Nordic walking, an aerobic activity performed with walking poles similar to ski poles, may benefit patients with breast cancer, according to a review of existing research.
The low-impact exercise improved swelling, physical fitness, disability and quality of life, the study authors conclude in the European Journal of Cancer Care.
“The main strategy in rehabilitation for women with breast cancer is a change of habits, where physical exercise is a fundamental tool,” said study co-author Jorge Torres of the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Sports at the University of Vigo in Pontevedra, Spain.
“It’s not easy to turn a sedentary person into an amateur athlete, so sports such as Nordic walking are accepted more easily,” Torres told Reuters Health by email, particularly since the activity doesn’t require expensive equipment, can be done in a group with others, and is easy to learn.
Introduced in the 1980s as a summer training exercise that was similar to cross-country, or Nordic, skiing, Nordic walking became more widespread in the 2000s. It’s now part of some exercise-based rehabilitation programs, especially in Northern Europe where it is more common, Torres noted.
He also owns a personal training company, Vigo Entrena, that creates physical activity programs for people with specific needs, including injuries, obesity, pregnancy, postpartum and women with breast cancer, and he specializes in Nordic walking training.
To see if this form of exercise helps women treated for breast cancer to reduce side effects like arm swelling, and offers other benefits of exercise, Torres and his colleagues analyzed nine studies. Four studies were randomized controlled trials comparing Nordic walking to other activities; the other studies focused on specific effects of Nordic walking.
Periods of exercise in the studies ranged from 30 to 80 minutes and were performed on one to five days a week for up to 12 weeks.
In eight of the nine studies, Nordic walking had a positive effect on a number of breast cancer symptoms, including lymphedema, fitness, upper-body strength, disability and perceptions of pain and swelling.
A handful of studies also showed improvements in depression, self-efficacy for managing pain and improvements in physical activity levels. They didn’t find any adverse effects, and the study participants seemed to stick with the programs.
The biomechanical gesture of Nordic walking, compared to just walking, seemed to counteract some of the side effects that can come from cancer treatment, such as shoulder-arm mobility and postural problems, the study team writes.
“(Many) health professionals and therapists do not realize that there are contraindicated exercises during breast cancer rehabilitation and that alternatives such as Nordic walking can be very effective,” Torres said.
“Nordic walking is a structured form of physical activity which nowadays has been shown to be ‘more complete’ than basic walking,” said Marco Bergamin of the University of Padova in Italy, who wasn’t involved in the research review.
“Another important point that is less stressed by these authors: quality of life,” Bergamin said in an email. “Nordic walking gives huge benefits because breast cancer patients are survivors, and from a socio-psychological point of view, that really impacts their life.”
Future studies should also investigate the intensity, frequency, duration, and length of exercise needed to help breast cancer patients, said Lucia Cugusi of the University of Cagliari in Italy, who also wasn’t involved in the review.
“What is most evident is the growing interest of the scientific community in tracking the needs, interests and preferences of patients,” Cugusi said by email.
“Offering them novel forms of physical activity that are both effective and engaging has become one of the new and stimulating research fields in cancer therapy and management.”
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Has the time come to quit vaping forever?
Allegations of illegal marketing tactics. More than 500 cases of severe lung illness in 38 states. Eight deaths. A proposed federal ban of most flavoured e-cigarettes, and new efforts in many states to counter an epidemic of youth vaping.
There’s been an avalanche of vaping news this month, which leaves many users facing a crucial question: Is it time to quit? Here’s a look at the issues.
First, how big is vaping?
E-cigarettes swept onto the market about a decade ago. They’re now a $2.6 billion industry in the United States, and roughly 20,000 vape and smoke shops have sprung up across the country in the past few years. There is also a thriving black market for vape pods. A survey last year found that 10.8 million American adults used e-cigarettes — and that more than half were also smoking cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have become especially popular among teenagers. Preliminary results from an annual survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and released on Wednesday found that one in four 12th graders said they had vaped in the previous month, a sharp rise from the previous year.
Young people are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction and may be more likely to take up regular cigarettes once they are hooked.
Is vaping safer than smoking?
There was an idea for a while that e-cigarettes, because they don’t generate smoke and tar, were safer than smoking cigarettes, or at least that they could help a smoker shift to a less dangerous alternative. But the mysterious spate of illnesses thrust concerns about vaping’s health effects into the spotlight. Many of the people who got sick were vaping THC, and the authorities are investigating what else black-market pods contain.
Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, noted that the organisation’s opposition to vaping predated the outbreak.
He disputed the perception that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative, and pointed to the lack of information about what chemicals they contain and the paucity of research about the effects of vaping.
“To say that something is safer than a product like cigarettes that kills seven million people in the world each year because of tobacco-related disease, and half a million people in this country, is not saying a lot,” Rizzo said.
