Not Clear That Physical Activity Programs Reduce Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Exercise” by Diabetes Education Events is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Michelle Brasure, MSPH, PhD, MLIS
Evidence-based Practice Center
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We conducted a large systematic review to assess the evidence relating to interventions to prevent cognitive decline and dementia. We included experimental studies with follow up times of at least six months. This paper analyzes the physical activity interventions; other papers in this issue address other types of interventions.

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More Evidence That Higher Education May Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Larsson

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD
Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet,
Institute of Environmental Medicine,
Stockholm, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are largely unknown and there are currently no medical treatments that can halt or reverse its effects. This has led to growing interest in identifying risk factors for Alzheimer’s that are amenable to modification. Several observational studies have found that education and various lifestyle and vascular risk factors are associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but whether these factors actually cause Alzheimer’s is unclear.

We used a genetic epidemiologic method known as ‘Mendelian randomization’. This method involves the use of genes with an impact on the modifiable risk factor – for example, genes linked to education or intelligence – and assessing whether these genes are also associated with the disease. If a gene with an impact on the modifiable risk factor is also associated with the disease, then this provides strong evidence that the risk factor is a cause of the disease.

MedicalResearch.com:  What are the main findings?

Response: Our results, based on aggregated genetic data from 17 000 Alzheimer’s disease patients and 37 000 healthy controls, revealed that genetic variants that predict higher education were clearly associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A possible explanation for this link is ‘cognitive reserve’, which refers to the ability to recruit and use alternative brain networks or structures not normally used to compensate for brain ageing. Previous research has shown that high education increases this reserve.

We found suggestive evidence for possible associations of intelligence, circulating vitamin D, coffee consumption, and smoking with risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There was no evidence for a causal link with other modifiable factors, such as vascular risk factors.

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Lifestyle Modifications Slow Progression To Diabetes As Effectively As Medications

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Karla Galaviz PhD
Hubert Department of Global Health
Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University
Sonya Haw, MD| Assistant Professor
Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Lipids
Emory University, School of Medicine
Grady Memorial Hospital
Atlanta, GA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • Diabetes affects 1 in 11 adults worldwide and though there is evidence that lifestyle modification (eating healthier diets and exercising about 150 mins a week) and certain medications can prevent or delay diabetes onset, it is not clear which of these strategies offers long-term benefits.
  • To answer this question, we compiled all available randomized controlled trials of lifestyle programs and medications to prevent diabetes and analyzed the data to see if the diabetes prevention effects persisted in the long-term. We specifically compared studies where the lifestyle or drug interventions were discontinued to see if the effect was long lasting or diminished when the intervention was stopped.

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Wearable Device Study Confirms Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity Linked To Decreased Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

I-Min Lee, MD, ScD Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA 02215

Dr. Lee

I-Min Lee, MD, ScD
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Boston, MA 02215

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The fact that physical activity lowers the risk of premature mortality is not a new fact – we have many studies showing this.  However, previous studies have primarily relied on self-reported physical activity, and self-reports tend to be imprecise.  Based on these self-report studies, we know that physical activity is associated with a 20-30% reduction in mortality rates.  And, these self-report studies also have focused on moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, since they are more reliably reported than lighter intensity activity.  We have little information on whether light-intensity activities (e.g., light household chores, very slow walking such as when strolling and window shopping) are associated with lower mortality rates.

We now have “wearables” – devices that can more precisely measure physical activity at low (as well as higher) intensities, and sedentary behavior.  The present study, conducted between 2011 and 2015, investigated a large cohort of older women (n=16,741; mean age, 72 years)  who were asked to wear these devices for a week – thus, providing detailed physical activity and sedentary behavior measures.  During an average follow-up of about two-and-a-half years, 207 women died.  The study confirmed that physical activity is related to lower mortality rates.

What is new and important is how strong this association is when we have more precise measures of physical activity – the most active women had a 60-70% reduction in mortality rates, compared with the least active, during the study.  For context, non-smokers have about a 50% risk reduction, compared to smokers, which is why patients (and doctors) should pay attention to being physically active.

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Inactivity Plus Frailty Predict Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Olga Theou, MSc PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University Affiliated Scientist, Geriatric Medicine, Nova Scotia Health Authority Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Adelaide Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dr. Theou

Olga Theou, MSc PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University
Affiliated Scientist, Geriatric Medicine, Nova Scotia Health Authority
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Adelaide
Halifax, Nova Scotia 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We already know that moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, such as time accumulated during exercise, is associated with numerous health benefits. More recent studies also have shown that sedentary time, such as time accumulated during prolonged sitting at work, transportation, and leisure, can also increase the risk of adverse outcomes. What was not known was whether prolonged sitting affects people across different levels of frailty similarly. This is what we examined in our study.

