Science and Medicine

Smoking Snuffs Out ‘Good’ Cholesterol

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, contributing to more than one-third of deaths from heart disease annually, according to a 2008 estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A toxic compound in cigarette smoke slows the production of “good” cholesterol, new research shows.

Cigarette smoking’s association with heart disease has been known for decades, but researchers have not been certain what chemicals or molecular processes in the body form the basis of that link. The new findings concerning the effect of benzo(a)pyrene on high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, are published in the journal Life Sciences.

“Smoking-related health hazards are well-recognized, and the role of smoking in promoting premature heart disease is widely appreciated,” said Arshag D. Mooradian, senior author of the study and a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville. “The novelty in our study is the finding of yet another mechanism by which smoking can accelerate heart disease through reduction of the ‘good’ cholesterol that normally protects the heart.”

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Survey Says Child Inactivity is Top Health Risk

Lack of exercise is No. 1 in a top 10 list of health concerns facing kids, according to a survey of adults across the United States..

Lack of exercise is No. 1 in a top 10 list of health concerns facing kids, according to a survey of adults across the United States.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health offers its annual top 10 list, in which a nationwide sample of adults was asked to identify the top 10 biggest health concerns for kids in their communities.

For the first time, not enough exercise was rated by most adults at the top of the list (39 percent). That was followed closely by childhood obesity (38 percent), and smoking and tobacco use (34 percent).

“Childhood obesity remains a top concern, and adults know it is certainly linked to lack of exercise,” says Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. “The strong perception that lack of exercise is a threat to children’s health may reflect effective recent public health messages from programs such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

“But adequate exercise offers many more benefits other than weight loss or preventing obesity—such as better attention and learning in school and improved sense of well-being,” says Davis, associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

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Diabetes More Deadly for Normal-Weight Adults

American adults of normal weight with new-onset diabetes are more likely to die than overweight and obese adults with the same disease.

American adults of normal weight with new-onset diabetes are more likely to die than overweight and obese adults with the same disease, according to a new study.

The study, published in the August 7 issue of JAMA, finds that normal-weight participants experienced both significantly higher total and noncardiovascular mortality than overweight or obese participants.

Normal-weight adults with type 2 diabetes have been understudied because those who typically develop the disease are overweight or obese. In this study, about 10 percent of those with new-onset diabetes were at a normal weight when they found out they had the disease.

Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity, and age may play a role.

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