Friday, June 1, 2012

Thick and thin

If you played around with Framingham risk score calculator I posted yesterday you may have reached an erroneous conclusion. If you enter your age rather than  my age then you can enter some pretty unhealthy values for blood pressure and cholesterol and it still won't raise your ten year risk of heart disease much. It will probably still say <1%.

So does it not matter what you do? It's obesity - poor diet and lack of exercise that lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure but if it doesn't raise your risk of death then why worry about it? Well the problem is that increasing evidence suggests that each year lived with obesity increases your chances of death (from both heat disease and cancer) way down the road -more than ten years down the road in your case. A recent study in the International Journal of Epidemiology actually quantified this: The number of years lived with obesity and the risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Using data from, you guessed it, the Framingham heart study, they showed that the risk of dying increased 7% for every two years a person was obese, and for every ten years lived with obesity, the risk of heart disease and cancer mortality more than doubled. The researchers suggest counting "obese years" - similar to "pack years" for cigarette smokers - in order to better estimate health risks. 

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