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Archive for January, 2014

Type 2 Diabetes May Increase Liver Cancer Risk, Study Finds

January 29, 2014

When we think of a global epidemic, we often think of diseases like influenza or smallpox. Did you know, however, that type 2 diabetes is an emerging global epidemic that affects more than 347 million people worldwide? By the year 2030, diabetes is expected to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world.

A new study has found that those suffering from type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing liver cancer. The study was based on a large amount of data and brings added importance to diabetes prevention and methods of early detection.

According to, the study was conducted by researchers around the world and looked at individuals from different backgrounds, including white adults, Latino, Japanese-American, Native Hawaiian, and African American. The individuals were followed for a period of 16 years. Over the course of the 16-year period, 500 of the roughly 170,000 individuals analyzed developed liver cancer.


Critical linkage between type 2 diabetes and liver cancer

Researchers analyzed the data and found that having type 2 diabetes did increase the risk of developing liver cancer. Among the African American and Japanese American population, roughly 13 percent of liver cancer cases were attributed to their type 2 diabetes. This number was 6 percent among whites, and 26 percent for the Latino population. These results allowed researchers to confirm that in general, if someone is a type 2 diabetic, they were more likely to develop liver cancer.

Even with these findings, researchers noted that risk of liver cancer remained low even in type 2 diabetes patients. While the exact reason for the increased risk of liver cancer is unknown, one of the possibilities could be the medication people use to control their blood sugar levels. Overall, the researchers stated there was no direct cause-and-effect relationship found between the two diseases.

“Some of the drugs already have [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-ordered] black box warnings for bladder cancer,” said Dr. James D’Olimpio, an oncologist at Monter Cancer Center in New York, in the HealthDay article. “It’s not a stretch to think there might be other relationships between diabetes drugs and pancreatic or liver cancer. Diabetes is already associated with a high risk of developing pancreatic cancer.”


Miscellaneous study notes

Some of the other notes from the study mentioned how alcohol consumption had no impact on the relationship between diabetes and liver cancer. The same can be said for whether people smoked cigarettes. Other risk factors, including age, weight, and so on, were taken into effect within the data analysis.

Diabetes is often detected through a blood glucose screening, diabetes screening or other blood test such as those conducted by Life Line Screening. These screenings help to better gauge risk factors and promote early detection and improved treatment of the disease. Catching diabetes early can limit the dangerous health consequences that untreated diabetes can induce.

Body Fat & Heart Disease: Why a Healthy Weight Matters

January 21, 2014

Think of what $957 billion looks like. It’s hard to imagine that much money, right? According to the American Heart Association, that amount is the total healthcare costs attributable to obesity if current obesity trends continue through 2030. That massive amount of money is the cost of the health effects of obesity on the American health system, much of which comes from serious diseases like heart disease.

Doctors and researchers have long suspected excess body fat as a factor when it comes to heart disease. In the past couple of decades, an increasing number of scientific studies have backed up this suspicion. For example, according to a May 2012 study published in PLOS Medicine, when a person’s BMI score goes up by four points, they had a 52 percent increase in heart disease risk.

What is the link between excess body fat and heart disease? Science is still studying this connection. According to an article published by Medical News Today, one study conducted by the staff at the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering found that fatty meals can cause inflammation in the walls of the arteries, especially in people with excess abdominal fat and high triglyceride levels. This inflammation can lead to coronary heart disease over time.

Back in July 2013, Science Daily reported on a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study found that people with higher levels of abdominal fat have an increased chance of developing heart disease and cancer.

Excess body weight can also lead to other conditions which factor into heart disease as well. According to the CDC, obesity can lead to these five health conditions, all of which can play a major role in heart health:

  • Hypertension, known as high blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Elevated levels of triglycerides
  • Sleep apnea

As you can see, excess body fat has a direct link to heart disease. The best way to avoid this problem is to keep your weight in a healthy range. Many doctors and health professionals consider a person with a BMI level between 18.5 and 24.9 to be healthy. To put it another way as an example, if someone is 5’10”, a healthy range for that person would be from 130 to 170 pounds.

If you suspect you have an increased risk of heart problems, you may want to consider heart disease screening.  Life Line Screening provides preventive health screenings for heart disease to help those at risk detect problems before they lead to life-threatening consequences. Learning where you stand with your heart health is the best way to work towards a healthier life.

Why Winter is the Season of Heart Attacks

January 16, 2014

True or false: the number of cardiac deaths is higher on Christmas Day than any other day of the year. The second highest number of cardiac deaths occurs on Dec. 26, and the third highest occurs on Jan. 1.

The answer is true.

Most people recognize wintertime as cold and flu season, but according to Daily Local News, it’s also heart attack season. Specifically, risk for heart attack doubles in the wintertime compared to summertime.

A number of factors contribute to increased heart attack risk during the winter. Not all the reasons are because of the cold; even people in warmer climates are at greater risk. Below are the main reasons wintertime is the season of heart attacks:


Colder Temperatures

Constricted blood vessels are the body’s response to cold conditions. While this helps retain heat, it also raises blood pressure and forces the heart to work harder. The cold also increases certain proteins that thicken the blood slightly, increasing blood clot risk.

Cold-climate dwellers should bundle up when they go outside. Good tips include wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf over the mouth.


