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Belly fat increases risk of death among normal-weight people
Date: 2012-08-28 20:02:08

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic discovered that people who have a normal weight but a high amount of fat in their bellies have a higher risk of dying compared to individuals who are obese. These results may be relevant to people who need a blood test to assess their cardiovascular and metabolic health.

For the study, the researchers reviewed medical data collected from nearly 13,000 adults aged 18 or older. These subjects were divided into three groups according to body mass index, as well as two categories based on waist-to-hip ratios.

Among those who had a normal body mass index, the risks of cardiovascular death and mortality from all causes were 2.75 times and 2.08 times higher for subjects who had central obesity, respectively.

"The high risk of death may be related to a higher visceral fat accumulation in this group, which is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors, the limited amount of fat located on the hips and legs, which is fat with presumed protective effects, and to the relatively limited amount of muscle mass," said researcher Karine Sahakyan, M.D., Ph.D.

People who have a normal body mass index but are still concerned about their cardiovascular and metabolic health may undergo a blood test to make sure they are healthy.

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Micronutrients may boost quality of older men's sperm
Date: 2012-08-29 19:28:34

Blood testing to measure nutrient levels can help inform men of whether they are consuming enough vitamins and minerals. Such information may guide health-related decisions. For example, new research from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that a high intake of different micronutrients may make the sperm quality of older men comparable to that of younger men.

These results are significant in light of current trends that see men fathering babies past the age of 35. As they get older, the sperm that they produce tend to acquire more DNA damage, increasing the risk that their children are born with conditions such as dwarfism.

In order to understand whether diet could improve sperm quality, a team of scientists conducted an experiment on 80 men aged 20 to 80 years. In addition to providing sperm samples, the subjects also answered questionnaires concerning their daily intake of certain nutrients.

"It appears that consuming more micronutrients such as vitamin C, E, folate and zinc helps turn back the clock for older men. We found that men 44 and older who consumed at least the recommended dietary allowance of certain micronutrients had sperm with a similar amount of DNA damage as the sperm of younger men," said lead researcher Andy Wyrobek.

However, these effects were not observed in younger subjects.

Older men who are thinking of having children may want to consider blood testing to measure their levels of various micronutrients.

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Stress may elevate stroke risk
Date: 2012-08-30 20:54:10

A blood test that assesses one's stroke risk profile could inform an individual's decisions about making lifestyle adjustments in order to prevent a major event. These modifications may include stress management, as new research published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry suggests that chronic stress, as well as type A personality traits, may increase the likelihood of a stroke.

Although stress has been linked to heart disease, little was known about its connection to stroke. In order to investigate further, a team of scientists conducted an experiment that included 150 adults who had been admitted to the stroke unit of a hospital, and 300 adults who served as healthy controls.

Study participants underwent assessments for personality, mental health, lifestyle choices and physical risk factors, such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Results showed that subjects who experienced a major life event in the previous year had a four-fold increase in stroke risk. The odds were tripled for those with heart rhythm disturbances and daytime sleepiness. The chances of a stroke were doubled for individuals who smoked, drank at least two energy drinks a day or had type A personality traits, which include aggression, impatience and a quick temper.

Men were nine times more likely than women to have a stroke.

Individuals who wonder about their personal risks should consider taking a blood test to find out more.

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Consumption of chocolate may decrease likelihood of stroke in men
Date: 2012-08-30 21:48:31

Individuals who take a blood test to assess their risk of stroke may make certain lifestyle adjustments, such as dietary changes, in order to prevent such an event. New research from Sweden suggests that eating moderate amounts of chocolate - the equivalent of one-third of a cup of chocolate chips - every week may decrease men's risk of a stroke.

This conclusion is based on a study of more than 37,000 men aged 49 to 75, all of whom filled out questionnaires about the frequency with which they ate certain foods, including chocolate.

After about 10 years, the scientists calculated that those who ate the highest amounts of chocolate were 17 percent less likely to experience a stroke, compared to those who never consumed this food.

Furthermore, a review of five other studies indicated that the likelihood of stroke in men fell by 14 percent for every 50-gram increase of weekly chocolate consumption.

"While other studies have looked at how chocolate may help cardiovascular health, this is the first of its kind study to find that chocolate, may be beneficial for reducing stroke in men," said study author Susanna Larsson, Ph.D.

These effects may be due to substances in chocolate that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Men who undergo a blood test to measure their stroke risk should discuss any lifestyle modifications with their healthcare provider.

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Nutrition may affect adolescents' fitness levels
Date: 2012-08-13 15:01:15
For parents who are worried about their children's health status, blood testing can reveal information about factors such as cholesterol, blood sugar and nutrient deficiencies. New research suggests that low levels of certain vitamins and minerals may be associated with poor physical fitness among adolescents.... Full Story

College students need to be careful of weight gain
Date: 2012-08-02 14:28:21
Individuals who have weight problems should consider regular blood testing to assess their cardiovascular risks. According to one dietitian, this may include individuals who are about to enter their first year of college. This population tends not to have the best health habits.... Full Story

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