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Science notes: An argument for slow but steady

  • June 16, 2012 - 3:50 PM

AN ARGUMENT FOR SLOW BUT STEADY

The amount of exercise needed to improve health and longevity is modest, and more is not necessarily better, a new research suggests.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and other institutions combed through the records of 52,656 U.S. adults. Over the course of the study, 2,984 participants died. But among those who ran, there was a 19 percent lower risk of dying from any cause than non-runners.

Notably, those who said they ran one to 20 miles per week at an average pace of about 10 or 11 minutes per mile -- in other words, jogging -- reduced their risk of dying more effectively than those who didn't run, those (admittedly few) who ran more than 20 miles a week, and those who typically ran at a pace swifter than 7 miles an hour. This decidedly modest amount of exercise led to an increase of, on average, 6.2 years in the life span of male joggers and 5.6 years in women.

DIABETES DRUGS, VISION TROUBLES

A popular class of drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of vision problems, a study in Archives of Internal Medicine suggests, underlining the importance of regular eye exams for anyone with diabetes. The study is one of the largest to investigate vision loss associated with thiazolidinediones, a group of drugs that includes Actos and Avandia. The study followed more than 103,000 people for a decade. Those who were using one of the medications were found to have a macular edema risk two to three times as high, though the likelihood of disease was relatively small overall. Combining the drugs with insulin seemed to heighten the risk further.

OLDER DAD MAY OFFER BENEFIT

Fathers who wait until they're almost 40 to have children may provide a benefit to their offspring: longer lives.

Children of older fathers, those in their late 30s to early 50s, inherit longer telomeres, caps at the end of the chromosomes that protect them from degeneration, said a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Longer telomeres seem to promote slower aging and may mean a longer lifespan for these children, the study said.

Previous research has shown that the older a man is when he reproduces, the more likely the children are to carry spontaneously arising mutations. The new study of 2,023 children suggests late fatherhood isn't all risk, said Dan Eisenberg, a study author and doctoral student at Northwestern University.

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