Health Briefs

January 22, 2010

Good is better:  Higher levels of ‘good’ cholesterol linked to lower risk for cancer

A recent review of more than 20 clinical health studies uncovered an interesting link between cholesterol and cancer: People with higher levels of HDL cholesterol – the so-called ‘good’ cholesterol – had a lower risk of developing cancer.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, followed a review led by researchers at the U.S.-based Tufts Medical Center Molecular Cardiology Research Institute who analyzed 24 clinical studies focusing on the connection between cholesterol and heart disease. Results showed that a patient’s cancer risk declined by about one-third with every 10 mg/dl increase in HDL.

It’s important to note that the findings don’t prove a “cause and effect” between higher HDL levels and reduced cancer risk. HDL cholesterol is known to boost immune system function and has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which may help prevent cancer from developing. The researchers noted that their findings could serve as a catalyst for further studies exploring the connection between cholesterol and cancer. In the meantime, regular exercise and healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits remain the best way to keep HDL levels high.

Double Danger: Heart attack & stroke risk twice as high for diabetes patients

A new study offers yet another reminder of the serious, life-threatening health problems that come with diabetes: Patients with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer potentially deadly heart attacks and strokes, compared to people without diabetes.

The findings followed an extensive U.K.-based study led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, who analyzed the medical histories of nearly 700,000 adults culled from over 100 studies conducted in 25  countries.The results of the study were published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

The incidence of diabetes has grown to epidemic levels in the developed world; it’s estimated that diabetes is now responsible for 10 percent of all deaths from cardiovascular disease in industrialized countries. Unhealthy, high fat diets, sedentary lifestyles and an epidemic of obesity are behind the dramatic increase in diabetes cases in recent years, especially in developed countries.

The study’s sobering findings underscore the need for continued efforts focusing on diabetes prevention through a combination of better nutrition and exercise habits along with regular check-ups and health screenings.

Frequent doctor visits help lower blood pressure for diabetics

Diabetes patients who visit their doctor frequently saw their blood pressure return to normal much faster. That’s according to the results of a U.S. research study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.

Researchers came to that conclusion following a large-scale study of 5,000 patients with diabetes. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious condition among diabetics which can cause stroke, heart attacks and other potentially fatal medical problems.

Researchers analyzed changes in blood pressure with the frequency of primary care doctor visits over a period of five years. Results showed blood pressure returned to normal much more quickly – less than two months on average – among patients who saw their doctor at least once every month. It took more than a year for blood pressure to return to normal among patients whose doctor visits were more than a month apart.

While the exact reason for the difference isn’t clear, the study reinforces the important role that active, continuous management plays in keeping diabetes under control. High quality medical care and healthy lifestyle choices, including proper nutrition and regular exercise, are critical to lowering the many health risks that can result from diabetes. ENend.gif

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