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Simple behaviors shown to add years


Four simple behaviors -- being physically active, not smoking, drinking moderately and consuming fruits and vegetables -- can increase longevity as much as 14 years, researchers have found.

The study, published recently in the online journal PLoS Medicine, surveyed 20,244 men and women (ages 45 to 79) in the United Kingdom between 1993 and 1997. The participants, none of whom had cardiovascular disease or cancer at the beginning of the study, were asked if they were nonsmokers, were physically active, had moderate alcohol consumption and ate five servings of fruits or vegetables a day.

One point was assigned for each healthy behavior.

Participants were tracked until 2006, and researchers found that those with a score of zero were four times more likely to have died as those who scored a four, and each point increased longevity incrementally.

"We observed that these people [who scored a four] on average lived longer by 14 years," says Dr. Kay-Tee Khaw, professor of clinical gerontology at the University of Cambridge and lead author of the study.

"I think sometimes it's almost too discouraging for people when they think those changes are too big to make," she adds. "Doing something is better than nothing, and the more changes you can make, the better."

Los Angeles Times

Blood clots

Minor leg injuries might boost risk

David Beckhams of the world, Mafia snitches who get their kneecaps broken and even folks prone to whacking their legs on inanimate objects have one more thing to worry about. Injuries to the leg may increase the risk of blood clots.

In a study of 2,471 patients diagnosed with either deep venous thrombosis (a blood clot in the leg) or pulmonary embolism (a clot that has traveled to the lung), researchers at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that 11.7 percent had had a minor leg injury in the three months before the diagnosis.

This represents a threefold increase in risk relative to the control group, senior author Dr. Frits Rosendaal wrote in an e-mail.

Those in certain high-risk groups for venous thrombosis, such as people with a family history of the disorder or a genetic predisposition, were especially vulnerable to forming a blood clot after a leg injury. "Indeed, the latter group has a 50-fold increased risk," said Rosendaal, a professor of clinical epidemiology at Leiden University Medical Center.

There are several reasons that leg injuries could increase the risk of blood clots, the authors noted in the study, which appears in the Jan. 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Even minor injuries could cause an individual to be inactive for a period, which could increase susceptibility to blood clots. Another possibility is that damage to the blood vessel increases clotting risk in the affected area.

Los Angeles Times


Leafy greens may help in deterring diseases

Dismiss it as boring if you would like, but "rabbit food" could be just what the doctor orders at your next ophthalmologist's visit.

Eating the right vegetables may help to ward off some life-changing diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, conditions you might otherwise come eye to eye with as you get older.

Surprisingly, despite their reputation, carrots are probably not near the top of the list. Certainly, the vitamin A they are full of is necessary for eye health, says Dr. Michael Marmor, an ophthalmology professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. "But people are generally not vitamin A deficient in our society, and a high dose doesn't do any more good."

The most useful vegetables, according to new research, seem to be the leafy green ones -- such as spinach, kale and collard greens -- which are rich in the antioxidant carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

These are also the only carotenoids found in measurable amounts in the eye, says Bill Christen, a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School. "That adds credence to the idea that they could be of benefit," he says.

Christen is lead author of a new study published this month showing that people who eat diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin are less likely to develop cataracts than others whose diets included less of those nutrients. A second new study by Australian scientists that is to be published next month found similar results for age-related macular degeneration.

Los Angeles Times

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