Daily Archives: April 4, 2010

Women may need at least an hour of exercise daily to avoid weight gain

Here’s a bad news story to post the day after the Easter holiday — a day when many of us consume more calories that we should. Nevertheless, being committed to always bring you the truth about the medical news you can use, here we go: A major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that without making significant changes in their nutritional habits, women need a lot of exercise just to keep their weight stable.

The AP reports that investigators found that “at least an hour of moderate activity a day is needed for older women at a healthy weight who aren’t dieting,” and overweight women require “even more exercise … to avoid gaining weight without eating less.”

The researchers “said it’s uncertain whether the results would apply to men.” (Whew!)

As they age, people often put on weight. This is “partly because their metabolism slows down,” but the study’s lead author said that it “probably” has more to do with “people’s natural tendency to become more sedentary, without changing their eating habits.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that “the issue of how much exercise is required to maintain a normal weight is far from settled,” with other exercise experts saying “that an average of 35 minutes a day, seven days a week, is probably sufficient.”

The Boston Globe reports, “Lee doesn’t want people to give up on exercise, even if they can’t do an hour a day,” calling it “the best thing you can do for your health.”

USA Today reports that Lee “emphasizes that it’s possible to get the health benefits of physical activity, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, some types of cancers and type 2 diabetes, by following the government guidelines and doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.”

But, ladies, don’t let this discourage you. For as I’ve said before, some physical activity is better than none, and there’s no better time than now (the day after Easter) to start increasing what you are already doing – if anything.

So, if you’re ready to become more highly healthy and happy, why not order a copy of my new book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and Staying Highly Healthy. You can see the Table of Contents here, and read the first chapter here. Also, there’s a small-group reader’s guide available for no charge here.

Teen pot use linked to psychosis

Australian researchers have identified a possible link between long-term marijuana use And psychoses in teens in a study of nearly 4,000 young people. The use of marijuana was associated with an increased risk of hallucinations, delusions and other psychoses.

In the study, whose findings were published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers at the University of Queensland followed 3,801 people born in Brisbane between 1981 and 1984.

About 17.7 percent reported using cannabis for three or fewer years, 16.2 percent for four to five years and 14.3 percent for six or more years.

Those who had six or more years of use were twice as likely as those who never used cannabis to develop a psychosis, such as schizophrenia, and four times as likely to get high scores in clinical tests of delusion.

Of the 1,272 subjects who had never used marijuana, 26 (2 percent) were diagnosed with psychosis. Of the 322 who had used it for six years or more, 12 (3.7 percent) were diagnosed with the illness.

The authors point out that further study is needed as their research did not take into account such factors as family history and a predisosition to psychosis before marijuana use began.

However, encouraging your kids to avoid all illicit drugs, including marijuana, is a step toward helping them become and stay highly healthy. By the way, you can mean more about marijuana in my book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook.

Long-term marijuana use can double risk of psychosis in young people

Young people who smoke cannabis or marijuana for six years or more are twice as likely to have psychotic episodes, hallucinations or delusions than people who have never used the drug according to recent research. The findings adds weight to previous research which linked psychosis with the drug — particularly in its most potent form as “skunk” — and will feed the debate about the level of controls over its use. (BTW, I have an entire chapter analyzing marijuana in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook.)

Here are some of the details of the research from Reuters Health: Despite laws against it, up to 190 million people around the world use cannabis, according to United Nations estimates, equating to about 4 percent of the adult population.

John McGrath of the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia studied more than 3,801 men and women born between 1981 and 1984 and followed them up after 21 years to ask about their cannabis use and assessed them for psychotic episodes. Around 18 percent reported using cannabis for three or fewer years, 16 percent for four to five years and 14 percent for six or more years.

“Compared with those who had never used cannabis, young adults who had six or more years since first use of cannabis were twice as likely to develop a non-affective psychosis (such as schizophrenia),” McGrath wrote in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal.

They were also four times as likely to have high scores in clinical tests of delusion, he wrote, and a so-called “dose-response” relationship showed that the longer the duration since first cannabis use, the higher the risk of psychosis-related symptoms.

A study by British scientists last year suggested that people who smoke skunk, a potent form of cannabis, are almost seven times more likely to develop psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia than those who smoke “hash” or cannabis resin.

Previous studies had also suggested smoking cannabis can double the risk of psychosis, but the British study was the first to look specifically at skunk. Skunk has higher amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC which can produce psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.

McGrath said, however, that “the nature of the relationship between psychosis and cannabis use is by no means simple” and more research was needed to examine the mechanisms at work.

As part of his study, McGrath and his team looked at links between cannabis use and psychotic symptoms among a group of 228 sibling pairs and found the association still held. This suggests other influences like genes or the environment were less likely to be responsible for the psychosis, they said.

A international group of drug policy experts published a book earlier this year arguing that laws against cannabis have failed to cut its use but instead led to vast numbers of arrests for drug possession in countries like Britain, Switzerland and the United States, which cause social division and pointless government expense.