Health Capsules – Oct. 24
Pedal the Cause nets $1.5 million for cancer research
More than 1,850 St. Louisans participated the weekend of Oct. 6 and 7 in “Pedal the Cause” for local cancer research. This year’s cycling challenge, founded in 2010 by Bill Koman, raised $1.5 million, 100 percent of which will be used to fund research at Siteman Cancer Center, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
“The money that St. Louisans raised (this year) will help fund research projects, which may someday prove vital in providing a cure for one or more types of cancer,” Jay Indovino, Pedal the Cause executive director, said. “Last year’s proceeds are currently at work funding 12 research projects, including four focused on cures for cancers affecting children. This research could ultimately lead to a cure for a disease that strikes one in two men and one in three women.”
The 2012 event kicked off with the Pedal the Cause Kids Challenge and a Saturday evening program featuring NewsChannel 5’s Leisa Zigman and former St. Louis Rams linebacker Chris Draft. Sunday’s cycling challenge featured several courses, stretching from downtown to West County and back again. Participants were of all ages and skill levels and included many teams of cancer survivors, medical professionals or others riding to honor a loved one.
Donations can be made through Oct. 31 at pedalthecause.org. Total 2012 donations will be announced on Nov. 15.
Arsenic in rice
The latest issue of “Consumer Reports” features an article stating that the magazine found organic rice baby cereal, rice breakfast cereals, brown and white rice and other types of rice products contain arsenic, “many at worrisome levels.” (“Arsenic in Your Food,” November 2012).
“In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms,” the story states. “We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern. Moreover, the foods we checked are popular staples, eaten by adults and children alike.”
“Consumer Reports” cited “worrisome” levels of arsenic in cereals typically consumed by babies 4-12 months of age and recommends that parents limit babies’ consumption of infant rice cereal to a single serving per day, on average.
Late last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the first part of an ongoing study of arsenic in foods and reported that results of its testing of about 200 samples of rice and rice products appeared to be consistent with results from the “Consumer Reports” testing. However, the FDA did not recommend that consumers alter their consumption of products containing rice and maintained that it would be premature to recommend modifying diets until completion of a more thorough analysis.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) weighed in on the matter also, stating that the two reports’ findings “are that arsenic is present in quantities that might increase an individual’s life-time risk of cancer when children consume typical amounts of rice products.”
“While additional research, including the results of the ongoing FDA study, will be needed to provide detailed recommendations, the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that at the individual level, offering children a variety of foods, including products made from oats and wheat, will decrease children’s exposure to arsenic derived from rice,” the AAP said in a Sept. 19 news release. “In addition, if parents raise questions about arsenic in juice products, they can be reminded that it is not necessary to offer children any juice in a well-balanced, healthy diet; and that for years the AAP has recommended limited intake of all sweet beverages, including juice.”
To read the “Consumer Reports” story, visit consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/index.htm. The FDA’s report can be found at fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FoodContaminantsAdulteration/Metals/ucm319870.htm.
A large-scale study suggests that happiness and mental health are highest among those who eat seven daily portions of fruits and vegetables.
University of Warwick researchers who examined eating habits of 80,000 people in Britain found that mental well-being appeared to improve with the number of portions of fruits and vegetables people consumed per day, with well-being peaking at seven servings a day. The study did not distinguish among varieties of fruits and vegetables consumed and defined a portion as roughly 80 grams.
“Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?” was conducted in conjunction with Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. At press time, it is scheduled for publication in Social Indicators Research.
Obesity rates on the rise
The proportion of Americans who are severely obese continues to increase rapidly, according to a new study by the RAND Corporation, a not-for-profit research organization.
The RAND study looked at more than 3 million people and found that from 2000-2010, the proportion of Americans who were 100 or more pounds overweight rose from 3.9 percent to 6.6 percent – an increase of roughly 70 percent. While the heaviest Americans continue to get even heavier, beginning in 2005, that trend began to slow somewhat.