We found that there were differences. Low frailty levels (people who are extremely healthy; frailty index score < 0.1) seemed to eliminate the increased risk of mortality associated with prolonged sitting, even among people who did not meet recommended physical activity guidelines. Among people with higher frailty levels, sedentary time was associated with mortality but only among those who did not meet recommended physical activity guidelines

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2017’s Fattest Cities in America

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jill Gonzalez WalletHub Analyst

Jill Gonzalez

Jill Gonzalez
WalletHub Analyst

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We based our research on recent findings that suggest that 70 percent of the adult U.S. population is overweight or obese. With that in mind, we wanted to find which metro areas offer the best environments for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Based on the report’s methodology, we concluded that areas in the south tend to have higher overweight and obese rates, as some fail to offer residents healthy environments and amenities that would facilitate a more active lifestyle. Please find the report’s main findings here: https://wallethub.com/edu/fattest-cities-in-america/10532/#main-findings.

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Health Lifestyle Could Cut Cardiovascular Disease 50% in Chinese

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lu Qi, MD, PhD, FAHA HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and Professor Director, Tulane University Obesity Research Center Department of Epidemiology Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine New Orleans, LA 70112

Dr. Lu Qi

Lu Qi, MD, PhD, FAHA
HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and Professor
Director, Tulane University Obesity Research Center
Department of Epidemiology
Tulane University
School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
New Orleans, LA 70112 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Adherence to healthy lifestyle (high physical activity, less smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, healthy diet, and low adiposity) has been related to substantially reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases in large cohorts from the US and Europe, however, similar evidence in Asians such as Chinese is lacking.

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Lifestyle Modifications May Improve Health and Prognosis in Breast Cancer Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ellen Warner, MD, FRCPC, FACP, M.Sc.
Affiliate scientist
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Toronto, ON

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this review?

Response: As a medical oncologist who has treated breast cancer patients for over 30 years, I have found that most of the women in my practice are desperately looking for things they can do beyond standard surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, etc. to increase their chance of cure.  Unfortunately, many fall prey to false claims they read over the Internet or hear from well-meaning friends and relatives.  As a result they turn to absurdly restrictive diets (eg. No meat, dairy or sugar) or to ‘supplements’ with unproven effectiveness or even safety. So I thought it would be helpful to review the literature to determine what evidence-based lifestyle changes these women could make that would at least improve their overall health and, ideally, reduce their risk of dying of recurrent breast cancer.  For this review I thought it would be great to team up with Julia Hamer, a pre-med student with a degree in nutrition who just happens to also be an Olympic level athlete!
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Non-Exercise Algorithm Predicts Fitness and Lifestyle-Related Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bjarne M. Nes, PhD
K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in
Medicine, Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Trondheim, Norway.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It is well known that cardiorespiratory fitness is an important predictor of future cardiovascular disease risk. Still, fitness levels are rarely measured in clinical practice, likely because of costly and time-consuming procedures that requires quite a lot of training.

Therefore, we wanted to test the ability of a simple estimation of fitness, from a so-called non-exercise algorithm, to identify individuals at high and low risk of cardiovascular mortality. We tested fitness alone and in combination with traditional risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and family history of heart disease and diabetes, among 38,480 men and women from the Nord-Trondelag Health Study in Norway. We found that estimated fitness strongly predicts premature deaths from all causes and that traditional clinical risk factors added little above and beyond fitness in terms of predicting risk.

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Pandemic of Global Physical Inactivity Costs Lives and Money

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ding Ding (Melody), Ph.D., MPH NHMRC Early Career Senior Research Fellow/Sydney University Postdoctoral Research Fellow Prevention Research Collaboration Sydney School of Public Health The University of Sydney

Dr. Melody Ding

Ding Ding (Melody), Ph.D., MPH
NHMRC Early Career Senior Research Fellow
Sydney University Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Prevention Research Collaboration
Sydney School of Public Health
The University of Sydney

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Understanding the true burden of a pandemic is indispensable for informed decision making. After decades of research, we now have established knowledge about how physical inactivity contributes to pre-mature deaths and chronic diseases, but the economic burden of physical inactivity remains unquantified at the global level. Through estimating the economic burden of physical inactivity for the first time, we hope to create a business case for investing in cost-effective actions to promote physical activity at the global levels.

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