“We have no evidence of whether it’s safe at all. There’s just no scientific basis for that.”
A new generation of young people addicted
The rise of vaping comes after at least two decades of great success in decreasing smoking rates across the country, and has health experts concerned that those gains could be reversed.
Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and especially harmful to young people, whose brains are still developing. (The human brain is still developing until you turn 25 or so.) Nicotine can harm the parts of the brain that handle memory, attention and learning.
It’s also illegal for minors to vape. (A growing number of states have even raised the vaping age to 21.) And using e-cigarettes may make teenagers more likely to smoke real cigarettes in the future. Rizzo noted that the vast majority of current smokers became addicted before they were 18.
Some people may not realise how much nicotine they’re ingesting as they puff away. A typical pod made by Juul can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes and is designed to last for about 200 puffs.
“We have a new generation of young people in high school and middle school that are now nicotine addicted,” Rizzo said. “We don’t know what the dangers of e-cigarettes are.”
What about THC?
While many people use e-cigarettes to inhale nicotine, some use it for THC, the high-inducing chemical found in marijuana. A large portion of the recent cases of lung illness were in patients who vaped THC.
The Food and Drug Administration said that a significant subset of samples of vaping fluid used by sick patients also contained a compound called vitamin E acetate, which has been a subject of further investigation. The FDA has warned people to avoid vaping THC.
A minority of the people who got sick said they had used e-cigarettes containing only nicotine — but there were also concerns that some young people were not being entirely forthcoming about their vaping habits.
Public health officials are warning people against vaping
Public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that people refrain from vaping as the agency investigates the illnesses. They stressed that young people, pregnant women and nonsmokers should never vape. They also cautioned people who do use e-cigarettes to monitor themselves for symptoms of lung illness, like coughing and chest pain.
An editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine this month stated bluntly that doctors should discourage people from vaping and reiterated that e-cigarettes should never be used by nonsmokers.
The acting commissioner of the FDA, Ned Sharpless, has said that the issue of tobacco control in the e-cigarette era keeps him up at night. The agency got authority over what it calls “electronic nicotine delivery systems” only in 2016, and is now working on new research and regulations.
In a statement, Sharpless noted the inherent paradox of e-cigarettes: While they were pitched as a way to get smokers to stop lighting up, they hooked a new generation that may end up smoking traditional cigarettes to get that fix.
The New York Times
Superfoods for a thriving heart
Heart ailments are the leading cause of mortality around the world. Moderating your salt intake is, perhaps, the most important thing one can do to protect the heart. Researchers have also found certain foods that can contribute in keeping the heart healthy. Here’s a list of the most commonly available ones.
Berries: Blueberries and strawberries contain anthocyanins, which can help reduce a person’s blood pressure.
Bananas: Bananas contain plenty of potassium, a mineral that plays a vital role in managing hypertension. Other potassium rich foods include avocado, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, halibut, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tuna and beans.
Beets: Researchers suggest that high levels of inorganic nitrate in beets can help reduce blood pressure.
Dark chocolate: About 30 grams of chocolate that contains a minimum of 70 per cent cocoa can be had every day.
Kiwi: A daily serving of kiwi can reduce blood pressure in people with mildly elevated levels, according to results of one study. Kiwi are also rich in vitamin C, which may significantly improve blood pressure readings in people who consumed around 500 mg of the vitamin every day for about eight weeks.
Watermelon: The fruit contains an amino acid called citrulline, which can help manage high blood pressure.
Oats: They contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Beta-glucan also lowers blood pressure according to some research.
Leafy green vegetables: They are rich in nitrates, which help manage blood pressure. Some research papers suggest that eating 1-2 servings of nitrate-rich vegetables every day can reduce hypertension for up to 24 hours.
Garlic: Eating garlic can increase a person’s nitric oxide levels. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal food. Its main active ingredient, allicin, is often responsible for associated health benefits.
Fermented foods: They are rich in probiotics — beneficial bacteria that play an important role in maintaining gut health.
Lentils: They are an excellent source of vegetarian protein and fiber.
Pomegranate: Drinking a cup of pomegranate juice daily for 28 days can lower high blood pressure.
Cinnamon: An analysis has showed that cinnamon decreased short-term systolic blood pressure by 5.39 mm Hg & diastolic blood pressure by 2.6mm Hg.
Mushroom: It’s consumption is associated with less plaque formation in the brain.
Fatty Fish: Like Salmon, Trout and sardines are rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Green Tea: it is loaded with antioxidants that can prevent cell death and ageing by targeting free radicals.
Chia Seeds: It’s a plant alternate to fatty fish and has highest amount of Omega 3 fatty acids that reduce triglycerides, It’s also rich in Magnesium, calcium, Fiber, which are beneficial for the heart.
Avocados: Another superfood to lower bad cholesterol.
Walnuts and Almonds: Great source of fiber and micronutrients.
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