Weight-Bearing Exercises Promote Bone Formation in Men

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Human hormone and protein linked to bone mass are impacted by 12 months of targeted exercise

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide and is a serious public health concern, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Now, Pamela Hinton, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, has published the first study in men to show that long-term, weight-bearing exercises decrease sclerostin, a protein made in the bone, and increase IGF-1, a hormone associated with bone growth. These changes promote bone formation, increasing bone density.

“People may be physically active, and many times people know they need to exercise to prevent obesity, heart disease or diabetes,” Hinton said. “However, you also really need to do specific exercises to protect your bone health.”

In the study, men 25- to 60-years-old who had low-bone mass were split into two groups. One group performed resistance training exercises such as lunges and squats using free weights. The other group performed various types of jumps, such as single-leg and double-leg jumps. After 12 months of performing the exercises, Hinton then compared the levels of bone proteins and hormones in the blood.

“We saw a decrease in the level of sclerostin in both of these exercise interventions in men,” Hinton said. “When sclerostin is expressed at high levels, it has a negative impact on bone formation. In both resistance and jump training, the level of sclerostin in the bone goes down, which triggers bone formation.”

The other significant change Hinton observed was an increase in the hormone IGF-1. Unlike sclerostin, IGF-1 triggers bone growth. The decrease of harmful sclerostin levels and the increase in beneficial IGF-1 levels confirmed Hinton’s prior research that found both resistance training and jump training have beneficial effects on bone growth.

To increase bone mass and prevent osteoporosis, Hinton recommends exercising specifically to target bone health. While exercises such as swimming and cycling are beneficial to overall health, these activities do not strengthen the skeleton. Hinton suggests also doing exercise targeted for bone health, such as resistance training and jump training.

The study, “Serum sclerostin decreases following 12 months of resistance- or jump-training in men with low bone mass,” was published in Bone.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-03/uom-wep032217.php

 

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Muscles Fight Cancer – The Science Behind Outmuscling Cancer

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Written by: Colin Champ, MD

Several years back a scientific article revealed that those of us with high “muscular strength” have a lower risk of becoming a victim to cancer – a 40% lower risk to be exact.1 After assessment of almost 9,000 men aged 20-82, scientists found that men with a stronger one-rep max on bench press and leg press have a 40% reduction in their risk of dying from cancer. They adjusted for body mass index (BMI), body fat, and cardiorespiratory fitness and the results still held strong (pun intended).2 In other words, there is something about simply being stronger that can lower our risk of getting cancer. Many felt as though there was something innately healthy about having more muscles, but another study associated weak hand grip strength with an increased risk of cancer, even regardless of muscle size.3 So is it all about strength or do muscles fight cancer?

Strength goes beyond lowering our risk of dying from cancer; it lowers our risk of dying from most major health issues. For instance, men exhibiting a lower vertical leap, less sit-ups, and decreased grip strength have a higher risk of dying period.4Men and women with moderate and high bench press and sit-up scores have lower risks of death,5 while men with a higher 1-repetition bench and leg press apparently live longer (even when we account for other health issues, like cardiovascular disease, smoking, obesity, etc.).6

Muscles Fight Cancer – More Muscles = More Health?

The first thought that comes to mind is that more muscles means more strength, and both are a result of more exercise. Sure enough, when we take a close look through these studies, we do see that the strongest among us have less body fat, are in better shape, and have better “good” cholesterol values with lower blood sugar and triglycerides.1 This is not surprising.

However, in nearly all these “muscles fight cancer” studies, other health issues were adjusted for and the findings still held. In other words, these studies seem to suggest that strength is independently associated with a lower risk of cancer and a higher change of avoiding an untimely death, regardless of age, smoking, alcohol usage, or other health issues. But as we know, associations can only take us so far, before we must explore the mechanism that support these associations.

Muscles Fight Cancer – It’s the Muscles!

In the study above, the scientists found some intriguing results: the benefits of muscular strength overlap with cardiovascular fitness, but the benefits of muscular strength in decreasing the risk of cancer death work through different mechanisms.1Perhaps the synergy exists, or in other words, having more muscle and strength is good, and exercising them is better.

For instance, we know that exercising our muscles leads to:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity (less insulin needed to remove sugar from our blood)
  • More sugar extracted from our blood by skeletal muscle and used for energy during exercise
  • Less cancer-promoting sugar and insulin floating around our blood
  • A decrease in the levels of hormones that, over a prolonged period, can lead to cancer. For instance, resistance training increases IGFBP-3, which binds to insulin-like growth factor (IGF), decreasing its ability to promote cancer (growth factors are normal within the human body, but too many can lead to excessive cellular growth, including cancer growth)7
  • Decreased inflammation (which when present, serves as a fertilizer for cancer)
  • Increased antioxidant defense, which helps fight potential cancer-causing free-radicals
  • Less inflammation-producing body fat

However, recent studies have changed much of our thinking when it comes to muscle. There are many organs in our body that respond to stimuli and secrete hormones, which serve as messages to direct remote parts of the body. We are recently starting to find some more unconventional organ-like structures in the body. For instance, it is now well-established that our adipose tissue works like an endocrine organ – albeit a bad one – secreting inflammatory hormones and an excess of potentially cancer-stimulating hormones.8 Take estrogen for example, which is a hormone that both men and women require to function normally. However, when supplied in higher than physiologically normal amounts from excess body fat, it can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. When women lose theses additional pounds through dietary changes and exercise, estrogen levels decrease.9

Studies have now shown that fat is not the only recently discovered endocrine organ. Muscle may act similarly, though this time to the benefit of our health. The metabolic muscular organ within us secretes IL-6, an important cytokine that was once felt to be a bad guy that caused inflammation. Newer studies reveal that IL-6 has a healthy role and is actually a myokine, which is an endocrine hormone produced by muscle (myo = muscle) and released during contraction. In other words, while fat secretes harmful hormones, muscles squeeze out some healthy hormones during lifting.

