Tag Archives: health

Exercise Cuts the Risk for 13 Cancers

Higher levels of leisure-time physical activity are associated with a significantly lower risk of developing a number of cancers, the results of a pooled analysis of data from more than a million Europeans and Americans reveal.

The findings, published online May 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine, indicate that higher levels of physical activity reduced the risk of developing cancer in 13 of the 26 cancers reviewed.

For that group of 13 cancers, the risk reduction ranged from 10% to 42%.

The affected cancers were esophageal adenocarcinoma (hazard ratio [HR], 0.58), liver cancer (HR, 0.73), lung cancer (HR, 0.74), kidney cancer (HR, 0.77), gastric cardia cancer (HR, 0.78), endometrial cancer (HR, 0.79), myeloid leukemia (HR, 0.80), myeloma (HR, 0.83), colon cancer (HR, 0.84), head and neck cancer (HR, 0.85), rectal cancer (HR, 0.87), bladder cancer (HR, 0.87), and breast cancer (HR, 0.90).

The cancers with risk not positively affected by physical activity included those of the prostate and melanoma.

“These findings support promoting activity as a key component of population-wide cancer prevention and control efforts,” say the researchers.

In an accompanying editorial, Marilie D. Gammon, PhD, Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, described the findings as “exciting,” because they “underscore the importance of leisure-time physical activity as a potential risk-reduction strategy to decrease the cancer burden in the United States and abroad.”

She emphasizes the need for further research into the underlying mechanisms for the association between physical activity and cancer and into the critical timing of exposure to exercise, as well as the types and amounts of activity that have the most impact.

Lead researcher Steven C. Moore, PhD, MPH, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, told Medscape Medical News that three mechanisms have been proposed to relate physical activity to lower cancer risk.

The first, he explained, is via sex hormones. Previous studies have shown, for example, that estrogens occur in lower levels in physically active women. “The second hypothesis is related to insulin, which is that active people have lower levels of insulin, and insulin itself maybe a cancer risk factor,” he said.

The third is connected to inflammation, with studies indicating that exercise is linked to lower levels of inflammatory markers, and that inflammation “is a general cancer risk factor.”

Although it appears from the current findings that the relationship between physical activity and cancer risk is strongest for gastroesophageal and hematologic cancers, it was not possible to determine which of the hypotheses most lends itself to explaining the association.

Dr Moore said: “It’s hard to pin it down exactly, because in the ideal study, you would want to have physical activity as well as those inflammatory factors measured and the cancer outcome, and nobody’s done that study.”

The findings nevertheless strengthen recommendations on minimum activity levels, because the message that exercise reduces cancer risk can be added to that for cardiovascular disease.

Dr Moore noted: “In terms of getting people to be active, it depends on the number of communities and the number of constituencies that are invested in pushing it as a public health message.”

For him, the study “at least in part aligns the evidence for cancer with the evidence for heart disease.”

Dr Moore said: “In other words, there’s enough evidence now to suggest that physical activity may be an important part of cancer prevention and control messages, so that it can be pushed within that research community, and not just within that research community but perhaps also that advocacy community.”

For the analysis, the researchers pooled data from 12 prospective cohorts from Europe and the United States that included self-reported physical activity, yielding a total of 1.44 million individuals (median age, 59 years).

Because different measures of physical activity were used across the studies, the team converted activity to metabolic equivalents (METs), with exercise of moderate intensity defined as 3 or more METs. The median activity level was the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity, or the equivalent combination.

Higher activity levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with younger age, more education, lower body mass index (BMI), and lower likelihood of being a current smoker.

During a median follow-up of 11 years, there were 186,932 incident cases of cancer.

The researchers found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 1.05) and malignant melanoma (HR, 1.27). Further analysis showed that the latter was statistically significant only in US regions where there are higher levels of solar ultraviolet radiation (HR, 1.26).

There were suggestions of associations between increased physical activity and reduced risk for gallbladder cancer, small intestine cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

It was estimated that physical activity was associated with an overall 7% reduction in the risk of developing cancer (HR, 0.93).

Although BMI reduced the association for several cancers, 10 of the inverse associations remained significant after adjustment. Smoking modified the association only for lung cancer.

Editorialist Dr Gammon told Medscape Medical News that the pooled analysis has strengthened the evidence for an association between physical activity and some of the rarer cancers. “It’s really nice to be able to put it all together, because each of the individual studies were underpowered,” she said.

She believes that the intensity and duration of physical activity needed to lower cancer risk is likely to be tumor specific. “For instance, it was so much easier for us to figure out that physical activity was related to colon cancer, but it was much, much harder to do it with breast, and I’m thinking it’s possible that it could be related to dose and intensity.”

She added: “I think we’re going to need to do more individual type studies to try to really nail that down better, but right now, I would say the best evidence is what the CDC is recommending.”

Dr Gammon concluded that it is “really hopeful” to have the possibility of “such a good strategy to be able to reduce the risk of developing cancers, because some of the cancers on that list are very rare and very deadly.”

The study was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health. The work reflected in the editorial was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health. The authorsand editorialists have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 16, 2016.

Memory as Ministry in the Age of Alzheimer’s

Biblical ministry is not limited to the ordained ministry. Based on the “priesthood of believers,” all Christians are called to minister.

Marketplace ministry, social justice and charitable work are examples of such ministries. But have you heard of a ministry called “memory?”

