According to a report in the November 3 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2004; 96 , 1635–38), obesity and low physical activity are strong, independent risk factors for endometrial cancer.
Researchers analyzed data from 62,573 women who participated in The Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer. During the follow-up years from 1986 to 1995, a total of 226 women developed endometrial cancer.
Women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher were 4.5 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than their peers with a BMI between 20 and 22.9. Low physical activity also had an adverse effect on cancer risk. Compared with women who spent at least 90 minutes per day doing nonoccupational physical activity, women who spent fewer than 30 minutes per day were 46% more likely to develop endometrial cancer.
When your client or student complains about not having a convenient place to walk, you might want to pay attention. A RAND Health study published in the October issue of Public Health (2004; 118 , 488–96) found that people who live in areas with “a high degree of suburban sprawl” are less healthy than their counterparts who live in more compact communities.
The findings suggest that someone who lives in a sprawling city like Detroit is more prone to having high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches and breathing difficulties. In fact, a Detroit resident may have a similar health profile to someone 4 years older living in a less sprawling city, such as San Francisco. Researchers found this to be so, even after accounting for age, race and economic status.
Want to know if you live in a potential danger zone? The study determined sprawl by looking at whether areas had poorly connected streets (cul-de-sacs as opposed to grids), more separated land use mix (shopping, schools, work and residential areas far apart) and a lower population density. Here’s how some U.S. cities stacked up:
Most Suburban Sprawl
Riverside–San Bernardino, California
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
West Palm Beach, Florida
Rochester, New York
Least Suburban Sprawl
A new $2.8 million effort will look at how better design of the built environment coaxes people to be more physically active on a day-to-day basis. The built environment includes houses, schools and workplaces, industrial and residential land uses, public areas like parks and museums, zoning regulations and transportation systems.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is paying for the 5-year evaluation of U.S. communities. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living by Design Program (ALDP) is also involved. The NIEHS will examine this program’s impact on physical activity, obesity and other health indicators. The 25 communities targeted in the ALDP will be compared with other communities that haven’t improved their surroundings. For more information, visit www.niehs.nih.gov.
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