In trend: May 2016
Avoid the midnight munchies—Put down that midnight snack. Research suggests that prolonged periods of nightly fasting reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women. Using data from the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living study, a retrospective cohort study published in JAMA Oncology (doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0164) looked at the sleeping and eating patterns of 2413 women with breast cancer aged between 27 and 70 years at diagnosis. Nightly fasting duration was estimated from 24 hour dietary recalls collected at baseline, year 1, and year 4 of the original study. Clinical outcomes included breast cancer recurrence and new breast cancers during a mean of 7.3 years of study follow-up. Fasting for fewer than 13 hours per night was associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer recurrence compared with fasting for 13 hours or more per night (hazard ratio 1.36, 95% confidence interval 1.05 to 1.76.) The authors conclude that “prolonging the length of the nightly fasting interval could be a simple and feasible strategy to reduce breast cancer recurrence . . . but that randomized trials are required.”
Physician, heal thyself—Stressed at work? According to a cross sectional study published in BMJ Open (doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010467), it could be affecting your cardiovascular health. Data, including blood pressure, fasting sugar, blood cholesterol, body mass index, time of physical activity, dietary pattern, and smoking status, were collected from 1329 medical professionals who were recruited from a hospital in Taiwan. The degree of “job strain” was also measured for of each participant. High strain work was characterised by high demands of the job and low levels of control in the job. The study found that participants with high strain jobs experienced the highest rate of poor cardiovascular status (85.1%), compared with participants with low strain jobs (73.2%), P=0.002. The authors conclude that strategies for workplace health promotion should focus on improving unfavourable work characteristics such as reducing work load and stipulating realistic working hours.
Run like a caveman—You might not need the expensive new running shoes you’ve been eyeing up. A small prospective cohort study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094482)looked at survey data from 201 (107 barefoot and 94 shod) adult runners, and recorded information regarding injuries and mileage each month for one year. The barefoot group had fewer musculoskeletal injuries than the shod group (1.17 v 1.66, P=0.05). When normalised for mileage, however, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups. The authors point out that although their study was not designed to assess an individual’s diagnosed injuries, they uncovered some interesting findings. For example, plantar fasciitis seemed to be more common in the shod running group, despite barefoot runners experiencing a greater load through their arches during running than the shod runners. The authors suggest that this finding may be related to the strengthening of the arch muscles by increasing the demand placed on them.
Sing away your stress—If you sing in a choir you might be giving your immune system and mood a helping hand. In a multicentre single arm study published in ecancermedicalscience (doi:10.3332/ecancer.2016.631), three populations of people who regularly sang in a choir and were affected by cancer (72 carers, 66 bereaved carers, and 55 patients with cancer) took part in one hour of group singing. Before and after the session, visual analogue mood scales and stress scales were assessed, and saliva samples were taken for testing cortisol, β-endorphin, oxytocin, and 10 cytokines. In all groups, singing was associated with increased mood positivity and decreased mood negativity (P<0.01), and increases in cytokine levels (P<0.01). Because this is a preliminary study that shows a non-specific acute cytokine reaction, the authors state that the implications of their findings are unclear, but that further research could “identify whether the psychosocial benefits of a communal activity such as group singing could lead to enhanced immune function in patients and carers affected by cancer.”
Fighting the flu—A population based retrospective cohort study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases (doi:10.1093/cid/ciw082)demonstrates how crucial it is that pregnant women have their influenza vaccination to reduce the risk of stillbirth. The study, which looked at 58 008 births in Australia between April 2012 and December 2013, used Cox regression models to calculate the adjusted hazard ratio for stillbirth in women vaccinated with the trivalent influenza vaccine and unvaccinated mothers. Stillbirth, defined as birth occurring at 20 weeks’ gestation or more with Apgar scores of zero at one and five minutes after delivery, was 51% less likely in women who were vaccinated than in women who weren’t (hazard ratio 0.49, 95% confidence interval 0.29 to 0.84). The authors report that uptake of the vaccine is currently less than 50%, with fears over safety of the vaccine for the fetus the most common reason for refusal. They conclude that “given the growing body of evidence supporting the health benefits to mother and infant, concerted efforts are needed to improve seasonal influenza vaccine coverage among pregnant women.”
Eyespy is compiled by Katy Bettany