known that people who have heart attacks may become depressed during their recovery. Zoloft, along with other antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil, appear to play a roll in discouraging the formation of blood clots that could cause additional problems.

    Another significant discovery: A later study published in Circulation shows that people taking Zoloft, Prozac, or Paxil were actually less likely than other people to have a first heart attack. Study authors say more research is needed, but they recommend that heart attack patients take antidepressants whether or not they are depressed.



    Contradictory phrases: 'The squeaky wheel gets the oil' and 'She who cackles loudest is the first to lose her head.'
    - Unknown

    Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.
    - Henry David Thoreau

    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
    - Eleanor Roosevelt

    Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.
    - Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

    The Purpose of goverment is to protect us from each other not from ourselves.
    - Chuck Krautblatt

    Pilot Instructions: If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again.


    Origin: Marathon

    Marathon comes from the story how a 5th century messenger named Pheidippides ran the 26 miles from the city of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over the Persians and died on the spot. See Marathon.

    Q & A

    Q: In weight training, what is the physiological reasoning behind the breathing out while you are lifting and vice versa during lowering? Thanks

    A: Good question. Here's a website that explains the reason Breathing. Breathing out requires muscles to contract; while breathing in conversely requires muscle to relax. It therefore makes sense to synchronize muscle contraction.

    Q: How long should one remain at the beginner level before advancing to the next level. We are just starting out on an excercise bike. What would you suggest for time on the bike. We are 62 + 63 yrs. of age

    A: It's is different for everyone depending on your current fitness level. The best way to determine the time required for advancing to the next level is by how you feel. If it is still a challenge, then continue at the current level. When it gets too easy and non-challenging, then it time to up the level.

    That's a good decision; keep up the great work. Incidentally, many studies have confirmed that even men in their 90's are capable of developing muscle when participating in an exercise program.

    Q: How long would it take for a fourteen year old to learn to do the splits with proper stretches?

    A: It depends on the individual's current flexibility, muscle structure and persistence. We have a special section under Online Books on the website to address this. Go to Stretching. Then click on Performing Splits on the left panel under the Stretching Techniques category.

    Q: I am looking for cover in the UK. Can you be of assistance?

    A: Give a ring to Sports Cover Direct. They can provide amateur cover, Bristol 0845-120-6400 (UK)

    Q: If I walk fast for a period of time, my legs start to itch really badly. I was wondering if you knew why this happens and what I can do to stop it? Thanks.

    A: It could be an allergy to a certain food that manifests itself during the increased metabolic activity of exercise, which is not uncommon. Ask your doctor, he may be able to provide some help through testing.

    Q: What are the nutritional requirements for a 2000 calorie diet. I need to calculate the percentage daily value based on this diet.

    A: USDA recommends

  • 60% carbohydrates
  • 30% protein
  • 10% fat

    Therefore, 60% of 2000 calories would be 1200 calories. The others can be determined in the same manner.

    Q: What should be the distance between the feet when lifting weights. Thank you

    A: When doing any type of lifting, your feet should be shoulder width apart.

    Q: Some of the test questions seemed somewhat more complex as compared to the information provided in the training manual. Are these meant to be trick questions?

    A: Open book test are not as easy as some people expect. Exact wording between the book and the test is not indicative of a basic understanding of the content. It merely proves that a person can match the correct words. We want to make sure that you understand the context of the courese and not simply learn the correct words.

    Q: Someone told me not to mix my proteins and carbs with my meals is this true? And why, if so?

    A: It is not true. Many people have strange gimmicks and ideas about what is right for the body. They can even substantiate their facts. The bottom line is if it was not good for the body, you would know. Try eating or drinking a large quantity of sugar on an empty stomach and you'll feel pain as the sugars become indigestible in the intestines.

    Don't chase the fads, they will just keep you running or give them to you.