Want to stay strong even at old age? Exercise regularly

Toronto, March 31 (IANS) The “secret” to staying strong as we age is superb fitness that can be achieved by regular exercise, suggests new research.

The study found that people who were elite athletes in their youth or later in life have much healthier muscles at the cellular level compared to those of non-athletes.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, compared world-class track and field athletes in their 80s with people of the same age who are living independently.

“One of the most unique and novel aspects of this study is the exceptional participants,” said researcher Geoff Power, professor at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

“These are individuals in their 80s and 90s who actively compete in world masters track and field championships. We have seven world champions. These individuals are the creme de la creme of ageing,” Power noted.

The study found that athletes’ legs were 25 percent stronger on average and had about 14 percent more total muscle mass.

In addition, the athletes had nearly one-third more motor units in their leg muscles than non-athletes.

More motor units, consisting of nerve and muscle fibres, mean more muscle mass and subsequently greater strength.

With normal ageing, the nervous system lose motor neurons, leading to a loss of motor units, reduced muscle mass, less strength, speed and power. That process speeds up substantially past age 60.

“Therefore, identifying opportunities to intervene and delay the loss of motor units in old age is of critical importance,” Power said.

Diabetes drug increases risk of bladder cancer

London, March 31 (IANS) A drug used in the treatment of diabetes can increase the risk of bladder cancer, warns a new study adding that the risk increases with the rising duration of use and the dose.

Pioglitazone belongs to a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones and helps to control blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

However, the findings of the study revealed that taking the drug increases risk of bladder cancer by 63 percent.

The researchers wanted to assess the drug after a number of bladder cancer cases were identified among people taking the drug in a trial in 2005. Since then different studies have reported contradictory findings on the subject.

Canadian-based researchers examined the use of pioglitazone with other anti-diabetic drugs and found an increased association of risk of bladder cancer in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The team analysed data for 145,806 patients from Britain’s Clinical Practice Research Database (CPRD), who were newly treated with diabetes drugs between 2000 and 2013.

Potential influential factors such as age, sex, duration of diabetes, smoking status and alcohol-related disorders, were also taken into account.

In contrast, the use of rosiglitazone was not associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer in any analysis, suggesting the risk is drug-specific and not a class effect, the researchers maintained in the study published in the journal The BMJ.

In another large cohort study, the experts from University of Nottingham in Britain found clinically important differences between different drugs (alone and in combination) and risk of five key outcomes – blindness, amputation, severe kidney failure, high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) events.

The results may have implications for prescribing, and suggest doctors and patients should be aware when assessing the overall risks and benefits of diabetes drugs, the researchers pointed out.

Though the risk of bladder cancer remains low, in absolute terms, the authors suggested that the doctors and patients should be aware of this association when assessing the overall risks and benefits of this therapy.

Working closely with their clinicians, “patients can identify the agent that is best for them given their context, both clinical and personal,” suggested Victor Montori, professor at Mayo Clinic in the US in an accompanying editorial.

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