Snow Shoveling

One reason heart attack rates jump right after a major snowstorm is because of the exertion required to shovel the driveway and sidewalks. Snow shoveling raises blood pressure and can strain the heart. Those factors combined with cold weather can raise heart attack risk.

Older individuals are advised to ask for help with their snow shoveling needs. A snow blower is another useful tool to keep risk of heart attack lower in the winter.


Winter Weight Gain

The holidays usually filled with sugar-filled goodies, large family meals and other holiday treats. These extra calories can mean winter weight gain. If exercise isn’t included during the winter, excess weight can eventually strain the heart.

Everyone should keep tabs on their diet during the holidays. In moderation, it’s okay to enjoy a holiday treat now and then. Remember, though, that staying active even in colder temperatures is crucial to healthy aging.


New Year’s Resolutions

Come January, many people are ready to lose the holiday weight. However, overexertion at the gym can strain the heart and lead to increased risk of heart problems.

Seniors are advised to talk to their doctors about what type of exercise program is appropriate for them.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Less time in the sunlight during winter lowers vitamin D levels, which can lead to SAD, a wintertime depression. As with year-round depression, SAD can stress the heart and increase risk for serious heart conditions, such as heart attack.

People can avoid SAD and boost their vitamin D levels by taking supplements. Finding treatment for SAD is also important if you feel it might be affecting you.


Flu Season

Many people are unaware that flu brings with it dangerous inflammation in the body. This inflammation that accompanies the flu can increase clotting and lead to heart attacks in sensitive individuals. Flu shots are an effective heart disease prevention measure this time of year.

Stay proactive with your heart health and learn more about heart disease screenings from Life Line Screening today.

Study: Antidepressants May Increase Diabetes Risk

January 13, 2014

See if you can answer this question: what is the leading cause of disability among Americans ages 15 to 44? If you guessed heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer, you guessed wrong.

The correct answer is depression.

Depression affects about 14.8 million American adults over age 18 every year – or 6.7 percent of the population. There is a higher usage of antidepressants (medications prescribed to treat depression) now than ever before. Approximately 11 percent of Americans are taking some form of antidepressant and this number continues to increase.

One new study found, however, that taking antidepressants could increase risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes screening and glucose screening are recommended for those taking such medication whether it is for a short or long period of time.

The studies indicate that not everyone who takes antidepressants will end up with diabetes. Antidepressants do not share a causal relationship with diabetes. However, there are specific drugs that are linked to increased risk, including Tricyclic Antidepressant (TCA) and Selective Serotorium Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI). Some doctors may feel it necessary to take these two drugs together which tends to increase the chances of developing diabetes.

Because antidepressant can cause weight gain, and weight gain is a major risk factor for diabetes, the link between the two arises. In most cases, a person suffering from depression may need help from their doctor. This typically leads to taking antidepressants on a daily basis to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Adults and children who face depression are in most cases taking antidepressants to avoid further health issues. This type of medication helps balance levels of neurotransmitters that are natural chemicals in the brain.

Individuals with depression who do not seek help or take the proper medication may face problems such as continuous health issues, personal and professional problems, and in severe cases, death. About two thirds of those struggling with depression are not getting help for it. The recent conclusion that antidepressants are linked to increased diabetes risk should not prevent individuals from discussing their situation with their doctor and getting help.

If you’re worried about your risk for type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor or consider a diabetes screening.  Life Line Screening is here to help give you the tools you need to be proactive with your health.

Stay Active This Winter! Here’s How

January 8, 2014

Did you know that among all people over age 50 who make a New Year’s resolution, only 14 percent  actually achieve their goal at the end of the year? On the bright side, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals compared to people who don’t make resolutions.

You can beat that first statistic. If you chose to become healthier, become more active or get your body in better shape as your New Year resolution this year, don’t let the cold weather slow you down. It’s true that it’s much easier to bundle up and stay inside eating those delicious winter goodies. It’s important for both our physical and mental health however, to stay active during the colder months.

Keeping this in mind, here are some ideas for staying active during this chilly season when you might be tempted to stay curled up on the couch.


Get Moving Indoors

  • Look for places that have either an indoor track or plenty of open space. Some malls have earlier hours for people that want to just come in and walk laps, so you can get your laps in and avoid the crowds.
  • Resistance exercise is great for toning and has mood boosting properties. You don’t need to go to a gym, all you have to do is purchase some hand weights and resistance bands. Keep them in your living room so you can use them while watching TV.
  • If you think joining a group will keep you more motivated, look around your community for a gym or fitness class. Most recreational centers will have a variety of classes you can try.
  • Rotate through different home workouts. Purchase DVDs or find some free workouts online. Mixing these workouts will help you stay motivated and help prevent boredom.


Get Moving Outdoors

  • If you live in an area where you can enjoy milder days through the winter season, make a plan to get out and walk. Walking or hiking can be fun in winter as you notice wildlife and take in the beauty of the scenery around you.
  • If you live in a place where a great deal of snow falls, you can still get a good outside workout. Grab your snow shovel and get going. Shoveling snow can be a great way to get your heart pumping and many times, it’s a necessary activity anyway.
  • Activities such as snow shoeing, ice skating, or cross country skiing can be great ways to enjoy the scenery and get your body moving.

When it comes to healthy aging, staying active should be a big part of your daily lifestyle, no matter what time of year it is or what the temperature is outside. Preventive health screenings can be another important part. Learn more about Life Line Screening’s preventive health screenings today.


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