Muscles Fight Cancer – The Physiologic Benefits of Having More Muscle

As discussed above, exercise has plenty of benefits. However, contracting our muscles during running, resistance training, or simply heavy lifting provides benefits that are entirely separate from those of exercise.

For instance, while fat tissue secretes the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α (which stands for tumor necrosis factor since our immune cells secrete it in the presence of tumor cells), our muscles secrete IL-6, which fights inflammation. As bad as fat is generally considered, muscle seems to stand in direct opposition to fat physiologically, and TNF versus IL-6 further embodies this difference.

  • Adipose-derived TNF is inflammatory, while muscle-derived IL-6 is anti-inflammatory.
  • Muscle-derived IL-6 signals to our body to break down lipids and burn fat.10
  • Adipose-derived TNF causes insulin resistance and impairs glucose uptake by our cells (both leading to increased blood sugar).11
  • While serious and often fatal events like septic shock cause a sudden release of TNF, excess adipose tissue causes the chronic release of harmful TNF.
  • Muscle-derived IL-6 helps regulate AMPK (while muscle contraction directly activates AMPK), which stimulates the breakdown of fat and cholesterol, stimulates our mitochondria, and potentially fights cancer.12

 

AMPK, or AMP-activated protein kinase, is an enzyme extensively expressed in our muscles, liver, and brain. It serves as an energy sensor and regulator and closely monitors changes in energy status based on our dietary and lifestyle habits. ATP, the energy currency of our cells, is broken down to AMP by our cells. ATP has three phosphates (the T is for tri) and when it loses one becomes ADP (the D is for di, or two) and when it loses two phosphates it becomes AMP (the M is for mono). Without dipping too deep into boredom territory:

ATP → ADP + P

ATP → AMP + 2P

AMPK works to supply more ATP and increase our available energy molecules. AMPK achieves this through several mechanisms described in the picture below. The dark blue mechanisms involve breaking down glucose (sugar) to burn for energy. This can be done by pulling glucose out of our blood stream and into our cells to be consumed. The aqua circles represent the breaking down of cholesterol and fat to be used as an efficient source of energy. The purple includes building more mitochondria to use these fats and sugars to make more energy, and the light blue mechanisms turn off cell building and replication.

 

Basically, AMPK signals to our body and cells that it is not a time for building, but rather for breaking down.

AMPK and Cancer

 

AMPK is, in essence, the antithesis of cancer. While cancer cells are burning large amounts of glucose and nutrients, this is mostly to build up biomass – or simply put to keep growing and spreading. AMPK, on the other hand, shuts off this process, blocking cancer growth so we can feed our own cells.12,13 As you can see in the picture to the right, AMPK actually blocks mTOR, a pathway that leads to cancer survival and growth.14 This is the same pathway that is blocked with targeted cancer drugs. You will also notice that the pathways are all affected by intermittent fasting, labeled as “IF,” as this is a state of energy scarcity.  You may also notice that increased insulin sensitivity, which happens though exercise and muscle contraction, also appears to upregulate AMPK.

AMPK and Warburg

The Warburg hypothesis is something that comes up often when dealing with cancer and metabolism. Briefly put, Warburg showed that regardless of the presence of oxygen, cancer cells prefer to use glucose for energy derivation (through a process known as glycolysis). In our normal cells, preference is given to the mitochondria for energy production, as it is significantly more efficient. While AMPK may stop several pro-cancer pathways, newer data shows that it actually blocks the Warburg Effect, by blocking the ability of cancer cells to use sugar for energy.15

AMPK is upregulated via several mechanisms (in no apparent order):

  1. Muscle contraction during exercise,16,17 with the more intense exercise resulting in increased expression of AMPK18
  2. Carbohydrate restriction (with or without fasting and even in the face of an increase in calories)19
  3. Intermittent fasting20

Inflammation is the fertilizer of cancer cells; it fosters an environment where normal cells can turn cancerous and cancer cells can grow with less effort. Inflammation has recently been labeled a “hallmark of cancer cells.”21 Any method to decrease this inflammation can provide health benefits, and even decrease the risk of cancer. When muscles are contracted, they release IL-6 and several other hormonal signals that act to decrease inflammation. These “signals” alert other organs that energy status is down, stimulating processes like AMPK,22 leading to a state of breaking down components for energy instead of stimulating growth processes like cancer. In other words, our muscles are creating signals that act at distant places within the body. These signals are plenty, but one of the more famous is when muscles signal to our bones to grow stronger23 – one of the many reasons why weight training strengthens bones.24 In a sense, the way in which our muscles “talk” with the rest of our body is only one of the many ways in which they improve our health, and ultimately, help in the fight against cancer.

Muscles Fight Cancer – The Physiologic Benefits of Lifting Weights

While our muscle cells (myocytes) secrete IL-6 at baseline, exercise increases this release up to 100 times.25 Those of us that exercise and contract our muscles frequently experience a sensitization to IL-6 when not exercising and at rest.26 While excess fat tissue desensitizes us to the action of insulin (i.e. more insulin is needed to get rid of extra blood sugar), increasing harmful amounts of blood sugar, contracting our muscle sensitizes us to the benefits of muscle-derived IL-6.

