Roundup: Alcohol-Related Deaths Surge; Best Diets for 2020; and Marathon Training Benefits

U.S. Alcohol-Related Deaths More Than Double Over Last Two Decades

The number of U.S. adults who have died from alcohol-related health issues every year has more than doubled between 1999 and 2017, a new study has found.

Based on information found in death certificates from 1999 to 2017, researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism determined that the number of alcohol-related deaths increased 51 percent from 16.9 to 25.5 per 100,000. There were 35,914 deaths in 1999 and 72,558 by 2017 linked to alcohol. In 2017, 2.6 percent of about 2.8 million deaths in the U.S. were alcohol related.

Overall, that represents nearly 1 million Americans during the 18-year timeframe. And researcher say this is probably an undercount. About half of these deaths were attributed to liver disease or a fatal overdose from alcohol or alcohol mixed with other drugs.

The study concluded: “Given previous reports that death certificates often fail to indicate the contribution of alcohol, the scope of alcohol‐related mortality in the United States is likely higher than suggested from death certificates alone.”

Some groups appear to be more vulnerable to alcohol health issues, according to the study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. While overall rates of alcohol-related deaths were highest in men, the largest annual increase was seen among non-Hispanic white women, the researchers said.

Alcohol-related deaths increased more for people between the ages of 55 and 64.

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With Focus on Plant-Based Foods, Mediterranean and DASH Plans Top ‘Best Diets’ List

Once again, the so-called Mediterranean diet, which focuses on planted-based foods, whole grains and lean proteins from fish and poultry, has won the best overall diet, according to the newly released diet ranking for 2020 from U.S. News and World Report.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Mediterranean diet has registered the top spot. U.S. News and World Report bases its selections on input from a panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants, physicians and other experts.

The Mediterranean Diet spotlights meals low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat. It focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It also promotes the “good” fats from olive oil or fish.

“It’s generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments,” writes U.S. News and World Report . “The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods.”

Second place went to the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). DASH is the government-backed plan aimed at helping followers lower their blood pressure. Launched by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, DASH emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. DASH also restricts calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat.

Both the DASH and Mediterranean diets are highly touted by physicians and dietitians as heart healthy and ideal for losing weight or maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index.)

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First-Time Marathon Training Could Add Years to Your Life, Study Indicates

A new study suggests that marathon training and running a marathon (26.2 miles) for the first time could reverse some effects of aging, and add some years to your life.

Researchers monitored 138 healthy, first-time marathon runners who training and completed the London marathon. They’re accomplishment was associated with a four-year reduction in their “vascular age.” Specifically, researchers found that marathon training reversed the normal stiffening of the aorta, the main artery in the body, and helped reduce blood pressure.

Marathon training decreased systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) — when the heart beats — by 4 units (mmHg), and diastolic blood pressure — when the heart rests between beats — decreased by 3 units (mmHg). Overall, marathon training reduced stiffness in the aorta, the main artery in the body.

“Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of aging on our blood vessels with real-world exercise in just six months,” said senior author, Charlotte Manisty, M.D., a senior lecturer at University College London and a consultant in cardiology at the Barts Heart Centre and University College Hospitals.

For their study, researchers recruited runners with no significant health issues, ages 21 to 69, who had registered to take part in the 2016 and 2017 London marathons. They examined the runners — nearly half of whom were male — six months before they began training and within three weeks after completing the race.

(The Miami Marathon and Half Marathon is set for Feb. 9, 2020.)

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Tips for Marathoners: Beating Physical, Mental Challenges

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