The Body Mass Index (BMI) has come under some fire for painting an inaccurate picture of a person's "fatness" and risk of disease. Probably better to measure body fat, which can be done with a special DEXA machine (used more commonly for determining bone mineral density/osteoporosis). Stay tuned.
Low vitamin D levels correlate with all sorts of bad things. For example, 80% of obese people are "vitamin D deficient". Most studies that test whether a vitamin D pill cures what ails you come up blank. It seems that vitamin D deficiency is more a marker for suboptimal health than a quick-fix. That said, vitamin D supplementation has been found to be of small benefit for some conditions, like bone thinning and frailty.
Another study testing the Mediterranean Diet against death from heart disease. This one found a 19% reduction in mortality rate for those who ate the Mediterranean Diet. Add this to the growing list of pro-Mediterranean Diet studies.
Stroke (brain attack) has moved down on the list of top killers in the US, from #3 to #4. Chronic lung disease is now #3. Whi did they swap? Because stroke rate has dropped greatly over the last half century, probably due to improved control of blood pressure.
We have long known that one of the most reliable predictors of how long a person will live is their socioeconomic status. More disadvantaged generally have more than double the death rate of wealthier people. This study tried to identify what aspects of socioeconomic status impact lifespan. Their findings: smoking accounted for 49% of the higher death rate of the disadvantaged, diet 43%, alcohol 13%. Want to live as long as a rich person? Don't smoke, eat a healthy diet, and don't drink much.
Controlling for weight, taller people get more cancer. For each 5cm (2 inch) of extra height, your body packs on extra cancer risk (7% in women per 5cm, 4% in men per 5cm). Which cancer was most affected? Melanoma unsurprisingly.
Vitamin D levels definitely correlate with better health and longevity. However that does not mean that taking a vitamin D supplement will "curewhatailsya" as we say in internal medicine. "there is no clear evidence for a role of vitamin D other than that strictly associated with bone health". Stay tuned, more studies are being done.
We have known for years that the length of the telomeres in your cells (the tips of the chromosomes) is a predictor of how much you have aged and how long you can expect to live. Here is evidence that 2 risk factors increase the rate of shortening of your telomeres/aging of your DNA: smoking and the metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of risk factors: abdominal overweight, elevated blood pressure, low HDL, and high triglycerides.
Has you or a loved one been diagnosed with prostate cancer? The investigators of this study reviewed the literature and conclude "Patients should be counseled not to use tobacco products; to engage in daily physical activity; to minimize sedentary behavior; to consume plenty of healthy fats (i.e. fish, nuts, vegetable oils, soybeans, avocados, and flaxseed) and vegetables; to focus on getting nutrients from foods rather than supplements; and to limit refined grains, sugars, processed meat, and high-fat dairy."