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Applied Bodybuilding Research - 6-09-04!

Are physical activity and ovarian cancer in women linked, how does noise pollution effect our body, if this is the season for high cholesterol, how ephedra effects your heart, what supplements may work less as you get older and more...

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Physical activity and ovarian cancer in women…

Women are at an increased of contracting a number of cancers. Of these cancers, ovarian cancer undoubtedly one of the worst. In fact, ovarian cancer has been shown to be the seventh most common cancer diagnosed in women, and it is a leading cause of mortality among gynecological malignancies. Recent studies have estimated that five year survival rates of this cancer are less than 30% of all women diagnosed.

As medical research continues to focus on the role of physical activity in over all health, studies have begun to show that there is a link between sedentary behaviors and ovarian cancer risk. New studies have shown that sedentary behaviors may be as detrimental to health as smoking.

A recent study peaked researchers interest when it was shown that an increase in the physical activity levels of Chinese women was associated with a lower ovarian cancer risk. It was not determined in this study the association between sedentary behaviors and ovarian cancer, merely that as one became more active, ones risks for ovarian cancer decreased.

Chinese researchers have recently examined the link between ovarian cancer and sedentary behaviors by conducting a study with 907 participants, 255 of which were in the manipulation group, and 652 participants who were in the control group.

At the beginning of the study, researchers interviewed all participants and asked them the following questions:

"Five years ago, how many hours on average, in a day, did you spend sitting in the following places?"

  1. At work
  2. While watching television
  3. In car or bus
  4. At meals
  5. In other activities such as reading, playing cards and sewing

The participants were also asked to report their weekly average time spent in three intensity levels of physical activity. These activities were: strenuous sports, vigorous work, and moderate activity in occupational and leisure time. They were also asked to report their frequency of activity while sitting.

Following the questionnaire, researchers gathered data on the participants lifestyles, their demographic characteristics, nutrition patterns, reproductive history, hormone status, and family history of cancer. After analyzing the data, researchers concluded that sedentary behaviors were associated with an increase in ovarian cancer risk.

Researchers hypothesized that physical inactivity can reduce insulin sensitivity, can lead to an environment that facilitates neoplasia, contribute to obesity and its metabolic consequences.

Source: Cancer Causes and Control 15: 83-89, 2004.

Noise pollution and its effects on the body...

In today's fast-paced world, time isn't everything: it's the only thing.

As the world becomes smaller through globalization, life is becoming increasingly fast-paced. As a result, people are spending more time working and less time relaxing. But the increase in the speed of life comes with a considerable disadvantage: excessive noise pollution.

For some time researchers have hypothesized that excessive noise pollution has detrimental effects on health. Anecdotal evidence from cities like Los Angeles and London suggest that noise from commercial aircraft is linked with an increase in psychiatric and psychological disorders. However, science has yet to convincingly establish that even a correlational relationship exists.

A recent paper by Dr. Stephen A. Stansfeld at the University of London has examined the effects of noise pollution on overall health. The paper points out a number of disconcerting facts.

The paper notes that an overexposure to environmental or industrial noise pollution can interfere in the ability to successfully complete complex motor tasks, can modify social behavior, and can cause sleep disturbances. But these are not the only detrimental effects of noise on the body. Excess noise also can have non-auditory effects.

For example, exposure to excessive noise pollution during sleep can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and body movements. Exposure can also affect ones perception of quality of sleep, and ones subsequent mood and performance the following day.

The paper notes that by decreasing noise pollution in one's immediate sleeping area, it is possible to increase REM sleep, thus leading to an increase in sleep quality. With respect to short and long-term memory, it is known that noise can be an interfering factor in the encoding process.

If one is attempting to take short-term memory information and convert it into long-term memory storage, excessive noise exposure can impair the performance of this process. Furthermore, excessive exposure to noise pollution can cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, peripheral vasoconstriction, and can lead to increased peripheral vascular resistance.

These things aside, the most significant factor for bodybuilders is that exposure to excessive noise pollution can cause cortisol levels to spike, thus placing the bodybuilder in a catabolic state. High cortisol levels will minimize muscular hypertrophy, and will lead to muscle atrophy.

Bodybuilder should take precautions to minimize their exposure to excessive noise pollution, and should make note of the environmental and industrial noise to which they are exposed on a daily basis.

Source: British medical bulletin, 2003; 68: 243-257.

Do you have high cholesterol? It may be the season...

Millions of overweight and obese North Americans have high cholesterol. In fact, high cholesterol levels have become such a problem that pharmaceutical companies have developed cholesterol-lowering drugs, and these drugs are being prescribed and used in record numbers.

While sometimes genetic, the majority of the time high cholesterol levels are thought to result from poor nutritional habits, physical inactivity, and environmental conditions. The contribution of a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutritional habits to high cholesterol levels is well-known and has been researched extensively. However, the contribution of environmental factors toward overall cholesterol levels has, until now, not been well-studied.

