Health Briefs

HEALTH BRIEFS

July 13, 2009

Lack of exercise can lead to diabetes

Skip exercise now, pay later - that's the warning from a study that found that younger people who didn't exercise were more likely to develop diabetes in 20 years than those who stayed fit. Researchers examined data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, a longitudinal study of 5,115 adults initially ages 18 to 30 that looked at lifestyle and how cardiovascular disease risk factors changed over time. The participants were given a treadmill test at the beginning of the study, then at year seven and 20. They were also tested for diabetes. Body mass index was the strongest predictor of developing diabetes. And despite the fact that black men and white men started off on a fairly even BMI level at the beginning of the study, BMI was a bigger predictor of developing diabetes for black men. Researchers also found that the less fit people were, the higher the incidence of diabetes. Via a news release, lead author Mercedes Carnethon, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, said: "The overwhelming importance of a high BMI to the development of diabetes was somewhat unexpected, and leads us to think that activity levels need to be adequate not only to raise aerobic fitness, but also to maintain a healthy body weight." The study appears in the July issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

- Los Angeles Times

Fun in the sand? Stomach problems may follow

Reckless sand play, scientists have found, puts people at risk for subsequent stomach cramping and diarrhea courtesy of fecal bacteria on the shore. Safer to walk along the beach or (gulp) go in the water. In a survey of 27,000 visitors to ocean and freshwater beaches, 13 percent of those who said they had dug in sand during a visit to a beach reported gastrointestinal problems when interviewed 10 to 12 days later. As for those who allowed themselves to be buried in sand, their rate was even higher: 23 percent. The study, by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Environmental Protection Agency, was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

- Los Angeles Times

Supplement may ease obsessive hair-pulling

Most everyone plays mindlessly with their hair from time to time. But for some people it becomes such an uncontrollable compulsion that they end up with bald patches or eyebrows plucked bare. A University of Minnesota researcher might have found an answer in a common, over-the-counter nutritional supplement that costs about $15 for 100 pills. Better yet, his breakthrough could hold promise for a whole range of common obsessive behaviors, from nail-biting to hand-washing. Dr. Jon Grant, a psychiatrist who specializes in addictive and compulsive behaviors, found that an antioxidant called N-acetylcysteine (NAC) helped about half of the hair-pullers in his study. Some engaged the behavior less often, and some quit altogether. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, is important because it shows for the first time that reducing a certain chemical in the brain also eases an uncontrollable behavioral obsession.

- McClatchy-Tribune

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