Category Archives: Longevity

Is 10,000 Steps a Day Really Necessary for the Longevity Benefit?

Dog owners live longer. Is it because of dog-walking?

It depends.

Among older women [average age 72], as few as approximately 4400 steps/d was significantly related to lower mortality rates compared with approximately 2700 steps/d. With more steps per day, mortality rates progressively decreased before leveling at approximately 7500 steps/d. Stepping intensity was not clearly related to lower mortality rates after accounting for total steps per day.

Source: Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women | Geriatrics | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network

10,000 steps is about five miles, depending on stride length. 6,000 steps would be about three miles. Walking at two miles per hour, a leisurely stroll, it would take 90 minutes to walk three miles.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Vegetarians Are Less Healthy Than Omnivores

Bussells sprouts and radishes ready for roasting

From Independent:

Vegetarians are less healthy than meat-eaters, a controversial study has concluded, despite drinking less, smoking less and being more physically active than their carnivorous counterparts.

A study conducted by the Medical University of Graz in Austria found that the vegetarian diet, as characterised by a low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products, appeared to carry elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

While not mentioned in the Independent article, the full PLOS One report defined “vegetarian”:

While 0.2% of the interviewees were pure vegetarians (57.7% female), 0.8% reported to be vegetarians consuming milk and eggs (77.3% female), and 1.2% to be vegetarians consuming fish and/ or eggs and milk (76.7% female).

I haven’t read the whole thing, but if you’re a vegetarian, you should digest it. Note the study was done in Austria. And if vegetarians are so unhealthy, why do Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, CA, seem to have a longevity benefit. Do ya think maybe there’s more involved than diet, like culture or genetics?

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Do You Really Need That PPI?

“I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” –Woody Allen

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are widely used in the U.S. to treat or prevent heartburn and ulcers. For example, omeprazole is the 6th most prescribed drug in the U.S. according to one source. PPIs reduce acid production by the stomach. Doesn’t it make sense that God or Nature gave us that stomach acid for a reason? Like to kill germs or aid the digestive process?

From the British Medical Journal:

Taking PPIs is associated with a small excess of cause specific mortality including death due to cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer. The burden was also observed in patients without an indication for PPI use. Heightened vigilance in the use of PPI may be warranted.

Source: Estimates of all cause mortality and cause specific mortality associated with proton pump inhibitors among US veterans: cohort study | The BMJ

Click for UPI’s coverage.

If you suffer from frequent heatburn, try cutting down on carbohydrates.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under cancer, Longevity

Sugary Beverages Increase Risk of Death

Wonder if sugar in coffee counts?

Sugary beverages also make it harder to control blood sugar levels.

From JAMA Network:

Question:  Is the consumption of sugary beverages (ie, sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices) associated with an increased mortality risk?

Findings:  In this cohort study of 13 440 black and white adults 45 years and older observed for a mean of 6.0 years, each additional 12-oz serving/d of sugary beverages was associated with an 11% higher all-cause mortality risk, and each additional 12-oz serving/d of fruit juice was associated with a 24% higher all-cause mortality risk. Similar associations were not observed for sugary beverage consumption and coronary heart disease mortality.

Meaning:  These results suggest higher consumption of sugary beverages, including fruit juice, is associated with increased mortality.

Source: Association of Sugary Beverage Consumption With Mortality Risk in US Adults: A Secondary Analysis of Data From the REGARDS Study | Cardiology | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Tighter Blood Pressure Control Benefits Type 2 Diabetes

Not bad

From Diabetes Self-Management:

The new study evaluated roughly 11,000 people with type 2 diabetes in 20 countries over four years, finding that those who received the blood pressure drugs perindopril and indapamide to keep their blood pressure levels at or below 130/80 had fewer heart attacks, strokes and other complications than those receiving placebo (inactive treatment). They also had a “lower overall risk of dying from any cause.”

Source: Tight Blood Pressure Control Benefits Type 2 Diabetes: Study – Diabetes Self-Management

You may think the aforementioned health benefits stem from use of perindopril and/or indapamide. It’s either that or simply the result of BP lowering. I suspect it’s the latter while admitting that not all BP drugs are created equal. As a hospitalist in Scottsdale, AZ, I rarely run across patients taking perindopril, and only occasionally folks on indapamide. Popularity of various drugs varies often depends on which part of the country you’re in. We need to be more scientific than that.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Losing excess weight and exercise are two ways to lower blood pressure without the expense and side effects of drugs.

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Lack of Fitness Is Worse for Your Health Than Smoking, Diabetes, and Heart Disease

exercise for weight loss and management, dumbbells

At least he’s trying…

I’ve long advocated that life and health insurance companies base their premiums on results of individual treadmill exercise tests or similar. Here’s why.

From CNN:

We’ve all heard exercise helps you live longer. But a new study goes one step further, finding that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease.

Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, called the results “extremely surprising.”

“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Jaber told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”

Source: Not exercising worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease – CNN

Most folks can improve their fitness by exercising regularly. But what about nonresponders?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: All of my weight-loss books recommend and teach you how to improve your level of fitness.

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Have I Been Wrong About the Mediterranean Diet for the Last 12 years?

Bastian is also skeptical about the health benefits of judicious alcohol consumption. Fair enough.

Hilda Bastian at PLOS Blogs wrote about the recent retraction of a PREDIMED sub-study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013. The suspect conclusion of that study was: “Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events.”

From Ms Bastian:

A very influential nutrition trial just tanked. It was retracted from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on 13 June, and re-published with new analyses and toned-down conclusions. Both Gina Kolata, writing in the New York Times, and Alison McCook, writing at NPR, imply, at least to some extent, that it might make no difference to the evidence. But I disagree.

Here’s what’s happened to the trial, and where I think it leaves the overall evidence. Called PREDIMED, it was a multi-center trial from Spain, with the NEJM final report published in 2013. Altogether, 7,447 people at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) – heart attack and stroke – were reported as randomized to one of 3 groups:

  • Mediterranean diet with free olive oil provided, along with individual and group training sessions at the start, and then quarterly;
  • Mediterranean diet with free nuts provided, along with individual and group training sessions at the start, and then quarterly;
  • Advice to reduce fat intake, with a leaflet – but after the first 3 years, people in this control group were also offered individual and group training sessions.

The primary endpoint for the trial was a composite one of major cardiovascular events: myocardial infarction, stroke, or CVD-related death. And the trial was stopped early. More people dropped out of the control group than the Mediterranean diet groups.There are several alarm bells here already, and we’ll come back to those.

Source: What Does the PREDIMED Trial Retraction & Reboot Mean for the Mediterranean Diet? | Absolutely Maybe

I encourage you to read Ms Bastian’s article if you enjoy such debates. I consider the 2013 PREDIMED sub-study to be one of numerous pieces of the nutritional puzzle.

I published the 2nd edition of my Advanced Mediterranean Diet in 2012, so the 2013 PREDIMED sub-study was not available to me. At the end of my book you’ll find not one, but 43 scientific references supporting the healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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My Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes book was also based predominantly on those 43 studies.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Health Benefits, Heart Disease, Longevity, Mediterranean Diet