Activity levels affected by perceived health

Recent study results have shown that people who perceive themselves to be in poor health walk less than people who perceive themselves as fit and healthy.

James Talkowski and colleagues studied 2,269 seniors with an average age of 79.2 years to investigate whether perception of health and balance had any impact on activity levels. Results showed that participants who perceived their overall health and balance to be good walked further each week than participants who thought either their health or balance was good and the other was poor. Participants who perceived both their health and their balance to be poor walked the least.

“What was surprising to us was learning that health and balance perception were significantly related to walking activity – more so than fall history or balance performance,” said Talkowski in a news release issued by the American physical therapy association.

Source: Activity levels affected by perceived health.

Muscle mass important for cancer sufferers

Body composition appears to be of key importance when it comes to surviving cancer, as researchers have found that cancer patients with more lean muscle mass live longer.

The study of 250 obese cancer patients revealed that patients with depleted muscle mass – a recently recognized condition known as sarcopenic obesity – lived, on average, for 10 months less than obese patients with more muscle mass. Participants with sarcopenic obesity were also more likely to be bedridden. Study leader Professor Vickie Baracos says muscle mass could even effect how patients respond to chemotherapy.

The authors concluded: “This study provides evidence of the great variability of body composition in patients with cancer and links body composition, especially sarcopenic obesity, to clinical implications such as functional status, survival, and potentially, chemotherapy toxicity.”

Source: Muscle mass important for cancer sufferers.

Cough medicine ingredient fights prostate cancer

Research suggests that an ingredient used in cough medicines for more than half a century may be an effective treatment for prostate cancer.

Dr Israel Barken, Moshe Rogosnitzky, and Dr Jack Geller tested the cough suppressant noscapine, a non-addictive derivative of opium, on mouse models of prostate cancer. Results showed that noscapine reduced tumor growth by 60% and limited the spread of tumors by 65%, all without causing harmful side effects.

This is not the first time that noscapine has been studied as a treatment for cancer. It has previously been studied as a treatment for breast, ovarian, colon, lung, and brain cancers, and for various lymphomas, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and melanoma. However, because noscapine is a naturally-occurring substance it is non-patentable and thus finding financial backing for clinical trials has proven difficult.

Mosche Rogonsnitzky, of MedInsight Research Institute, a nonprofit organization committed to making doctors aware of commercially unsponsored medications, off-label (secondary) uses for approved medicines, long-lost therapies, and specialized tests that enable treatment to be tailored to the individual, said of the discovery: “Noscapine is effective without the unpleasant side effects associated with other common prostate cancer treatments. Because noscapine has been used as a cough-suppressant for nearly half a century, it already has an extensive safety record. This pre-clinical study shows that the dose used to effectively treat prostate cancer in the animal model was also safe.”

Source: Cough medicine ingeredient fights prostate cancer.

Inflammatory markers aid prediction of stroke risk

New research has shown that two common markers of inflammation can help to predict people who are at risk of ischemic stroke.

Dr Vijay Nambi, a cardiologist at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and Baylor College of Medicine, and colleagues found that adding the inflammatory biomarkers lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) to the traditional risk assessment tools for stroke risk helped to improve the accuracy of stroke prediction.

Study results showed that 39% of study participants classed as having an intermediate-risk of stroke had to be reclassified into higher or lower risk groups after the researchers took Lp-PLA2 and CRP into account. As the researchers expected, very few (just 4%) of low-risk participants were reclassified after taking the biomarkers into account, and none were reclassified as high-risk.

“If we can identify increased risk for stroke, we can recommend exercise, smoking cessation, and cholesterol and blood pressure medication to reduce a person’s risk for stroke by more than 30 percent,” said Dr. Nambi, in a news release. “Adding these two biomarkers to traditional risk assessment tools improves our ability to do that.”

Source: Inflammatory markers aid prediction of stroke risk.

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