The amount of IL-6 produced depends on several factors,27 including:

  • Intensity of the exercise
  • Duration of the exercise
  • Endurance capacity
  • Size of muscle contracting
As a side note, carb-loading before exercise appears to oppose this effect, blunting IL-6 release from the muscle, perhaps paying homage to our ancient times of exercise, which was often hunting for wild game on an empty stomach.28

Countering the benefits of weight-lifting are the harms of inactivity, which, much like excess body fat, increases background inflammation.29 Exercise is such a powerful anti-inflammatory, that it offsets the potential inflammatory damage from injection of the toxin E. coli into healthy volunteers. For instance, while E. coli normally causes doubling or tripling of harmful TNF, when injected during exercise, no increase occurs.30 Not surprisingly, trained athletes have lower levels of several inflammatory factors.31

Inflammation is the likely cause of or contributor to many diseases, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer. Oxidative (free radical) damage is also considered a major cause of disease and cancer.32 Much like inflammation, high levels of free radicals can damage our cells and DNA, exposing us to a higher risk of cancer. To counter this potential damage, our cells have spent millions of years developing a defense mechanism against free radicals – known as the antioxidant defense system – that creates a plethora of antioxidant compounds that can offset the harm of radicals.

When we place men on a regimen of muscle-activating resistance training twice a week, many of these antioxidant defense mechanisms are activated. For instance, glutathione peroxidase, which defuses the potential damage from free radicals that are bound to lipids, is increased. Mitochondrial and cytosolic superoxide dismutase – which break apart, or dismutase the potentially harmful free radical superoxide – are amplified. Interestingly, when weight lifting was compared to endurance training, the latter antioxidant mechanism was only increased by weight training.33 Muscle biopsies of legs after unilateral resistance training shows similar findings, that antioxidant defense mechanisms are boosted.34

Finally, while muscle and fat can be considered opposites by the hormones they produce, the same can be said about stimulated muscle versus inactivity. Muscle contraction releases large amounts of IL-6, which sensitizes our cells to its effect, resulting in less IL-6 circulating at rest. In other words, our cells get better at dealing with IL-6 and inflammation from exercise. Muscle-derived IL-6 is beneficial, but a constantly elevated amount of IL-6 can be inflammatory.

High levels of adipose tissue and inactivity lead to an opposite state when it comes to insulin. Both decrease insulin sensitivity, or in other words, more insulin is required to rid the blood of sugar, which eventually results in chronically elevated levels of circulating insulin and sugar within our blood. Both are unhealthy and can lead to cancer.35 Further closing the loop of association, exercise-derived IL-6 increases insulin sensitivity and can prevent this damaging state from inactivity and excessive body fat.

Muscles Fight Cancer – A Final Comment of Exercise, Blood Sugar and Cancer

Many people have recently questioned the benefit of exercise before or after a cancer diagnosis since it can result in elevated levels of blood glucose. This occurs when our body mobilizes available stores of glucose (from glycogen within the liver and muscles). As increased blood glucose levels correlate with an increased risk of several cancers,36 this may seem concerning on the surface. Furthermore, while IL-6 secreted from muscle increases the breakdown of fats and activation of the AMPK energy sensor can reduce the risk of cancer,37–39 the increase in PI3K, another pro-cancer pathway, is concerning.

Yet, these changes primarily occur in the muscle, which is using the mobilized glucose. Furthermore, the rise in blood sugar is transient (glucose levels drop by 30 minutes afterwards40), and as exercise and resistance training increases insulin sensitivity, overall we are left with a lower blood glucose and insulin level.41 The multitude of other physiologic changes that occur listed above provide an overwhelming anti-cancer benefit. This has played out in several recent studies, showing a decreased risk of breast cancer in women who exercise, with some data suggesting additional benefit from strenuous exercise.42,43 The benefits appear to be similar for women who were already diagnosed with breast cancer.44

Muscles Fight Cancer – Conclusions

Muscles fight cancer and strength is associated with a decreased risk of cancer. The conclusions are obvious: if you are physically able, lift more weights, build more muscle, and increase your strength. Do it safely, do it right, and do it periodically to ensure that you are “health cost averaging.” Flex your muscles and squeeze out the anti-inflammatory beneficial messengers that direct the rest of our body to be healthy.

I hope this article has convinced you to lift (or throw around) some weights, put on some muscle, and fight cancer. The added benefits are stronger bones, a better physique, and hopefully, a longer life.

It looks like muscles fight cancer, but to do so, they must be put to work.