It appears that there is a legitimate ministry that can be called “remembering.” In this age of great concern about the increasing number of people being afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, which profoundly affects memory, I consider this a sobering revelation.

The Bible speaks much about God and man in relation to memory and remembrance. God remembers His covenant (Ex. 6:5). He does not remember our forgiven sins (Is. 43:25), but remembers righteous individuals—both men and women. Noah, Abraham and Hannah are examples.

We are told not to forget God’s dealings with us, but to remember them, and to pass on the memory to a new generation (Deut. 11:19). Israel was instructed not to forget that they were slaves in Egypt (Deut. 16: 12), and to remember the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8). The psalmist instructs us not to forget “all His benefits” (Ps. 34:2).

Memory is at the heart of Christian theology. The undisputed instruction of Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed was to “do this in remembrance of me.” The ordinances of the most independent faith groups are built on remembrance! Noticeably, theologian Henri Nouwen defined ministry as being a living reminder of Jesus.

Memory is a matter of great interest and special concern to Saint Paul. He tells us to remember Jesus (2 Tim. 2: 8). He instructs further: Remember the poor (Gal. 2:10); “Remember my chains,” (Col. 4:18). The author of Hebrews adds: “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3). “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you” (Heb. 13:7).

In Paul’s writings, the ministry of memory is strongly related to prayer. “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith” (1 Thess. 1:3). “I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Tim. 1:3). “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Phil. 1:3). “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:16). “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers” (Philem. 1:4).

What a powerful ministry! Anyone with the ability to remember can do this ministry. There are no geographical limitations! Words may not even be needed for this ministry. Believers of all nations, tribes and tongues can engage in this ministry of memory and remembrance, a ministry in which we connect our memory of each other to God.

The ministry of memory is not only about those who are living. Certainly, the leaders we are expected to remember according to Hebrews 13:7 are not all alive. Some have finished their course and have gone to be with the Lord. They don’t need our prayers, only our grateful memory.

As a person raised in a pastor’s home in South India, I remember people outside my family who have touched my life in profound ways. Some of them are alive, others have finished their race. A Hindu woman was forced to give up her eyes to follow Jesus. A retired teacher found time to teach me English hymns. Church members shared their modest means with their pastor’s kid. Preachers let me carry their Bibles. Classmates left an imprint on my life. The list is long.

A young cancer patient I visited three decades ago is also on my list. I was a chaplain at the City of Faith Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then. The patient was a born-again Christian who had no family members to visit her. Her mother and grandmother had died from the same disease, her father was dead, and she had no siblings. She lived alone and kept her sickness a secret as long as she could, due to fear. According to the doctors, the prognosis was not good because by the time she came to the hospital, the disease had progressed significantly.

One day she asked me during a pastoral visit, “I have no family left. I don’t know how long I will live. Can I ask you for a favor?” Thinking that she would ask for some practical help, I said, “Of course, what can I do for you?” She asked, “Would you remember me once I am gone?” Moved by her unexpected request, I said, “Certainly. I will remember you.” She thanked me.

I have seen many answers to prayers. I have witnessed both instant and gradual healings, but this was not the case with the young cancer patient. She passed away the following night.

There are times when all you can give others is your prayers and your memory! Sometimes God answers the prayers immediately. Other times, the answers come slowly. In some cases, the answer is not what one expects. In any case, we must pray, and we must remember.

The threat of Alzheimer’s disease reminds us that memory is a gift. How wonderful it would be if all of us could use this gift as a means of ministry!

Thomson K. Mathew, D.Min., Ed.D., is professor of pastoral care and dean of the College of Theology and Ministry at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Source: http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26287-memory-as-ministry-in-the-age-of-alzheimer-s

How Reading Can Transform Your Health


“As weird as it sounds, reading “War and Peace” put me back in control of my life—and that’s why it’s my favourite book.”

In How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health, Michael Grothaus says, “Reading doesn’t just improve your knowledge, it can help fight depression, make you more confident, empathetic and a better decision-maker.”

Grothaus’ life was in a rut … until he read War and Peace. Its 1,500 pages took him two months to conquer and immediately became his favourite book because of how it changed him. “It’s almost impossible to explain why,” he says “but after reading it I felt more confident in myself, less uncertain about my future. … As weird as it sounds, reading War and Peace put me back in control of my life—and that’s why it’s my favourite book.”

But Grothaus’ further research into reading revealed that such a transformation through reading wasn’t weird but ‘the norm for people who read a lot—and one of the main benefits of reading that most people don’t know about.” What else did he discover?

  • Reading for pleasure can help prevent conditions such as stress, depression and dementia.
  • Reading can offer richer, broader and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding.
  • Reading about other characters and situations helps you to look at life’s challenges from a renewed perspective.
  • People who read find it easier to make decisions, plan and prioritise, because they are more able to recognise that difficulty and setback are unavoidable aspects of human life.
  • People who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers.
  • Being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.
  • People who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.
  • Despite reading being a solitary experience, research shows that reading improves empathy and increases social support.
  • A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76 percent of them said that reading improves their life and helps to make them feel good.

Grothaus goes on to give four tips on how to overcome obstacles to reading in our distracted and over-committed lives (see here).

But if reading secular books can have such life-transforming benefit, how much more will a wide range of good spiritual books transform our lives and even our eternity.

“From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

David Murray

Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 4 months to 17 years old, and they love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.More from David Murray or visit David at http://headhearthand.org/blog/

Source: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/259456-reading-can-transform-health.html