An ounce of prevention
How can the latest medical research help reduce the risk of cancer and other life- threatening diseases? Here is what experts suggest*:
>Are seniors at a greater risk for colorectal cancer?
A German study published in the journal Gut in November 2007 found that advanced polyps are more likely to turn into colon cancer as people age. The researchers reviewed more than 800,000 colonoscopies and cancer registries. They learned that advanced polyps found in people ages 80 and older are about twice as likely to become colorectal cancer compared to those in people between the ages of 55 to 59. Although other factors such as family history of colorectal cancer also play a role, this finding underscores an important American Cancer Society recommendation: Healthy adults need regular screenings for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50.
>Does restful sleep inhibit diabetes?
A study in the December 2007 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that a lack of deep sleep may impair the body’s ability to use insulin to process glucose, potentially increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes. Study researchers saw that three consecutive nights of interrupted deep or slow-wave sleep resulted in the production of significantly higher levels of blood glucose and a lowered sensitivity to insulin. While further study is needed, researchers recommended adopting good sleep habits to possibly reduce the risk of diabetes and enhance overall quality of life.
>Will a steady diet of red meat raise the risk of lung cancer?
Numerous studies have linked regular consumption of red and processed meats to several kinds of cancer. However, new research by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Association of Retired People suggests that meat consumption may also be linked to higher rates of a cancer not commonly associated with diet: lung cancer. The study, published in the December issue of PLoS Medicine, followed 500,000 participants and found that those who regularly ate red and processed meats were 16 percent more likely to get lung cancer even after smoking habits were taken into account. The NCI suggests moderation in red and processed meat intake, noting that consuming less “could reduce the incidence of cancer at multiple sites.”
>Can green tea prevent prostate cancer?
Findings recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that men who drank five or more cups of green tea daily cut their risk of developing advanced prostate cancer in half when compared to those who drank less than a cup each day. Researchers tracked 50,000 study participants over 14 years. However, study investigators cautioned that further research is needed to validate the preventive effects of green tea. Other large-scale studies have shown no relationship between green tea consumption and prostate cancer risk.
>*Before making significant lifestyle changes, consult with your physician.
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