Muscles Fight Cancer References

  1. Ruiz JR, Sui X, Lobelo F, et al. Muscular strength and adiposity as predictors of adulthood cancer mortality in men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18(5):1468-1476. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-1075.
  2. Ramírez-Vélez R, Correa-Bautista JE, Lobelo F, et al. High muscular fitness has a powerful protective cardiometabolic effect in adults: influence of weight status. BMC Public Health. 2016;16(1):1012. doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3678-5.
  3. Gale CR, Martyn CN, Cooper C, Sayer AA. Grip strength, body composition, and mortality. Int J Epidemiol. 2007;36(1):228-235. doi:10.1093/ije/dyl224.
  4. Fujita Y, Nakamura Y, Hiraoka J, et al. Physical-strength tests and mortality among visitors to health-promotion centers in Japan. J Clin Epidemiol. 1995;48(11):1349-1359. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7490598. Accessed January 3, 2017.
  5. FitzGerald SJ, Barlow CE, Kampert JB, Morrow JR, Jackson AW, Blair SN. Muscular Fitness and All-Cause Mortality: Prospective Observations. J Phys Act Heal. 2004;1(1):7-18. doi:10.1123/jpah.1.1.7.
  6. Ruiz JR, Sui X, Lobelo F, et al. Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2008;337.
  7. Izquierdo M, Ibañez J, González-Badillo JJ, et al. Differential effects of strength training leading to failure versus not to failure on hormonal responses, strength, and muscle power gains. J Appl Physiol. 2006;100(5).
  8. Siiteri PK. Adipose tissue as a source of hormones. Am J Clin Nutr. 1987;45(1):277-282. http://www.ajcn.org/content/45/1/277.abstract. Accessed January 24, 2017.
  9. Campbell KL, Foster-Schubert KE, Alfano CM, et al. Reduced-calorie dietary weight loss, exercise, and sex hormones in postmenopausal women: randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2012;30(19):2314-2326. doi:10.1200/JCO.2011.37.9792.
  10. Hall G van, Steensberg A, Sacchetti M, et al. Interleukin-6 Stimulates Lipolysis and Fat Oxidation in Humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. July 2013. http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jc.2002-021687. Accessed September 30, 2015.
  11. Plomgaard P, Bouzakri K, Krogh-Madsen R, Mittendorfer B, Zierath JR, Pedersen BK. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha induces skeletal muscle insulin resistance in healthy human subjects via inhibition of Akt substrate 160 phosphorylation. Diabetes. 2005;54(10):2939-2945. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16186396. Accessed January 27, 2017.
  12. Shackelford DB, Shaw RJ. The LKB1-AMPK pathway: metabolism and growth control in tumour suppression. Nat Rev Cancer. 2009;9(8):563-575. doi:nrc2676 [pii]10.1038/nrc2676.
  13. Green AS, Chapuis N, Maciel TT, et al. The LKB1/AMPK signaling pathway has tumor suppressor activity in acute myeloid leukemia through the repression of mTOR-dependent oncogenic mRNA translation. Blood. 2010;116(20):4262-4273. doi:blood-2010-02-269837 [pii] 10.1182/blood-2010-02-269837.
  14. Champ CE, Baserga R, Mishra M V, et al. Nutrient Restriction and Radiation Therapy for Cancer Treatment: When Less Is More. Oncologist. 2013;18(1):97-103. doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2012-0164.
  15. Faubert B, Boily G, Izreig S, et al. AMPK is a negative regulator of the Warburg effect and suppresses tumor growth in vivo. Cell Metab. 2013;17(1):113-124. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2012.12.001.
  16. Vavvas D, Apazidis A, Saha AK, et al. Contraction-induced changes in acetyl-CoA carboxylase and 5’-AMP-activated kinase in skeletal muscle. J Biol Chem. 1997;272(20):13255-13261. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9148944. Accessed January 16, 2015.
  17. Winder WW, Hardie DG. Inactivation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in muscle during exercise. Am J Physiol. 1996;270(2 Pt 1):E299-304. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8779952. Accessed January 16, 2015.
  18. Rasmussen BB, Winder WW. Effect of exercise intensity on skeletal muscle malonyl-CoA and acetyl-CoA carboxylase. J Appl Physiol. 1997;83(4):1104-1109. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9338417. Accessed January 16, 2015.
  19. Draznin B, Wang C, Adochio R, Leitner JW, Cornier MA. Effect of Dietary Macronutrient Composition on AMPK and SIRT1 Expression and Activity in Human Skeletal Muscle. Horm Metab Res. 2012;44(9):650-655. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1312656.
  20. Cantó C, Jiang LQ, Deshmukh AS, et al. Interdependence of AMPK and SIRT1 for metabolic adaptation to fasting and exercise in skeletal muscle. Cell Metab. 2010;11(3):213-219. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2010.02.006.
  21. Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Cell. 2011;144(5):646-674.
  22. Hardie DG. Sensing of energy and nutrients by AMP-activated protein kinase. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(4):891S-6. doi:ajcn.110.001925 [pii]10.3945/ajcn.110.001925.
  23. Hamrick MW. A role for myokines in muscle-bone interactions. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2011;39(1):43-47. doi:10.1097/JES.0b013e318201f601.
  24. Layne JE, Nelson ME. The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;31(1):25-30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9927006. Accessed January 29, 2017.
  25. Pedersen BK, Steensberg A, Keller P, et al. Muscle-derived interleukin-6: lipolytic, anti-inflammatory and immune regulatory effects. Pflügers Arch Eur J Physiol. 2003;446(1):9-16. doi:10.1007/s00424-002-0981-z.
  26. Keller P, Keller C, Carey AL, et al. Interleukin-6 production by contracting human skeletal muscle: autocrine regulation by IL-6. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003;310(2):550-554. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2003.09.048.
  27. Pedersen BK, Febbraio MA. Muscle as an Endocrine Organ: Focus on Muscle-Derived Interleukin-6. Physiol Rev. 2008;88(4):1379-1406. doi:10.1152/physrev.90100.2007.
  28. Febbraio MA, Steensberg A, Keller C, et al. Glucose ingestion attenuates interleukin-6 release from contracting skeletal muscle in humans. J Physiol. 2003;549(Pt 2):607-612. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2003.042374.
  29. Gratas-Delamarche A, Derbré F, Vincent S, Cillard J. Physical inactivity, insulin resistance, and the oxidative-inflammatory loop. Free Radic Res. 2014;48(1):93-108. doi:10.3109/10715762.2013.847528.
  30. Starkie R, Ostrowski SR, Jauffred S, Febbraio M, Pedersen BK. Exercise and IL-6 infusion inhibit endotoxin-induced TNF-alpha production in humans. FASEB J. 2003;17(8):884-886. doi:10.1096/fj.02-0670fje.
  31. Lira FS, Rosa JC, Pimentel GD, et al. Endotoxin levels correlate positively with a sedentary lifestyle and negatively with highly trained subjects. Lipids Health Dis. 2010;9:82. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-9-82.
  32. Oberley TD. Oxidative damage and cancer. Am J Pathol. 2002;160(2):403-408. doi:10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64857-2.
  33. García-López D, Häkkinen K, Cuevas MJ, et al. Effects of strength and endurance training on antioxidant enzyme gene expression and activity in middle-aged men. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2007;17(5):595-604. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2006.00620.x.
  34. Parise G, Phillips SM, Kaczor JJ, Tarnopolsky MA. Antioxidant enzyme activity is up-regulated after unilateral resistance exercise training in older adults. Free Radic Biol Med. 2005;39(2):289-295. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2005.03.024.
  35. Lehrer S, Diamond EJ, Stagger S, Stone NN, Stock RG. Increased serum insulin associated with increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence. Prostate. 2002;50(1):1-3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11757030. Accessed December 24, 2015.
  36. Crawley DJ, Holmberg L, Melvin JC, et al. Serum glucose and risk of cancer: a meta-analysis. BMC Cancer. 2014;14:985. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-985.
  37. Klement RJ, Champ CE. Calories, carbohydrates, and cancer therapy with radiation: exploiting the five R’s through dietary manipulation. Cancer Metastasis Rev. January 2014:1-13. doi:10.1007/s10555-014-9495-3.
  38. Klement RJ, Fink MK. Dietary and pharmacological modification of the insulin/IGF-1 system: exploiting the full repertoire against cancer. Oncogenesis. 2016;5:e193. doi:10.1038/oncsis.2016.2.
  39. Fine EJ, Champ CE, Feinman RD, Márquez S, Klement RJ. An Evolutionary and Mechanistic Perspective on Dietary Carbohydrate Restriction in Cancer Prevention. J Evol Heal. 2016;1(1). doi:10.15310/2334-3591.1036.
  40. Goodwin ML. Blood glucose regulation during prolonged, submaximal, continuous exercise: a guide for clinicians. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2010;4(3):694-705. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20513337. Accessed January 29, 2017.
  41. Adams OP. The impact of brief high-intensity exercise on blood glucose levels. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2013;6:113-122. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S29222.
  42. Bernstein L, Henderson BE, Hanisch R, Sullivan-Halley J, Ross RK. Physical Exercise and Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer in Young Women. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst. 1994;86(18):1403-1408. doi:10.1093/jnci/86.18.1403.
  43. Carpenter CL, Ross RK, Paganini-Hill A, Bernstein L. Lifetime exercise activity and breast cancer risk among post-menopausal women. Br J Cancer. 1999;80(11):1852-1858. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6690610.
  44. Bradshaw PT, Ibrahim JG, Khankari N, et al. Post-diagnosis physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis: the Long Island Breast Cancer Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014;145(3):735-742. doi:10.1007/s10549-014-2966-y.

