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Health Capsules: Addicted to phones

A study at Baylor University showed that for some people, cellphone use is an addictive behavior.

A study at Baylor University showed that for some people, cellphone use is an addictive behavior.

Addicted to phones

A Baylor University researcher said he was astounded at the findings of his study on college student cellphone use:  College women spend an average of 10 hours a day and male students spend nearly eight hours a day on cellphones.

Researcher James Roberts’ survey of 164 college students found that overall, students spend the most time texting (about 94 minutes per day), sending emails (nearly 50 minutes), checking Facebook (nearly 40 minutes), surfing the Internet (about 35 minutes) and listening to music (about 26 minutes).

In addition to asking about specific cellphone activities, the survey measured possible addiction to the devices by asking students to respond to statements such as, “I get agitated when my cellphone is not in sight” and, “I find that I am spending more and more time on my cellphone.” Roughly 60 percent of college students admitted they might be addicted to their phones.

Phone functions found to be “associated significantly with cellphone addiction” included Pinterest and Instagram. Perhaps surprisingly, gaming and Internet use were not associated with addictive behavior.

The study, “The Invisible Addiction: Cellphone Activities and Addiction among Male and Female College Students,” was published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.


Beating high blood pressure

New research suggests that dairy products contribute to healthier blood pressure readings.

At a recent scientific session in France, researchers reported that an analysis of studies involving more than 57,000 people revealed that as total dairy, low-fat dairy and milk consumption increase, the risk for high blood pressure decreases.

According to the doctor who led the study, results indicate that drinking slightly more than two cups of milk a day is associated with a reduced incidence of hypertension. The findings were in line with a clinical trial published earlier this year that showed adding four servings of nonfat dairy a day to a typical diet lowered blood pressure in middle-aged and older adults.

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For a person of normal weight, gaining a few pounds might not seem like a big deal, but even a small weight gain can be enough to raise a person’s blood pressure, according to research presented this month at an American Heart Association meeting.

“To our knowledge, for the first time, we showed that the blood pressure increase was specifically related to increases in abdominal visceral fat, which is fat inside the abdomen,” Mayo Clinic researcher Naima Covassin, lead author of a study designed to gauge the health impact of gaining five to 11 pounds, said in an American Heart Association news release. “Our research suggests that healthy people who are more likely to gain weight in the stomach area are also more likely to have their blood pressure increased.”

For the study, researchers took blood pressure readings on normal-weight people aged 18-48 and fed them an extra 400-1,200 calories per day for eight weeks to increase their weight by about 5 percent. After gaining weight, participants’ blood pressure readings were recorded again, and on average, their systolic blood pressure (top number) rose from 114 mm Hg to 118 mm Hg. Participants who gained more weight inside the abdomen had a greater increase in blood pressure. The weight gain did not affect participants’ cholesterol, insulin or blood sugar levels.

“The public awareness of the adverse health effects of obesity is increasing; however, it seems most people are not aware of the risks of a few extra pounds,” Covassin said. “This is an important finding because a five- to seven-pound weight gain may be normal for many during the holiday season, the first year of college or even while on vacation.”


Aspirin for breast cancer

Overweight, postmenopausal women who receive hormone therapy to treat breast cancer fare better if they take aspirin or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), a preliminary study found.

Linda deGraffenried, a cancer researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, analyzed data on nearly 450 women with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer, the most common form of the disease. Most of the women were either overweight or obese, and many were taking aspirin.

“A large majority of those were taking (aspirin) at the low-dose, baby aspirin level, and even at this level, they were showing benefit,” deGraffenried said.

The benefit was a 50 percent reduction in the breast cancer recurrence rate and a more than two-year extension of patients’ disease-free period.

Although the findings are preliminary and further research is needed to confirm results, the study is significant, as postmenopausal breast cancer patients who are overweight or obese have a comparatively higher risk of disease recurrence.

Women should consult their doctors before starting an aspirin regimen, deGraffenried said.

The National Institutes of Health supported the study, which was published in the journal Cancer Research.


Obesity by state

Missouri is among 20 U.S. states where the prevalence of obesity is 30 percent or greater, according to new information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The latest CDC map showing the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. shows that obesity rates remained high nationwide in 2013, with no state having an obesity prevalence of less than 20 percent. The data is based on self-reported height and weight, and obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

Obesity rates were highest in the South (30.2 percent), followed by the Midwest (30.1 percent), the Northeast (26.5 percent) and the West (24.9 percent). Estimated rates ranged from 21.3 percent in Colorado to 35.1 percent in Mississippi and West Virginia. The prevalence of obesity in the Show-Me State was 30.4 percent.

Additional information can be found at cdc.gov.


On the calendar

St. Luke’s Hospital presents “Spirit Girls’ Night Out: Good Health is Always in Style” from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9 at the St. Louis Marriott West, 600 Maryville Centre Drive in Creve Coeur. The event features mini-makeovers and massages; health screenings; a physician panel discussion; a shopping boutique; appetizers, cocktails and desserts; and prizes. Admission is $25 prior to Oct. 3 and $30 thereafter. Registration is required for the event, which sells out every year. Visit stlukes-stl.com, or call (314) 205-6706.


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