A recent study aimed to examine the contribution of environmental factors on serum cholesterol levels. The study was a longitudinal study of seasonal variation and examined cholesterol levels in healthy volunteers by administering a questionnaire and by also collecting data from the National Weather Service.

Researchers gather data on participant stature, waste and hip circumference, as well as body mass and fasting blood lipid values. Researchers repeated data collection every three months with a three-week window, and also at a one year anniversary, for a total of five assessments.

Researchers collected data on the individuals eating habits every 24 hours, through a telephone interview. Data was also collected on the participants estimated physical activity levels and calculated energy expenditure from household activities.

Overall, 476 individuals (144 men and 232 women) participated in this study. The mean age of each person was 50 years. It is noted that as a whole, the study group had a relatively low level of physical activity. The only difference in physical activity was noticed with an increase in physical activity during the summer period.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that in comparison to winter cholesterol levels, summer cholesterol levels were down by a mean of three points. They therefore concluded that a change in the season is associated with a change in blood lipid levels. Specifically, that in the summertime cholesterol levels are lower than at other times of the year.

Source: archives of internal medicine. 2004; 164: 863-870.

Ephedra its effects on the heart...

The widespread use of ephedra by athletes and overweight persons looking to improve physical condition had been an issue of controversy for many years. With the recent ban of ephedra products by the United States Food and Drug Administration, the debate now seems to be closed.

However, it is worth examining the scientific basis for the government's decision, in order to determine whether the position is scientifically sound, or was simply fueled by irresponsible, salacious, and sensational media reporting.

The high-profile death of Mr. Stephen Belcher has been the most significant event to date that has acted as a catalyst for the ban of ephedra. Mr. Belcher was a professional baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, and it was concluded by some that he died as a result of taking an ephedra based weight loss supplement.

This led ephedra opponents to push for a ban - and they got it.

However, it was not mentioned in media reports that Mr. Belcher was overweight, had a dangerous heart condition, exceeded the recommended dose of the product, ignored label warnings, took the product on an empty stomach, exercised in 104 degree Fahrenheit heat, and also suffered from dehydration.

His death is a tragedy, and these facts in no way blame the victim for the result, but from this case it is clear that ephedra was not the only factor contributing to his death.

Nevertheless, ephedra is now a banned substance for weight loss purposes.

Many Scientists in the academic world have labeled the governments recent ban of ephedra scientifically unsound. In its defense, the government has stated that ephedra is unsafe and is responsible for more harm to the population than good. Its scientists claim that ephedra causes initial rapid weight loss, but that over time this weight loss is nothing more than the loss of water.

They then go on to claim that after ceasing oral administration of ephedra, the body rebounds and not only is lost weight regained, but additional weight is gained as well. All of this is not worth the strain ephedra places on the body - most notably the heart, renal and cardiovascular systems.

These claims have led researchers in North Carolina to conduct a study on the cardiovascular effects of ephedra, in an attempt to determine what effect, if any, ephedra has on the cardiovascular system.

Researchers admitted to performing the study as a result of the realization that ephedra related adverse events accounted for more than half of all reported dietary supplement reactions, even though products containing ephedra account for less than 1 percent of all supplement sales.

The study examined 8 otherwise healthy but overweight subjects who were nonsmokers. The subjects were given a full physical examination and their medical history was taken into account. After fasting overnights the subjects received ephedrine sulfate taken with 240 milliliters of cranberry juice. After the administration, measurements were taken for eight hours.

It was noted that blood pressure and heart rate rose, but that this rise diminished after a short period of time, and was not permanent or dangerous. Aside from an increase in systolic blood pressure, no other negative effects were noticed.

This study calls into question the validity of the government ban on this effective weight-loss supplement. Anecdotal evidence from five thousand years of human history also calls the governments ban into question.

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Bodybuilders can rest easy, however. While ephedra can no longer be marketed as a "weight loss" supplement, it can be marketed over-the-counter as a "nasal decongestant" for persons with asthma.

If safety, and not profits, were the governments motive, ephedra would be banned from sale altogether. Regardless, bodybuilders can take advantage of the governments overt hypocrisy.

    Do You Think Ephedra Should Have Been Banned?

Source: British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 57: 5,552-562, 552.

Why supplements may work less as you become older...

As one ages, and as the metabolism begins to slow, it is known that the effectiveness of drugs and medications decrease. Older persons do not respond as well or as quickly to medication therapies, compared to their younger counterparts.

It is important that as one ages, one adjusts ones expectations of the performance of a supplement or drug realistically.

The results that one sees by taking a supplement in youth will be drastically reduced when one takes the same supplement later on in life.

Check out more research updates, click here!


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Copyright © Clayton South, 2004 All rights reserved.

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