 

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New skin patch device analyzes sweat during physical activity

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A new skin patch device has been created for analyzing sweat during exercise. The results collected from the patch are then sent to a smartphone. This information offers a valuable insight into the person’s state of health, for example, whether they require more hydration or whether their electrolyte levels are balanced.

Lead author of the study John Rogers explained, “The intimate skin interface created by this wearable, skin-like … system enables new measurement capabilities not possible with the kinds of absorbent pads and sponges currently used in sweat collection.”

The disposable skin patch is made for one-time use for several hours. It can be placed on the forearm or on the back.

You may be wondering why you should have your sweat analyzed. As Rogers explained, it offers “a rich, chemical broth containing a number of important chemical compounds with physiological health information.”

Written By:  Emily Lunardo

Article Source: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/new-skin-patch-device-analyzes-sweat-physical-activity/

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New Study: Daily Walk Can Add 7 Years to Your Life

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If you want to add seven years to your lifespan, set aside 20 to 25 minutes for a daily walk. This simple habit, which can also arguably be one of the most enjoyable parts of your day, has been found to trigger an anti-aging process and even help repair old DNA.

The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, followed 69 people between the ages of 30 and 60. Those who engaged in daily moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk or jog, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and strength training experienced anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.1

The researchers recommended a 20-minute daily walk to reap these benefits, but while I agree a daily walk is a phenomenal health tool, I don’t view it as a form of exercise.

It’s an essential movement that we all require – and you likely need more than 20 minutes of it a day in addition to a regular exercise program. As noted by Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement:2

“Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human.”

What Are the Benefits of Regular Walking?

As mentioned, walking may help to slow down the aging process, and it works no matter what age you get started. Study author Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, told The Independent:3

“We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function, and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”

Part of what makes walking so beneficial is that when you’re walking you can’t be sitting. Sitting for more than eight hours a day is associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, along with increased risks of heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.4

The average American actually spends nine to 10 hours of their day sitting, and certain occupations, such as telecommunications employees, spend an average of 12 hours sitting each day.5

For many years, exercise was promoted as the solution to this largely sedentary lifestyle, but research suggests it can’t counteract the effects of too much sitting. The more you move around and get up out of your chair, the better, and walking is part of this.

Research even shows getting up and walking around for two minutes out of every hour can increase your lifespan by 33 percent, compared to those who do not.6According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the average person only walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day,7 but aiming for 10,000 steps is a better goal.

