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Health bulletin
By Susan Stevens | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/24/2007 12:05 AM

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Short legs linked to liver disease in women

Women with short legs may have a higher risk of liver disease, with both probably caused by diet or other factors early in life, British researchers reported.

Their study of 3,600 women showed that the shorter a woman's legs were, the more likely she was to have signs of liver damage.

The findings fit in with other studies linking leg length with diabetes and heart disease, Abigail Fraser of the University of Bristol and colleagues said.

"Adult liver function is affected by early life environmental exposures as reflected in leg length, and this may suggest common childhood influences on liver development and adult risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease," they wrote.

Leg length can point to how well a person was nourished in early childhood. "In particular, evidence shows that breast-feeding, high-energy intake at four years and childhood affluent socioeconomic position are all associated with longer adult leg length," Fraser's team wrote.

Green tea may cut prostate cancer risk

Drinking green tea may reduce the risk of advanced prostate cancer, according to a study by researchers at Japan's National Cancer Center.

It said men who drank five or more cups a day might halve the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer compared with those who drank less than one cup a day.

"This does not mean that people who drink green tea are guaranteed to have reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer," said Norie Kurahashi, a scientist who took part in the study. "But the study does point to the hope that green tea reduces the risk of advanced prostate cancer."

Prostate cancer is much less common among Asian men than Western men, and that may be partly due to the effects of the high consumption of green tea in Asia, according to the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

But it said further studies are needed to confirm the preventive effects of green tea on prostate cancer, including well-designed clinical trials.

Psoriasis linked to higher death rates

People who suffer from severe psoriasis die younger than people with mild cases or without the disease for reasons that are unclear, researchers said.

"Patients with severe psoriasis should receive comprehensive health assessments to enhance preventive health practices, improve overall health and decrease the risk" of death, said a study team led by Dr. Joel Gelfand of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

A review of health records involving thousands of people in the United Kingdom between 1987 and 2002 found that men with severe psoriasis died an average of 3.5 years earlier than men without the condition, while women with severe psoriasis died 4.4 years earlier than psoriasis-free women.

No increased risk of death was found for those with mild forms of the disease, said the study in the Archives of Dermatology.

Flexible schedule may foster health

People who feel they have flexibility in their job schedules tend to have a healthier lifestyle than those with less workplace freedom, new study results suggest.

Researchers found that among nearly 3,200 U.S.-based employees of a large pharmaceutical company, those who felt they had the most workplace flexibility were more likely to report healthy habits such as exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep.

Obese wait longer for transplants

Very obese people who need a kidney transplant are far less likely to get one than normal weight people, and when they do, their wait is an average of a year to 18 months longer, a new study found.

The reason seems to be both economic and medical. Very obese people have a greater risk for complications, and the transplant centers often must bear the additional cost of treating those problems.

The study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology showed that morbidly obese patients -- those who average about 100 pounds over their ideal weight -- were 44 percent less likely to get a transplant than normal weight patients. Those just slightly less obese were 28 percent less likely to get a transplant.

The results also mean very obese patients are more likely to die; each year about 8 percent of all patients waiting for a transplant die.

7.6 million die of cancer in 2007

About 7.6 million people will die this year worldwide from various types of cancer, with lung cancer -- heavily driven by smoking -- killing 975,000 men and 376,000 women, the American Cancer Society said.

In all, about 12.3 million people will develop cancer this year, the organization projected, using data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization.

About 20,000 people die of cancer every day worldwide, the report showed. Smoking was heavily responsible for the lung cancer scourge.