“The proportion of people at the high end of the weight scale continues to increase faster than any other group of obese people, despite increased public attention on the risks of obesity,” said Roland Sturm, lead author of the study.
The prevalence of severe obesity was about 50 percent higher among women than men, and for all levels of obesity, increases were faster among people younger than 40.
To be “severely obese,” a person must have a body mass index (BMI), which is the ratio of weight to height, of 40 or higher. The typical severely obese man is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 300 pounds; a typical severely obese woman is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds.
People with a BMI of 25 to 29 are considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or more classifies a person as being obese. For a 5-foot-10 inch male, a BMI of 30 translates into being 35 pounds too heavy.
The National Institute of Child & Human Development and the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality supported the study.
Where’s the fat?
You can’t see it with the naked eye, but visceral fat seems to raise the risk for diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center looked at about seven years of data on more than 700 obese individuals and compared visceral fat – the kind found around organs – with other fat, such as the kind that results in potbellies.
“People in the highest third of visceral fat had over three times greater likelihood of getting diabetes that people in the bottom third,” Ian Neeland, one of the researchers, said.
Researchers found no additional risk of diabetes for those whose fat was not the visceral type.
Because visceral fat levels are not discernable without expensive imaging, Neeland said he advises controlling fat all over.
The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Some adults and teens need chickenpox vaccine
The vaccine for chickenpox, or varicella, became available in 1996, and since that time, the number of chickenpox cases has fallen about 80 percent.
But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a lot of people still are not fully vaccinated, which makes them vulnerable.
“The varicella vaccine is recommended for children, who should get two doses, with the first dose given and 12 to 15 months of age, and the second at 4 to 6 years of age,” CDC researcher Adriana Lopez said.
Teens and adults who never have had chickenpox should also get two doses, at least 28 days apart.
No need to brace yourself
Upon review of 29 studies on treatment following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, a team of orthopaedic surgeons concluded that wearing a knee brace post-surgery has no effect on a person’s recovery. Physicians did conclude, however, that exercises to improve strength, range of motion and functionality have significant benefits.
“The most important thing for ACL surgery patients is to start physical therapy early and rigorously,” said Dr. Rick W. Wright, co-chief of the sports medicine department at the Washington University Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “It can be difficult at first, but it’s worth it in terms of returning to sports and other activities.”
On the calendar
The Siteman Cancer Center mammography van will be on site for breast cancer screenings from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at West County Family YMCA, 16464 Burkhardt Place in Chesterfield; on Monday, Nov. 5 at Wildwood Family YMCA, 2641 Hwy. 109; on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at Creve Coeur Schnucks, 10650 Olive Blvd.; and on Wednesday, Dec. 26 at Edward Jones Family YMCA, 12521 Marine Ave. in Maryland Heights. A Washington University radiologist will read all mammograms. The fee will be billed to the patient, her insurance company or Medicare; assistance is available for those who do not have insurance. To schedule an appointment, call (314) 747-7222.
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“Sleepless in St. Louis: What’s Ruining Your Sleep?” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. (registration at 6:15 p.m.) on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at the Jewish Community Center Arts and Education Building. Dr. Oscar Schwartz, the medical director of the Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital Sleep Disorder/EEG Center, will discuss sleep disorders and treatment options. To register, call (314) 542-9378.
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The city of Ellisville will hold an American Heart Association CPR and AED training class from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Park Administration Center in Bluebird Park. Attendees get up-to-date on the latest CPR guidelines and learn how to help all ages with a choking emergency and to use an automated external defibrillator. The program meets work CPR certification requirements, with the exception of health care workers; a two-year certification card is awarded. The class is open to those aged 12 and older; it is recommended that 12- to 14-year-olds attend with an adult. The fee is $50. To register, call 227-7508.
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An Alzheimer’s support group meets from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at Parc Provence, 605 Coeur De Ville Drive in Creve Coeur. Call (314) 542-2500 to RSVP.