Slash Your Risk of Heart Disease, Cancer, Osteoporosis, and More

One study found that walking for two miles a day or more can cut your chances of hospitalization from a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by about half.8

Another study found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60.9 Walking for at least an hour or two could cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how brisk the pace was.

Taking a three-hour long walk each day slashed the risk by two-thirds. Walking has additional benefits as well, including to your mood. Walking triggers your body to release natural pain-killing endorphins, and the more steps people take during a day, the better their mood tends to be.10

Walking is even known to improve sleep, support your joint health, improve circulation, and reduce the incidence of disability in those over 65. 11 Research has also shown that walking 30 minutes a day may:12

Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels Improve blood lipid profile
Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity Enhance mental well being Reduce your risk of osteoporosis
Reduce your risk of breast and colon cancer Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

How to Kick Your Walking Up a Notch

The very act of walking is beneficial, as it’s a fundamental movement of the human body. If you’re just starting out on a walking program (after being mostly sedentary), walk at a comfortable pace and work gradually on increasing your pace and distance.

Once you’ve eased into a daily walk, you can turn it into a high-intensity workout of sorts, which may be especially beneficial if you’re elderly or unable to engage in other forms of high-intensity workouts.

One program created by Dr. Hiroshi Nose and colleagues at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan consists of repeated intervals of three minutes of fast walking, aiming for an exertion level of about six or seven on a scale of one to 10, followed by three minutes of slow strolling. As reported by The New York Times:13

“In their original experiment, the results of which were published in 2007, walkers between the ages of 44 and 78 completed five sets of intervals, for a total of 30 minutes of walking at least three times a week. A separate group of older volunteers walked at a continuous, moderate pace, equivalent to about a 4 on the same exertion scale.

After five months, the fitness and health of the older, moderate group had barely improved. The interval walkers, however, significantly improved aerobic fitness, leg strength, and blood-pressure readings.”

Walking Is a Great Way to Get Sun Exposure, Too

I personally walk about two hours a day or about 55 miles per week. I do this barefoot without a shirt on at the beach and so am able to get my sun exposure at the same time, which is an added benefit. I also like to read while I walk and this allows me to read two or three books a week.

Multi-tasking like this allows me to easily justify the time investment. Walking actually burns the same amount of calories as running… it just takes longer. However, I also do some form of “exercise” every day. This includes strength training twice a week, HIIT twice a week with weights or on an elliptical machine, and a light 10-minute workout three times a week on recovery days.

But since walking isn’t exactly exercise, you can do it every day without needing any recovery days for your body to repair and regenerate; it doesn’t tear down your body much, so it doesn’t require recovery time.

The downside is that walking won’t build your body up much either, unless you start out very unfit. For those who are fit, walking is a phenomenal maintenance activity that will allow you to be healthy into old age. Just be sure you have someone knowledgeable seriously analyze your posture.

I see many people walking on the beach and most of the elderly have terrible posture. They have lost much of their thoracic extension and are bent forward shuffling along. An excellent book that can help in this area is “Natural Posture” for Pain-Free Living by Kathleen Porter.

Have You Tried Barefoot Walking?

While you’re getting in the habit of a daily walk, choose a spot that’s suitable for barefoot walking – like a grassy park or sandy beach – and give it a try. In addition to the physical benefits of walking, walking barefoot allows your body to absorb free electrons from the Earth through the soles of your feet, a practice known as grounding.

These electrons have powerful antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and its many well-documented health consequences. For example, one scientific review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health concluded that grounding (walking barefoot on the earth) could improve a number of health conditions, including the following:14

Sleep disturbances, including sleep apnea Chronic muscle and joint pain, and other types of pain Asthmatic and respiratory conditions Rheumatoid arthritis
PMS Hypertension Energy levels Stress
Immune system activity and response Heart rate variability Primary indicators of osteoporosis Fasting glucose levels among people with diabetes

So to recap, walking daily is excellent. Walking daily for 10,000 steps or more is even better. And if you can do so outdoors in the sunshine, and barefoot for grounding, you’ll enjoy even greater benefits. To be clear, you don’t have to do your 10,000 steps a day all at once. You can break up your daily steps into any size increments that work for you. You might walk for one hour in the early morning, 30 minutes during your lunch hour, and another hour in the evening. Or you might enjoy taking shorter 20-minute walks throughout your day.

I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to keep track and find out how far you normally walk. At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around during the day can add up. Plus, it’s motivating to see your steps increase throughout the day, which makes it easier to push yourself a little farther to reach your 10,000-step goal.

By Dr. Mercola

Article Source: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/09/11/daily-walk-benefits.aspx?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=facebookfitness_ranart&utm_campaign=20170104_daily-walk-benefits

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Exercise May Improve Male Fertility

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Infertility is recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).1

Defined as the inability to conceive a child after one year of unprotected sex, infertility affects approximately 1 out of every 8 couples.2

Approximately 90 percent of male infertility is due to low sperm count or poor sperm quality, and the remaining 10 percent are the result of structural abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, genetic defects or other problems.3 Sperm abnormalities are critical to infertility and the health of a resulting pregnancy.

While much media attention has been placed on the necessity for women to care for their bodies prior to pregnancy, research has demonstrated the need for men to care for themselves in the same way to prevent birth defects, miscarriages and infertility.

Recent research now indicates that exercise may improve quality and quantity of sperm in men who were previously sedentary.4

Exercise May Improve Sperm Quality and Quantity

In a study completed in Iran, researchers evaluated the effect of four different levels of exercise on sperm quality in sedentary men. Of the couples struggling with infertility, 1 in 3 are the result of poor sperm quality.5

In this study, researchers from Urmia University evaluated the sperm of 261 healthy men over six months.

