You probably know that exercise is good for you, but do you know whether you’re better off riding a bike or swimming laps in the pool? Actually, if you want to get the biggest bang for your exercise buck, you should pick up a racket, new research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals. An analysis of more than 80,000 adults who were tracked for nearly a decade finds that those who played tennis, badminton or squash had the lowest risk of dying during the study. Compared with people who didn’t play racket sports, those who did were 47 percent less likely to die of any cause and 56 percent less likely to die as a result of cardiovascular disease.

More drinks linked to higher risk of a stroke

Having one or two alcoholic drinks a day is associated with a lower risk of stroke, a review of studies in BMC Medicine has found. But drinking more than that increases the risk. Compared with nondrinkers or occasional drinkers, people who had one or two drinks a day had an 8 percent reduced risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke. Heavier drinking, however, increased stroke risk. Having up to four daily drinks led to an 8 percent increased risk of ischemic stroke, and at more than four drinks, the risk increased by 14 percent.

Dried blood can be tested for leukemia

A rare but treatable form of cancer can be diagnosed cheaply and easily with dried blood spots instead of whole blood, scientists have announced. The new test for chronic myeloid leukemia can be run with a few dime-size spots on a paper card that can be mailed to a center for diagnosis. Dr. Jerald Radich, a leukemia specialist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said that since his lab developed the test, cards have arrived by mail and in luggage from Africa and Asia, still useful after heat, cold and weeks in transit. Chronic myeloid leukemia, which in poor countries is often diagnosed late, “was once a death sentence,” Radich said. But new drugs have kept many patients in remission for years.

Bowel-kidney link possible, study finds

Constipation may increase the risk for kidney disorders, research has found. Researchers reviewed the medical records of 3.5 million U.S. military veterans who had normal kidney function at the start of the analysis. Some had been given a diagnosis of constipation, and they ranked its severity by how often they used laxatives. The scientists found 360,541 cases of chronic kidney disease and 7,677 cases of kidney failure over the course of the retrospective study. People with constipation had an average 13 percent higher risk of kidney disease and a 9 percent increased risk of kidney failure.

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