The participants were first determined to be otherwise healthy, between 25 and 40 years of age, and didn’t regularly participate in an exercise program. They were then separated into the following four groups:6

  • No exercise
  • Three workouts a week of high-intensity training on a treadmill (HIIT)
  • Three workouts a week of 30 minutes moderate-intensity continuous training on a treadmill (MICT)
  • Three workouts a week of one-hour high-intensity continuous training on a treadmill (HICT)

The researchers used semen samples before, during and after the six-month exercise period to evaluate sperm motility, size, morphology (shape), count, semen volume and levels of inflammatory markers.

After 24 weeks, it was the MICT group who experienced the greatest improvements, although the HICT and HIIT groups also experienced improvement over the group who did not exercise.7

The MICT group had a greater than 8 percent rise in semen volume, over 12 percent improvement in sperm motility, 17 percent improvement in morphology and just over 21 percent more sperm cells on average.8

However, while the men enjoyed these improvements during the exercise program, the sperm count, concentration and morphology began dropping back to pre-workout levels within a week after stopping. Lead author of the study, Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki commented:9

“Our results show that doing exercise can be a simple, cheap and effective strategy for improving sperm quality in sedentary men.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that the reason some men can’t have children isn’t just based on their sperm count. Male infertility problems can be complex and changing lifestyles might not solve these cases easily.”

Moderate Exercise Increases Sperm Quality

The authors of the study theorized that although weight loss achieved by the men during the six months of the study was likely to have contributed to improving sperm quality, the men participating in MICT may have experienced the greatest impact as MICT reduces exposure to inflammatory agents and oxidative stress.10

Scientists have determined that exposure to electromagnetic fields, increased heat, poor nutrition, obesity, drugs, alcohol and bicycling may reduce sperm quality, and theorize that reducing these factors and improving health would then improve sperm health.

Another study of 31 men, 16 of whom were active (but did not bike) and 15 sedentary, underwent a shorter evaluation of sperm quality,11 using the WHO’s sperm quality parameters, including volume, count, motility and morphology.12

Researchers found physically active men had a higher concentration of sperm, semen volume and a higher percentage of sperm with normal morphology.

In a previous study, these same authors found men who engaged in intense exercise instead experienced a reduction in sperm quality, but moderate exercise appeared to be linked to improve sperm quality.

Researchers from the most recent study also found that moderate activity, as described in their study parameters, yielded better results. The researchers commented:13

“The present study adds to this body of evidence and shows seminal markers of inflammation and oxidative stress improved significantly after 24 weeks of MICT, HICT or HIIT, and these changes correspond with favorable improvements in semen quality parameters and sperm DNA integrity.

These results further indicate that MICT was more beneficial in improving markers of male reproductive function, compared to HICT and HIIT.

These observations suggest that the intensity, duration and type of exercise training could be taken into consideration when investigating reproductive responses to exercise training in men.”

Male Infertility Responsible for 30 Percent of Cases

Allan Pacey, Ph.D., and fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), is the British Fertility Society spokesman and professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield. He also commented on the research results and how they may affect fertility:14

“In this context, the study makes a good contribution to the knowledge base. It is a very well conducted and a strength is that it is a randomized controlled trial with extensive data collection.

Also, the study examines how exercise affects many of the parameters of male reproductive health, not just sperm quality. However, what is likely to be of most interest to men and their doctors are the results concerning sperm quality.

Importantly, these seem to show a statistical improvement to various degrees when the men embarked on their different exercise regimes compared to men who did no exercise at all. However, an important question is whether these statistical changes are enough to be of any clinical significance.”

Male infertility contributes to 30 percent of all infertility cases.15 Of the four major causes of male infertility, between 40 percent and 50 percent of poor sperm quality is attributed to unknown factors. Male infertility is a complex condition encompassing both the health of the sperm and the mechanical functioning of the male reproductive system.16

Testing for male infertility includes a semen sample analysis, blood work, physical examination and an evaluation for any current infections or structural damage from past infections. Although frustrating to a couple trying to conceive a child, the risk of poor sperm quality extends beyond the inability to conceive.

Risks Associated With Poor Sperm Quality

Sperm motility, or the ability of sperm to move quickly and in a straight line, is one factor associated with sperm quality. Sperm that are sluggish or move poorly may be associated with DNA fragmentation, and the potential risk for passing genetic diseases.17There is also some evidence that male infertility may be a risk factor for testicular cancer.18

Recurrent miscarriages may be attributed to chromosomal damage to either the egg or the sperm,19 and reduced sperm quality is associated with congenital deformities.20 Chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm may contribute to poor sperm quality.

The risks of poor quality sperm also extend to the health of the man. Defects in sperm quality are linked to a variety of health concerns, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and skin and glandular disorders.21 Lead researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg, assistant professor of urology and director of reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford School of Medicine, commented that “[i]t may be that infertility is a marker for sickness overall.”22

A study evaluating more than 9,000 men with fertility issues found a correlation between defects in a man’s sperm and the likelihood he suffers from other health conditions.23 A previous study Eisenberg co-authored also indicated that men who experienced infertility issues had an overall higher rate of mortality in the following years. According to Eisenberg:24

“A man’s health is strongly correlated with his semen quality. Given the high incidence of infertility, we need to take a broader view. As we treat men’s infertility, we should also assess their overall health. That visit to a fertility clinic represents a big opportunity to improve their treatment for other conditions, which we now suspect could actually help resolve the infertility they came in for in the first place.”

Natural Sperm Boosting Options

While moderate exercise may help to improve sperm quality, there are other lifestyle choices that may help to enhance the improvements you experience. Infertility is a complex condition that is intimately incorporated the rest of your health. You may improve your sperm quality as you also improve your overall health and wellness.

Use Moderate-Intensity Continuous Exercise While Trying to Conceive

Although HIIT is a healthy adjunct to an exercise program, the increased heat and oxidative stress on your body may produce time-limited changes to your sperm quality, and reduce your potential to conceive.

Reduce Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Unprecedented decline in fertility rates and semen quality in the past decade may be attributed to exposure to phthalates in your environment.25 Animal studies have demonstrated an association between phthalates and testicular toxicity26 and lowered sperm count.27 Other chemicals to avoid include paint fumes, pesticides, formaldehyde, organic solvents and dry cleaning chemicals.

Optimize Your Vitamin D Level

Low vitamin D levels have been linked to infertility in both men and women. In men it is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count.

Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. Aim to maintain a level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) year-round.

Maintain Your Weight Within Normal Limits Through a Whole Food Diet

Obesity changes male hormone levels, which has a direct impact on sperm molecular composition and function.28 Use fresh foods as often as possible, ideally organically grown, to avoid pesticides. Seek out pastured, organic meat and dairy products, raw nuts, seeds and vegetables, and avoid dangerous trans fats found in many processed foods and vegetable oils.

Reduce or Eliminate Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs

Each of these creates an added stress on your body with demonstrated reduction in fertility, sperm motility and quality.

Avoid the Heat

Sperm require a specific temperature to remain active and viable. Avoid wearing tight underwear and tight pants, taking hot showers or baths and sitting in hot tubs. Keep your laptop off your lap as the increased heat from the machine also increases the temperature of your scrotum.29

Your body will naturally keep your sperm at the right temperature when you avoid circumstances that abnormally increase the temperature of your scrotum.

Avoid Placing Your Mobile Phone in Your Front Pants Pocket

Research shows mobile phone radiation increases DNA fragmentation and reduces sperm motility.30

Written By: Dr. Mercola http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/12/23/exercise-improve-male-fertility.aspx

 

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Runners’ brains show greater connections

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A new study has found that runners’ brains, compared to non-runners, show greater connections. What does this mean exactly? The researchers found that runners had greater functional connectivity compared to those who lived more sedentary lives.

The researchers compared brain scans of cross country runners to scans of young adults who did not partake in regular physical activity. The runners showed overall greater functional connectivity in several different areas of the brain which could boost problem-solving, decision making, and switching attention between tasks.

The researchers suggest that these findings create groundwork for future studies to test whether or not frequent running or physical activity could improve cognitive function.

University of Arizona running expert David Raichlen explained, “One of the things that drove this collaboration was that there has been a recent proliferation of studies, over the last 15 years, that have shown that physical activity and exercise can have a beneficial impact on the brain, but most of that work has been in older adults. This question of what’s occurring in the brain at younger ages hasn’t really been explored in much depth, and it’s important. Not only are we interested in what’s going on in the brains of young adults, but we know that there are things that you do across your lifespan that can impact what happens as you age, so it’s important to understand what’s happening in the brain at these younger ages.”

Although there have been numerous studies on how certain activities can improve certain functions there is lack of evidence to show if repetitive physical activity that doesn’t require fine motor skills can improve brain function. “These activities that people consider repetitive actually involve many complex cognitive functions — like planning and decision-making — that may have effects on the brain,” added Raichlen.

It’s important to uncover what impacts the brains of young adults as this could help prevent cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the future. If future studies reveal that running, and other exercise, can improve and prevent dementia then it could be a more widely recommended approach to prevent it.

Co-researcher Gene Alexander concluded, “One of the key questions that these results raise is whether what we’re seeing in young adults — in terms of the connectivity differences — imparts some benefit later in life. The areas of the brain where we saw more connectivity in runners are also the areas that are impacted as we age, so it really raises the question of whether being active as a young adult could be potentially beneficial and perhaps afford some resilience against the effects of aging and disease.”

Written By:Emily Lunardo  Article Source: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/runners-brains-show-greater-connections/

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Developing a Strong Grip Is One Secret to Getting Stronger Overall

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Grip strength is an often overlooked and underappreciated aspect of strength training. After all, you use your grip for things like picking up and holding weights to supporting your bodyweight. If you can’t grip, you’ll have a hard time lifting, even if your other muscles are up for the task.

It’s not just weights, either. If your grip strength isn’t up to par in a pull-up, for example, you wouldn’t be able to pull yourself up. I mean, there could be many other possible weaknesses (crappy core and lats maybe) that keep you from getting stronger, but grip can easily be trained. Breaking Muscle provides a couple of ideas:

  • Hanging: Just hang. Hold on to a horizontal bar for dear life for a certain amount of time. The thicker the bar, the harder it is.
  • Loaded carries: These are a category of exercises that involves holding various amounts and types of weights in different ways. A farmer’s walk is one example.
  • Pinching: Hold a weight plate in your hands and pinch it like you’re holding a sandwich.
  • Extensor training: On the other hand, too much gripping can tighten up certain muscles in your forearms. Wrap a rubberband (like those used to wrap broccoli or asparagus) around your fingers and practice opening them up as wide as you can to give attention to your underworked extensor muscles.

Grip training seems like such a “gym bro” thing to do, but gripping things is baked into everyday stuff: You have to open jars, shake hands, hold bags, and so on. Don’t be that person who has a crappy handshake.

Written by Stephanie Lee.  Article Source: http://vitals.lifehacker.com/developing-a-strong-grip-is-one-secret-to-getting-stron-1788953434

 

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